Kenny Chesney picks Tennessee over Florida; USC over Stanford
Country music star Kenny Chesney is from Luttrell, Tenn., so it was no surprise that he chose his beloved Tennessee Volunteers to defeat Florida in a Southeastern Conference football game a little later Saturday.
Chesney made his pick in Knoxville on the stage of ESPN’s College GameDay, with thousands of orange-clad Volunteers fans cheering in the background.
Tennessee is ranked No. 23 in this week’s Associated Press media poll, but the Vols have lost seven straight against Florida, which comes in ranked No. 18.
Chesney has called himself UT’s No. 1 fan, but a few years ago his allegiance was questioned after he performed during a spring concert in Gainesville, Fla., home to the University of Florida.
During the concert, Gators fans came on stage and put a Florida football helmet on the singer’s head, and he wore it for a time while performing.
Later the same year, Chesney attended a Tennessee-Florida football game and was photographed posing with Gators’ cheerleaders.
A few Tennessee fans were so upset by that image that they emailed a Knoxville country music station, demanding that Chesney’s songs be taken off the play list.
Chesney laughed off the criticism -- hey, when it comes to posing with the Florida cheerleaders, he may be a UT fan but he’s also a red-blooded American male -- and Saturday backed up his pick by saying that for the first time in several years he felt Tennessee had skill-position players that were every bit as good as those at Florida.
Chesney did go against the Orange tide with another of his picks, though. He chose USC to beat Stanford, a pick that was greeted with some boos.
“You can tell how much they love Lane Kiffin,” Chesney quipped, referring to the crowd chanting against USC’s coach in the background. Kiffin, of course, jilted Tennessee after just one year, leaving to become USC’s coach.
Chesney’s other picks: Connecticut over Maryland; Boston College over Northwestern -- only, he said, because he recently met Doug Flutie; Utah over Brigham Young; Michigan State over Notre Dame; Arizona State over Missouri; Texas over Mississippi; and Alabama over Arkansas.
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