“Always a Battle”

Have not been by the stadium yet to see the new and improved video board, but look forward to doing so. Ever since the coach-of-whom-we-do-not-speak was let go back in November, getting his picture off the board was a major priority. That really sent Big Orange Country into a massive frenzy.

His pic is gone now, and the fan base has managed to take a collective deep breath and move on toward other, perhaps more important, matters.

Maybe.

Until the 2018 season kicks off.

Maybe not.

There will always be a battle to be fought.

Real or imagined.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“Its First Taste of Sheep”

What we have seen recently is a fan base flexing its collective muscles when it believes it has been wronged, believes that no one is paying attention, i.e. the Greg Schiano coaching search fiasco, the battle over the Lady Vols nickname and logo, and, more recently, how long it took to get Butch’s visage off the video board. Was there a crane needed or not? Fans were outraged. In each case, the results of fan protests were certainly impressive.

It was all equivalent to a wolf getting its first taste of sheep.

The sky is now the limit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

“Mere Mortals”

 

One last Alabama question.

Why does Alabama let mere mortal coaches walk on the sideline where Bear Bryant walked?

Over the years, the Crimson Tide had their bench area opposite the press box at Legion Field and Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The east side is in the sun field, but standing on the east side has the advantage of always being in the television shot during the game. Rumor has it that Bryant was always cognizant of what the cameras were and how he could be in the shot play after play.

That may be urban legend, but makes sense. There was nothing, it seems, that escaped Bryant’s attention, the Bear having a keen sense of the smallest detail.

Things changed under “Coach Fran” with the team moving to the west side. Coach Shula continued that trend as did Nick Saban. Coach Mike Price might have done so, but was there for such a short period of time we’ll never know.

Here’s the bottom line.

One. Does all this matter?

Probably not.

Two, why does Alabama let mere mortal coaches walk on the sideline where Bear Bryant walked?

Good questions all.

Friday, Oct. 27, 2017

“38-7 Over Florida in 1970”

What a day it was in Knoxville this day in 1970, as reported in that day’s edition of the KN-S.

Tennessee took Florida to the woodshed by a 38-7 count yesterday, raising the Vol record to 5-1 and propelling the Vols into the Top 10 at No. 9, heading toward a game in Memphis against Wake Forest the next week.

It climaxed a tumultuous two-week period in which the Vols knocked off Alabama 24-0 and Florida, both games at home. Against the Gators, Bobby Scott threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Jackie Walker and Conrad Graham each had interception returns for touchdowns, and all was well on an overcast day in Knoxville.

Tennessee fans gave Doug Dickey, their team’s coach from 1964 through 1969, a heart-warming ovation as he left the field. Over the years, he has often called it a touching moment.

Tennessee went on to an 11-1 record and Sugar Bowl victory over Air Force that season. The 1970 group is one of the favorite teams brought up when Vol fans discuss such things.

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

P.S. There have been times, historically speaking, that the KN-S or even the KNS, has reported a Vol victory over the Gators.

Honest.

“A Loss to the Mean Green”

By late afternoon today in 1975, the unthinkable had happened at Neyland Stadium. North Texas State, a decided underdog left Neyland Stadium as a 21-14 winner over Tennessee, a decision that sent shockwaves all over the expanse of Big Orange Country.

Russ Bebb called it “one of the most humiliating Tennessee losses of all time in the minds of Vol fans.”

Tennessee racked up more than 500 total yards, but only scored 14 points. After huffing and puffing to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, the Vols gave up a kickoff return for a score that turned the game the Mean Green’s way.

It took 40 years to square the accounts with North Texas, with the Vols winning 24-0 on Nov. 24, 2015.

Wonder when the next opportunity to take the lead in the series will come?

For some folks, it can’t come soon enough.

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017

“Who Was That Quarterback?”

Tennessee defeated Louisville 59-6 this day in 1953, highlighted by an interception return for a score by linebacker Ray Martin covering 100 yards. The Louisville player who threw the interception turned out to be a pretty good professional signal-caller.

That would be Johnny Unitas of Baltimore Colts fame.

You never know who is on the opposing side of the field. Could be someone who became really famous.

Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017

“Post-Alabama Worries”

After Tennessee defeated Alabama 41-34 on Oct. 15, 1983, there was some justifiable concern there might be a letdown the next week against Georgia Tech, much the way it had happened a year earlier.

The worry was persistent, but overblown.

The final score?

Tennessee 37, Tech 3.

That settled that concern, at least until a year later after Tennessee again defeated Alabama, and Tech showed up a week later… again.

The Vols did win… again.

Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017

“Those Were the Days?”

The Tennessee-Alabama game 50 years ago today at Legion Field was exceptionally memorable as the Vols, rated No. 7 (AP) took the measure of the No 6-rated Tide by 24-13.

Walter Chadwick scored a TD on the game’s opening drive, threw a TD pass to Ken DeLong in the third quarter, and Albert Dorsey had three fourth quarter interceptions off Snake Stabler, the final one for the game-clinching score.

It was the Vols’ first victory over Alabama since 1960 and helped propel Tennessee to a final No. 2 national ranking and Orange Bowl berth against Oklahoma.

Those were the days, weren’t they?

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017

“October 20, 2017”

The University of Tennessee dedicated Neyland stadium this day in 1962, along with a new west side upper deck and press box. Gen. Neyland had died in March, but had been kept up to date on construction details in his hospital room in New Orleans.

In regard to the fourth estate, Neyland had said, “We’re going to build the best press box in the country. We hope it will improve the quality of writing that’s done there.”

CBS had the telecast that October day, with Alabama spoiling the party, winning 27-7. The Vols were 0-4 in the conference after that game, having lost to Auburn, Mississippi State (with assistant coaches Ken Donahue and Johnny Majors, both former Vols, devising the State defense), and Georgia Tech, leading up to the Alabama game.

There had been cries to ditch Tennessee’s beloved single-wing, what with most high schools playing the “T” formation, but Wyatt stuck with what he had, despite the Vols losing East Tennessee quarterback products Steve Sloan (to Alabama) and Steve Spurrier (to Florida).

“Every team I know uses the single-wing,” Wyatt had told David Bloom of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “They just call it something else. We vary on the old style and we’re going to vary on it some more. But I’m not going to tell the world how. Would you?”

Wyatt was let go in June of 1963 after pushing a sportswriter into a swimming pool at the league meetings. Jim McDonald coached in 1963, before athletic director Bob Woodruff rolled the dice with a youthful Arkansas assistant coach named Doug Dickey. Dickey instituted the “T” formation and the Vols surged to the heights fans had deemed a divine right. Things haven’t been the same since.

It was one Saturday in October 1962, but the aftermath of that day, a loss to Alabama, led the Vols back to the Promised Land of college football.

That was 55 years ago, but things appear eerily similar in mid-October 2017.

The history of this era has yet to be written.

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017