Craig Holley, Auburn University VS . Terri Holley, University of Alabama
Terri Holley will never forget her first Iron Bowl as a married woman. It was 1989, the first time the notorious matchup between Auburn and Alabama was played outside of Birmingham since the rivalry began in 1893. Surrounded by a sea of orange, she had to endure watching her beloved Alabama team be knocked out of an SEC championship by the Tigers. She and her husband, Craig, had only been married a few months, and his Auburn diploma put the newlyweds on shaky ground. "I remember thinking 'What have I gotten myself into?'" she laughs. "I told him I would never come to another game in that stadium with him."
Happily, the young couple endured the controversy and Terri relented on her promise. She even admits to rooting for the War Eagles (when not playing Alabama of course). The teams are also pretty evenly matched, both boasting recent National Championships.
Auburn is only slightly ahead with 12 wins during their 22 years of marriage - a point Craig relishes making. "He even brainwashed our children," jokes Terri. "He would literally make the girls sit in his lap when they were little, telling them all about Auburn football."
For years it worked, and Terri would have to watch every Iron Bowl as the sole Alabama fan in her family. But when it came time for their eldest daughter, Ann Elizabeth, to go to college, the tides turned (or Roll Tides as it were). In true Auburn/Alabama fashion, she pulled a last-minute upset. Although she was enrolled in Auburn, she decided at the last minute to go to Alabama. For now, their daughter Sara, a senior at GPS, remains in her dad's camp. Only time will tell if she will continue the household rivalry. And while the competition is fierce, the couple share a healthy respect for their opposing team.
"We try to be kind," says Craig. "We know there's always next year and it could go the other way."
Maggie Shutters, University of Alabama VS. Buddy Templeton, University of Tennessee
As the youngest of three girls, Maggie Shutters vividly remembers watching sports with her dad growing up. "I think I was his last hope for a son," she jokes. "But that was always our connection."
Now on a football Saturday they can barely answer each others' phone calls, particularly if the University of Tennessee is playing Alabama. Shutters says she can't recall why she decided to break her longstanding UT family tradition. "Maybe there was a hint of teenage rebellion, I don't know," she says, admitting the move made her a bit of a black sheep. "He likes to claim that all the money he spent on private school went down the drain when I decided to go to Alabama."
Her father, Buddy Templeton, remembers that fateful day when she broke the news.
"I kind of panicked at first," he says. "I thought she was just teasing so for a while I wouldn't accept it. Then I realized I was fighting a losing battle and swallowed my pride. My hands were shaking when I had to write that first check to the University of Alabama."
Entering in the fall of 1999, Shutters admits her college career was a rough time for her team, going through four coaches in four years - something Templeton never hesitated to bring up. Through the years the rivalry has surfaced in different ways, with Shutters sneaking a "Bama Dad" bumper sticker on his truck or Templeton secretly hanging UT ornaments on his grandsons' Christmas trees. Shutters isn't too concerned since she taught her two sons to say "Roll Tide" shortly after "Mama" and "Dada." And while the rivalry makes family reunions a little spicier, deep down Templeton has seemed to come around to his daughter's decision. "I'm just glad she didn't go to Auburn," he quips.
Alana Phillips, University of Alabama VS . Joe Phillips, University of Georgia
Rivalries can sometimes tear friends or families apart. But for Alana and Joe Phillips, it actually brought them together. After meeting on a New Orleans mission trip in September of 2007, the couple spent their first date watching the Georgia/Alabama game - a rare SEC matchup. "The only reason I invited her was because she was the only Alabama fan I knew," claims Joe.
After spending several game weekends on the couch, Joe took Alana to her first UGA game as a second date, followed by a third date at Alana's alma mater. The open-minded couple even bought hats and shirts so they could dress in the opposing team's colors (when not playing each other of course). "It actually works out because even though we're a house divided our teams don't play each other frequently enough and there's not a huge rivalry," explains Alana.
That's not to say they are tepid fans. In fact they wrote into their wedding vows that they would cheer for the other person's team when not playing each other, and instead of saying "I do" at their 2008 ceremony they said "Roll Tide" and "Go Dawgs." During Christmas, their tree is divided with Georgia and Alabama ornaments and their 3-month-old son, Luke, owns both UGA and Bama onesies.
But beyond their inter-collegiate marriage, the couple has much bigger football problems to face. After living in Chattanooga for several years, Joe's job as a Methodist minister took them to Harriman, Tennessee - a stone's throw from UT's campus. "We both agree that if either of us had been a Tennessee fan it probably wouldn't have worked out, so being surrounded can be a little tough," laughs Alana. As for Luke's college fate, Alana says she fears that growing up in East Tennessee will eventually sway him to attend UT. But as equal opportunity fans, they remain levelheaded. "It'll be his choice," Joe says diplomatically. Alana adds, "But until he can choose, we'll make sure we each get the opportunity to dress him on Saturdays."
Dolores Haynes, University of Tennessee VS. Ben Haynes, University of Georgia
Dolores Haynes vividly recalls in high school plucking a piece of the Sanford Stadium hedge when the Bulldogs beat the Vols, reveling in her hatred for all things Rocky Top. But when it came time for college, she found herself breaking the UGA family mold and stepping into Big Orange country. Despite two older siblings who'd spent their college careers in Athens, Haynes decided on UT thanks to a plum position as basketball manager under much-celebrated Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt. This move sparked an intense sibling rivalry with oldest brother Ben, a former Bulldog football manager and possibly the team's No. 1 fan.
"He's the biggest diehard you'll ever see with his red pants with black Gs all over," says Dolores, who can barely be in the same ZIP code with him when the two teams face off. "He still goes to every home game and even travels for the team sometimes."
When Ben was working as a rookie Dade County police officer and couldn't get Saturdays off, he would drive around with UGA flags on his patrol car. And while the trash talk can sometimes reach epic proportions, the worst occasion was when Ben went to one of Dolores' final basketball games her senior year. The Lady Vols were playing UGA in Athens, and Ben showed up in head to toe Georgia gear. "When I met Pat I said 'I love my sister to death but hey, I'm a dawg through and through,'" he laughs. The rivalry has caused a bit of a tense situation for their parents. On game days it's a coin toss as to which team colors their dad will wear, says Dolores. Still, she feels she's done a pretty good job of converting him. Ben won't admit defeat.
"I think secretly my father has always been a Tennessee fan, kind of living in the shadows his whole life," he jokes. "He's just been ashamed to admit it as any Tennessee fan should be."