As a third-year journalism student and unofficial full-time sports writer, I've been lucky enough to cover 13 of UT's last 17 football games. That has meant paying my own way to travel on four occasions.
The most recent of such occasions came Saturday when I met with five other UT journalism students on the UT campus at 7 a.m. to caravan to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to cover Tennessee's game against No. 1 Alabama.
In the midst of the Crimson Tide's 45-10 romping of the Vols, my mind wandered for a moment as I considered just how many student journalists inhabited the press box at that time.
In total, seven UT journalism majors sat dispersed throughout the press box in Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of arguably college football's most storied program. Here's a rundown of them and who they were credentialed by on Saturday:
Dallas Abel - WUTK, 90.3 The Rock
Dargan Southard - The Daily Beacon
David Cobb - Maryville Daily Times
Gage Arnold - Knoxville News Sentinel
*Riley Blevins - InsideTennessee
Steven Cook - The Daily Beacon
Troy Provost-Heron - The Daily Beacon
*not a part of caravan
The six of us who traveled down on Saturday morning did so on our own dime and our own time. We all crammed into one hotel room Saturday night, and I'd venture to say that nobody broke even for expenses on the trip because of the work they did. But it didn't matter. We had a blast going down there and our respective media outlets benefitted greatly from our desire to do so.
Although UT's journalism school is not especially notorious like Missouri's or Arizona State's, it had seven students in the press box of the nation's No. 1 college football team for a conference matchup televised nationally on CBS.
My point is two-fold. 1. The UT journalism school should be proud of the way this group of sports journalism students is attacking the real world and taking advantage of opportunities.
2. From a personal standpoint, it's great to be around other young journalists who are also investing in their futures.
Sure, there was plenty of time for college-type banter and discussion on the trip. But the majority of our dialogue centered on the journalism industry, our thoughts on other media outlets and discussion of our current work.
Having that camaraderie amongst peers is both refreshing and invigorating, and I'd venture to say that it's essential.
We're all full-time students and we all essentially work full-time in the field. So to know you're not the only one pulling all-nighters in pursuit of a risky profession is motivating and reassuring.
The Tennessee alumni network boasts an impressive pedigree of sports media figures and I'd venture to say that trend will continue in the coming years.
Don't believe me? Well then I guess you weren't in Alabama's press box on Saturday.