COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- While there has been plenty of snowfall
across Tennessee this winter, the region has not faced a bona fide
"blizzard" in quite some time.
That will change Monday night in Eblen Center when Tennessee Tech hosts Tennessee State in a men's basketball game at 7 p.m.
Whether or not the weather outside cooperates won't matter -- there is a "blizzard" warning being posted for inside Eblen Center for the Ohio Valley Conference game against the Tigers. Tennessee Tech Athletics in Bringing Back The Blizzard, and fan participation is the key.
"Blizzards" in Eblen Center became legendary in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one event going so far as to be selected by ESPN as the Play of the Day. That's not a play from the game, but the actual "blizzard" of Tech squares. The network used footage of Tech's blizzard as a key video element during it's lead-in to national telecasts for the remainder of the season.
Tech has found the original "Tech squares" for this blizzard -- small, square sheets of toilet paper -- and will provide them to fans in the stands prior to the game. No outside paper of any form will be allowed into Eblen Center. No objects should be thrown into the air except the "official" Tech squares.
Fans are asked to act in a responsible manner for the safety of the players, and to follow the OVC Sportsmanship guidelines by not throwing the paper onto the playing floor to hinder the game's progress. Throwing paper onto the floor could lead to ejection from Eblen Center.
"We're excited about bringing back the blizzard, and we're trying to manage it within the OVC Sportsmanship guidelines," said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. "It's an event from the past that our fans and students always got excited about. We're asking fans to contain the blizzard within the stands so we don't interfere with the game."
Fans wait in anticipation for Tech's first points of the game. As soon as the Golden Eagles score their first basket, the air is filled with Tech squares, sometimes so thick that the "blizzard" blocks out the arena lights and shadows engulf the floor.
"It's important that we have one blizzard at our first points, that it stays in the seats, and that nobody throws any items after that," Wilson said. "That's the main message we need to impress upon our fans."
Tenessee Tech's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has been a proponent of bringing back the blizzard since school began in August. Brooke Mayo, the 2010-11 president of SAAC, encourages fans to show good sportsmanship.
"We're encouraging fans to throw the Tech Squares up into the stands, and not at the floor," Mayo said. "We think it can have the same effect, but will stay within OVC guidelines, and still be a dramatic event for fans to enjoy and experience."
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow?