KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s gator-hating time in Tennessee, and Vol fans are eager to put an end to Florida’s 11-year winning streak.
It’s a rivalry that dates back to when Jeff Francis was UT quarterback 30 years ago.
“Well the Florida Gators, back when I played them, we didn’t play them every year like they do now but it was a great rivalry. We always had a lot of talented players on the field,” Jeff Francis, former UT quarterback, said. “Great rivalry. One time we played down there in the Swamp, and it was just very competitive, a lot of great players on the field, which is what we can expect when Florida and Tennessee play.”
“Gator Hator” week gives Tennessee fans a chance to get in the Volunteer spirit and help people in need. For the past twelve years, the Scarecrow Foundation has organized a week-long series of events to raise money for the Love Kitchen, a non-profit organization that feeds the hungry.
The kitchen serves more than 3,000 meals a week, financed solely by donated money.
The money generated by “Gator Hator” week often triples what they bring in a week, and it comes at the perfect time, with Thanksgiving just around the corner.
“It’s hugely important to us,” Patrick Riggins, president of the Love Kitchen, said. “This is one of the few fundraisers we do during the year, so it’s just critical that we have this each fall and it leads us right into the holiday giving season.”
The week offers fans an opportunity to celebrate their team and give back to their community, all while counting down the days until the Vols face off against the Gators.
Vol for Life Tony Robinson remembers the anticipation all too well.
“Being from Florida, you didn’t have to get me up,” Tony Robinson, former UT Quarterback, said. “ I was already up. I was ready to go. I was ready to play, because I wanted to go home and talk trash if we beat them. But I didn’t beat them but it should be a good week. I think the guys will be fired up this week, be ready to play Florida and get that first SEC win under their belt.”
As fans look ahead to the big game, former players are already making predictions for the Sept. 24 showdown.
“Tennessee’s going to win,” Francis said. “It’s just a matter of how much.”
ESPN College GameDay announced Sunday they would be at the game. ESPN College GameDay attends the biggest game of the week. This is the second time they’ve come to a Vols game this season. They were also at Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol.
12th Annual Gator Hator Week Schedule
Saturday, September 17
- 5 p.m. – Salt the Gator at La Parrilla (Turkey Creek)
- 7 p.m. – Miss Gator Hator Pageant at Whiskey Bend with knoxvilleman.com
Sunday, September 18
- Noon – Fitness Together Gator Hator Hunt at Central Flats & Taps
- 6 p.m. – Dunk the Gator Kick-Off Part at The Alley
Monday, September 19
- 8-10 a.m. – Gator Hator Breakfast
- 4 p.m. Pocket Aces Happy Hour at Sapphire
- 6 p.m. Gator Hator Poker Classic at Downtown Grill and Brewery
Tuesday, September 20
- 1 p.m. – Gator Hator Golf Class at Egwani
- 6 p.m. – Ladies Happy Hour w/Silent Auction at Water into Wine bistro and loung
- 9 p.m. – Gator Hator Trivia at Cool Beans
Wednesday, September 21
- Breakfast at Pete’s Coffee Shop
- Gator Hator Lunch at Chandler’s Deli
- 5 p.m. – Meet the Model and Media happy Hour at Fieldhouse Social
- Throw Deep for Hunger on University of Tennessee Campus
- 6 p.m. Schnitzel not Gators Happy Hour – Restaurant Linderhof
- 11 p.m. Gator Hator Service Industry Night at Rooster’s
Thursday, September 22
- Gator Hator Breakfast on Market Square at Cafe 4
- Gator Hator Lunch at Jackie’s Dream
- 5 p.m. – Grill the Gator Party at The Shrimp Dock (Bearden Location) $50
- 5 p.m. Pre-Concert Happy Hour at The Hill
- 9 p.m. Backup Planet at The Concourse at the International
Friday, September 23
- 8-10 a.m. – Gator Hator Breakfast at First Waatch (both locations)
- Gator Hator Lunch at Bucket Head Tavern
- 4 pm. Pre-Game-day Happy Hour at Roger’s Rockin Blues Cafe
- Gator Hator Pool Tournament at Billiards & Brews
- 8 p.m. – Gator Hator Bash at Wild Wing Café
Saturday, September 24
- Game-day Tailgate Party at Club LeConte 11 am ($20 – open to public)
For more information visit gatorhator.com.