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College football: Radio host living on roof until Tennessee wins again

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 10/10/2019 Ryan Wilusz, Knoxville News Sentinel

KNOXVILLE—WNML sports radio host Tyler Ivens slept on the Toyota Knoxville roof Monday and Tuesday night with a drain for a bathroom, a tent for a bedroom and Interstate 40 as his scenic view.  

The Tennessee Vols football team's performance the rest of this season will determine when he gets to come down. But, according to a Tweet from his own radio show, it was Ivens' mouth that "finally got the best of him" and got him on the roof in the first place.

"It's like when you're out with your buddies drinking beer — 20 bucks he misses this field goal, 25 he drills it," he said. "You up the ante, men will be men, testosterone and all of a sudden it's like, 'All right, Ivens, what will you bet?'" 

Ivens' bet is simple: He will live on the roof until the Vols win another game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols (1-4, 0-2 SEC) play host to Mississippi State (3-2, 1-1) at Neyland Stadium (Noon, SEC Network). 

"I was born and raised here, been a Tennessee fan my whole life and I just thought it was ridiculous that people are panicking the way they are panicking right now," he said. "Do you honestly think I would be up here if I didn’t think they will beat Mississippi State?”

Toyota called in — and called his bluff

Ivens co-host Will West does not agree with his prediction. In fact, that's sort of what started this whole thing. 

Ivens said West questioned whether the Vols will even win a game in October. 

“You do realize Tennessee plays (South) Carolina and Mississippi State?" he said. "There's too many games they can win." 

This debate was happening at the same time Knox News shared a Tennessean story about a man who vowed to live on a billboard in 1988 until the Vols won a game. 

Ivens decided to put his money where his mouth is and said — on air — he would stand, not on a billboard, but on a building until the Vols win a game.

More specifically — at least in his mind — he would stand there until Saturday when Tennessee beats Mississippi State. 

a truck that has a sign on the side of a building: Local radio host Tyler Ivens of WNML camps atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins their next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State. © Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel Local radio host Tyler Ivens of WNML camps atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins their next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State.

A Toyota Knoxville employee called into the show to call his bluff and gave him just a few hours after the Monday show to get to the car dealership on Parkside Drive. 

"I packed for 90 degrees, and I packed for 40 degrees," Ivens said. "People really don't think I'm up here." 

'It sounds like Bristol out here'

Fans have also called his bluff. One guy messaged Ivens on social media to tell him that he brought him dinner and that he needed to come get it if he was really on the roof. 

Of course, he was, and Ivens gladly accepted the Chick-fil-A. 

a person sitting in a chair with a bag of luggage: Local radio host Erik Ainge of WNML rests in a hammock atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Aigne was joining Tyler Ivens who is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State. © Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel Local radio host Erik Ainge of WNML rests in a hammock atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Aigne was joining Tyler Ivens who is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State.

Other people have stopped by just to snap a photo of Ivens doing whatever it is that he's doing up there. On Tuesday, when Knox News stopped by, it was hanging out with a former Vols quarterback Erik Ainge, who also hosts a show on WNML. 

Ainge kept him company, hanging out in a hammock and playing golf on a portable putting green. Ivens also has cornhole boards and a Bluetooth speaker for entertainment when he's not busy prepping for the show or trying to sleep, which most definitely requires earplugs. 

"It sounds like Bristol out here," he said. “The noise has been difficult. But, look, I’m 33. I live in a house with air conditioning, running water and the internet at a click of a button. I guess it's just (difficult) knowing I’m confined to a single area.”

The dealership locks the door at night, which means no access to bathrooms. There is a drain on the roof, though, and people can use their imagination to figure out how that works, Ivens said.

And when it come to being confined, all he has to do is put on a headset to be anywhere in the world. 

"Kudos to our engineer team," he said. "At any time, if any station in America wanted to do an interview, I mean they literally just patch me in. Or if I want to do a simple check in with the station — I literally, this morning, rolled over on my air mattress and put my headset on."

a person sitting on a bed: A look inside the tent of local radio host Tyler Ivens atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State. © Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel A look inside the tent of local radio host Tyler Ivens atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State.

Ivens admits he had no idea how much support he would get — from the social media reaction to the people sending food and the simple honks from drivers passing by. 

He's confident. But what if UT loses?  

Ivens plans on going home to sleep in his own bed and not be bothered until his Monday show if Tennessee wins Saturday, which he thinks is possible following the team's efforts last week with freshman quarterback Brian Maurer in a 43-14 loss to Georgia.

"If they don't win, then I need to get comfortable — hopefully arrange for my golden retriever to comes see me a little bit more," he said. "I have been told he hasn’t been taking this too well. He's been sleeping under my desk at my house." 

a man holding a sign: Local radio host Tyler Ivens of WNML waves to I-40 traffic from his tent atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State. © Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel Local radio host Tyler Ivens of WNML waves to I-40 traffic from his tent atop Toyota Knoxville in West Knoxville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Ivens is camping on the roof of the car dealership until Tennessee wins its next game, which he is confident will happen Saturday when the Vols play Mississippi State.

Ivens wants to make it clear: He's not up there just to highlight the fact UT is 1-4. People who focus solely on the record and who are calling for Jeremy Pruitt to be fired are just "prisoners of the moment," he said. 

"I'm a Tennessee fan," he said. " I've made no secrets about that while I'm on the air. Am I a realest? Do I try to toe the neutral line more than being a Tennessee fan? Absolutely. I'm doing this because I have confidence in Tennessee." 

Ivens and West host "The Starting Lineup" weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WNML. The station is available to Knoxville listeners at 99.1 or online at sportsradiownml.com.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: College football: Radio host living on roof until Tennessee wins again

Related slideshow: Best of the 2019 college football season (Provided by imagn)


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