This Saturday, Tennessee and Kentucky will reprise one of the oldest rivalries in college football when they meet in Lexington for the 115th time.
The Volunteers have dominated the series, winning 80 of the 114 games and and 32 of the 34 since 1985. Despite the lopsided record, though, this matchup is still a conference rivalry that has been played for a long time and means a lot to both teams. The rivalry is definitely more heated in basketball, but these football teams don't like each other.
But the game was much cooler from 1925-1997, because it had a kick-ass trophy.
That's right, Tennessee and Kentucky used to play for an orange and blue beer barrel. Kentucky students introduced the barrel in 1925 as a sign of their upper hand in the rivalry at the time, and it was given to the winner of the game for the next seven decades.
Unfortunately, two Kentucky football players were involved in a fatal alcohol-related car crash during the 1998 season and the teams agreed it would be a pretty bad look to play for the Barrel that season. But then before the 1999 meeting, the schools discontinued the tradition permanently.
I totally understand why that decision was made at the time and it was absolutely the right decision then. But two decades later, I think enough time has passed that we can re-establish one of the SEC's great traditions. The SEC now allows schools to sell alcohol in their stadiums and arenas.
The allure of Southern college football is steeped heavily in the tradition that makes it so special, and the Beer Barrel is definitely part of that tradition for Tennessee and Kentucky. And as college football trophies go, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than an orange and blue beer barrel.
Have Coca-Cola sponsor it and call it the Coca-Cola Barrel, I don't care. But we need the trophy back.
Bring back The Barrel.