I suppose you might've been at the holiday decorations workshop on the Ag campus. I heard the wreaths there were to die for.
Maybe you were competing at the all-afternoon chess tournament over at the International House or hanging out with Barney the Dinosaur over at the Coliseum.
Hey, maybe you just went home for the weekend. Who wants to wait nearly a half a week for Thanksgiving break?
If you weren't at one of those three places, though, where exactly were you Saturday afternoon?
If you're actually reading this column, I've got a decent guess - you were probably at the UT-Vanderbilt game watching the Vols play their home finale. So if you were there, you probably know what I'm about to talk about.
If you weren't? Well then, you are what I'm about to talk about ... because someone needs to say it.
The thousands upon thousands of empty seats at Neyland Stadium - a few thousand in the student section and many thousand scattered elsewhere - were an absolute disgrace. It's as simple as that.
Henry Wolfenbarger has been an usher at the stadium for 15 years and he said he'd never seen anything like it. He had never seen such a large strip of empty seats in the upper deck, stretching all the way from below the luxury suites to below the scoreboard (if you are a student, much of which you probably couldn't see from where you were sitting).
"Last week it was down, but it was cold and wet," he said. "I was amazed to see it like it was today. I can't remember seeing the upper deck that empty."
Usher Fred Chadwick has been working at the stadium since 1947. The 76-year-old said Saturday's crowd was as sparse as it's been "in a good 15 to 20 years."
"Surprised ... very surprised," Chadwick said of the attendance, which he estimated at around 80,000 turnstile. "I was amazed to see it like it was. It's actually pretty hard to understand, really."
Pretty hard to understand, indeed.
Late in the third quarter, I snuck out of the press box and walked all around the stadium, asking fans when the last time they saw so many empty seats in a place that is annually hailed as one of the greatest places in the country to watch a football game.
Most of the younger fans had never seen it. And all the older fans I talked to said the same thing as the ushers - at least 15 years.
I'm sure this fact thoroughly impressed the high school recruits and bowl representatives in attendance.
They were probably pondering the same things I was.
The late November weather was an almost heavenly 67 degrees at kickoff. The home team had fully kicked into gear and was still gunning for the SEC East championship.
And the game wasn't even on TV, unless you were stupid enough to actually hand over the cash and watch it on pay-per-view instead of seeing it in person.
I don't know ... maybe I'm just too big a football fan. Maybe I just don't understand what you could find better to do for a measly three hours of a measly six or seven days out of the year.
Maybe I'm just making too big a deal out of nothing.
Even if the official count of 100,496 was an even bigger joke than Vandy "football," there were still more people at Neyland than at most stadiums around the country. Believe me, I understand that.
And I know Vanderbilt is a bad team with bad fans who don't travel. And I know, for the most part, that UT still has a loyal and large fan base.
Be honest, though.
Doesn't it seem like that once-vaunted fan base has dwindled just a bit over the last couple years?
"I don't think it's as big an event as it was at one time," is how the old-timer Chadwick put it.
And I couldn't agree more.
For those of you who followed the Vols before your freshman year, doesn't it feel just a little less electric on gamedays now? Even for those who didn't, isn't there just less of a buzz about football around campus than there was just a few years back?
We - and I speak as a fellow student - haven't sold our full allotment of tickets to any game this year ... not even Georgia. As incredible as that is, though, I'm not about to sit here and heap all the blame on us.
Capital One Bowl official Jack Oppenheimer said Tennessee men's AD Mike Hamilton told him that most of Saturday's empty seats were student seats.
OK, so that's good PR and probably a good move if the Vols want to spend their holidays in Orlando.
But it's also bogus.
The thousands of empty seats in the southeast corner of the upper deck did not belong to the students. They belonged to the all diehards who couldn't afford season tickets, but used to give up their first-born to have the chance to watch from the clouds as their beloved Vols played way down below.
Where have all those people gone?
On a perfect Saturday afternoon, a Tennessee team in the top 10 and still in championship contention obliterated Vanderbilt like so many great Volunteer teams in the past had not.
And what did they get for it?
About 25,000 seat numbers looking back at them.
Someone explain that one to me.
- Brett Edgerton is sports editor of the Daily Beacon and wants your feedback. Have UT fans lost some of their enthusiasm or has Edgerton just lot his mind? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's 1:00 ... Do you know where your Vol fan is?
Published: Mon Nov 24, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:38 p.m.