Tennessee defensive back Jimmy Weatherford, a Vol All-America selection in 1968, will never be confused with Alabama’s Terence Cody, but they share one thing in common.
Each blocked a field goal that saved a win for their team.
Cody, you will remember, had the block in the waning seconds of the 2009 team.
Weatherford did likewise 48 years ago today at Neyland Stadium, coming from the left side to block a Mike Dean attempt that would have given Alabama a 12-10 win.
In those days, no one thought to make a poster or a painting of the play. It’s right there on the game film (they used film in those long-ago days), since transferred to videotape.
The game was a tough one for Tide partisans to swallow. That has been true on both sides in the Tennessee-Alabama series all the way back to Gene McEver, part of “Hack, Mack, and Dodd.”
Alf Van Hoose of the Birmingham News had this priceless analysis: “The stage was set to make it one of college football’s all-time classics. The scene was fitting. Perfect. Storied old Neyland Stadium on a golden October Saturday. All it took was a 36-yard field goal by little Mike Dean. But in these cruel times, there is sometimes a jagged ending. Old prince and pauper tales may have been replaced. Life is hard.”
They don’t write stories that way any more.
So, in Doug Dickey’s fifth year at Tennessee, Alabama had won twice, by one (1966, 11-10) and 11 points (1964, 19-8), Tennessee had won twice by one (1968, 10-9) and 11 points (1967, 24-13), and there had been one tie (1965, 7-7).
Dickey was battling the Bear on even terms.
The Vols laid the wood to Alabama a year later at Legion Field by 41-14.
As Vol fans looked toward the 1970s, life was good.
As history records, however, there was danger lurking in the shadows.
After a 24-0 Tennessee win in 1970, the series took an ominous turn.
Between 1971 and 1981, it was all Alabama.
Those of us who were there remember it well.
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016