We ate one of the finest meals you could eat anywhere. Then on another occasion we stuffed ourselves with chicken wings until we could barely walk. We got more than our fill of basketball, way too much fill of Big Blue Nation, listened to the music that gave Nashville its great nickname, toured the Johnny Cash Museum and nearly took up residence at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
Dr. Bruce Longest, Kent Moore, Casey Clark, Brad Logan and I have been traveling mostly together to the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament every year for what now seems like forever. We typically spend much of the drive there recounting all the past memories – and there’s been quite a few. We survived a direct hit from a tornado in the Georgia Dome, had one of the greatest afternoons of our lives at an outdoor watering hole in beautiful Tampa.
We’ve celebrated Mississippi State and Ole Miss championships, hung out with some of the top coaches and broadcasters, and frequented some of our favorite restaurants in the world including Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and Bone’s in Atlanta, all in the name of basketball and good friends.
We’ve officially added another restaurant to our list in Nashville’s Kayne Prime. This was our second straight year to visit this combination of a chef-chic boutique restaurant and a great American steakhouse. Among our favorites, if you ever have the chance to visit, are the house made bacon, “canoes of beef,” the most unique Caesar salad you’ll ever taste, and a list of steak options that will force you to come back multiple times.
We saw plenty of great basketball this trip, despite the fact that Ole Miss and Mississippi State were quick exits from the tournament, and some awful basketball courtesy of LSU and their dreadful 38-point performance against Texas A&M in the semifinals. The Rebels’ Stefan Moody scored 39 points by himself in their only tournament game, a loss to Alabama. And it should be pointed out he fouled out with more than a minute to play.
New Orleans will always be our favorite destination for anything, and the one time the SEC Tournament went to Tampa, my crew found it to be nothing less than spectacular. The conference, however, has decided to make Nashville the unofficial home of the tournament, scheduling it to remain in the Music City for eight of the next 10 years with one year diversions to St. Louis and Tampa (Maybe all our letters to the SEC office after the last Tampa Tourney finally paid off.).
Let me be clear, we have no objections to Nashville. The available restaurants and night life make it one of the more attractive cities in the United States for any event. It would be even more enjoyable during the tournament if there were about 10,000 less Kentucky fans, but that’s never going to happen. Something else that won’t happen – them hosting an SEC Tournament without us. There are too many memories yet to be made with great friends.