In a simpler time, the winner of the Tennessee-Kentucky game got a wooden beer barrel

Tennessee players celebrate with the beer barrel (photo from UTSports.com)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Remember when the winner of the end-of-season Tennessee-Kentucky football game got bragging rights and a wooden beer barrel?

Neither do I. But plenty of people do, including my brother’s father-in-law, who looked it up online during after our Thanksgiving meal.

Sure enough, starting in 1925, the winner earned a large beer barrel painted half orange and half blue. According to UT, “(The barrel) was rolled onto the field that year with the words “Ice Water” painted on it to avoid any outcries over an alcohol drum symbolizing a college rivalry.”

The tradition ended in 1998 after two people were killed, including a Kentucky football player, in an alcohol-related car accident just before the Tennessee game. Understandably, officials decided not to use the barrel that season. The following year, they decided to discontinue the tradition permanently.

The Vols (4-7, 1-6 SEC) play Kentucky (2-9, 0-7 SEC) on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.)