Butch Jones does not like the term "emotional." The first-year football coach instead prefers the word "passionate."
They must be combined to effectively communicate the significance of a scene that occurred in the moments after UT defeated South Carolina on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
As the celebration raged on the southeast corner of Shield-Watkins Field, Jones – as if foggily recalling UT football history – began directing The Pride of the Southland Band as it played "Rocky Top."
But if he knew the historical significance of his actions, it must have been through word of mouth, not by video.
Instead of ascending the drum major's ladder like Peyton Manning did years before him, Jones climbed into the front row of the stands where the band sits and directed the joyous chorus from there.
Finally, he made his way to the ladder. And instead of calling drum major Jessica Henderson down and claiming the stage for himself, he climbed a shorter ladder that stood beside her and the two directed the stadium together in a deafening rendition of "Rocky Top" that the UT program has been waiting years for: the rendition that carried the jubilation of a nationally significant victory.
For that football-centered reason alone, it will be a moment remembered and shown when the 2013 Tennessee-South Carolina game is recalled in the future.
But for a messier reason – one that most will have lost sight of in 10 years when telling about the experience or watching it on video – the moment carried a greater significance for the parties directly involved.
In the two weeks between the Georgia and South Carolina games, the band engaged in public warfare with the UT athletic department to defend its traditions and overall importance against what the band perceived as a gradual marginalization of its role since athletic director Dave Hart arrived in 2011.
In those two weeks, the issue divided UT fans – some siding with the band, others with the athletic department and the modernization of Neyland Stadium's game-day atmosphere.
Predictably, Director of Bands Gary Sousa was placed on leave by the university for his role as an instigator of the debate, meaning that for the first time in 17 years, The Pride of the Southland Band finished preparation for its famous "Circle Drill" without the band equivalent of a head football coach.
In the wake of at least temporarily losing Sousa and in the face of forthcoming adversity, the band performed its intricately detailed halftime show, and was also there after the game to provide a memory that canned hip-hop music will never bring to a UT football game.
And in the midst of the polarizing debate, Jones toed the fence in a symbolic way as he stood beside Henderson in what can only be described as a passionately emotional moment.
"Our band is a part of us," Jones said, "and to be a part of that is our way of saying thank you."
David Cobb is a junior in journalism & electronic media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @DavidWCobb or in the office at (865) 974-0646.