“What Time Is It?”

Saw VFL and former Vol Network analyst Bill Anderson at dinner tonight and immediately thought of a special moment at Kentucky in 1997.

The kickoff was imminent, with the Vols massed at the northwest corner, ready to take the field.

John Ward set the stage as usual, but deferred to Bill at a critical juncture in his spiel.

Bill was surprised, especially when John said, “What time is it?”

That led to a momentary pause until Bill caught on and said, “I didn’t know I could say that,” and then uttered those famous words: “It’s football time in Tennessee.”

That led to more than a few smiles in the broadcast booth, as everyone realized what was transpiring.

It was a special moment of a special time in Tennessee football.

It was in the days of John Ward and Bill Anderson behind the microphones, two special people in the history of Tennessee football.

Monday, Sept. 26, 2016

“Some Random Thoughts”

 

Some random thoughts from yesterday

The parking situation in G-10 was much better. There seemed to some thought given to moving traffic easily to the available spaces since the season opener, and the attendants are abundantly polite.

Still have those special folks who want to back into the parking spaces, even when it is abundantly clear that such activity is verboten. Same with those people who insist on expanding their tailgates into available spaces, despite clear instructions to the contrary.

Wonder why scores of other games are not posted on the message boards at various times during the game? They don’t have to be announced, but they could be posted, without fanfare, of course.

No one has yet explained why “Uncle Verne” called the “Tennessee Waltz” the Vol fight song.

Somebody needs to get hold of CBS’s post-game coverage and put that into a video. Talk about an impressive few minutes of pure orange across the stadium. Someone mentioned that last night, and a check of available video seemed to bear that out.

All in all, despite some bumps along the way, a great day in Big Orange Country.

Can’t imagine any better way to have spent the day.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016

“Amazing Turns”

Someone called and said Verne Lundquist called Mrs. Meek’s “Alma Mater” the school fight song in the post-game of today’s Tennessee-Florida broadcast.

Could that really be true?

We had history repeat itself today when Antonio Calloway fair caught a kickoff down at the southwest corner of Shields-Watkins Field. In 1971, a Penn State receiver did likewise at the northwest corner.

History takes some amazing turns, doesn’t it?

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016

“Getting to the Period”

There was a bothersome 24-24 tie with Army this day in 1984.

With that said, there’s not much else you can say.

A writing teacher once said that, when you’ve said all you can, end whatever you’ve written with a period and move on.

As they say, the problem with a period is that most folks don’t get to it quickly enough.

That season was a long time ago.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016

“Smokey Gray”

Let’s see now.

You’re a major college, whose colors and orange and white, except for those diehard souls who have somehow convinced folks that gray might be an alternate color. That assertion is still under further review, as the folks on television say, but that’s another story.

The colors are orange and white, and you’re going to have a checkerboard look to Neyland Stadium this Saturday (the Vol Historian resides in a white square up there in Section OO, Row 8, for your information), attempting to show Florida a sea of orange.

That’s the premise. The stadium will be awash in orange.

With all this emphasis on orange, what color uniforms do you wear?

Be careful how you answer.

[Drum roll, please, with crowd at fever pitch from Johnson County to Shelby County, Polk County to Lake County.]

With all this orange, here comes the Vols bursting through the “T” in “Smokey gray,” the newest color combination to captivate Vol fans.

Talk about stepping on your story.

Should be an interesting afternoon at the stadium named for Gen. Bob, the field named for Mr. Shields and his wife, the former Ms. Watkins. Not to mention Col. Tom’s press box.

We’re waiting breathlessly.

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016

P.S. The Vol Historian has nominated himself to be on the selection committee for the Athletic Department’s Hall of Fame. That’s the one without Gen. Neyland, Doug Dickey, Todd Helton, Jimmy England, and other such notables, that no one, no way, could find a place for earlier this year when the first combined class was announced.

Haven’t heard from the powers-that-be on the committee.

That’s enough for now.

Do you have your notebook out, Butch?

“Reaching for the Stars”

No one knew what to expect when Tennessee and Army opened the 1965 season this day at Neyland Stadium. The Vols were in their second year of the “T” formation under Doug Dickey, with the experts predicting another so-so season.

Tennessee defeated Army 21-0 that day, on its way to an 8-1-2 season that helped the Vols move back into the nation’s elite and stamped youthful head coach Doug Dickey as a “comer” in the collegiate coaching ranks.

Russ Bebb called it “one of the most extraordinary a Vol team had ever encountered, albeit a bittersweet one. Certainly no Tennessee team had ever faced a run of such triumph and tragedy, exhilaration and heartbreak.”

After a fallow period from 1958 through 1964, when the Vols didn’t grace a bowl game, this season got Vol fans’ attention in a big way.

When Vol fans ransack their memory banks for the teams that catch their fancy, this team has to be right near the top. In only his second season, Dickey had Tennessee and Vol fans alike reaching for the stars.

The first step on that road back took place today, 51 years ago.

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016

“It’s How You Finish”

The 26-26 tie with UCLA 31 years ago today was frustrating, to say the least, but what happened after that is the stuff of which dreams are made: wins over Auburn and Alabama, an SEC title, a memorable win over Miami in the Sugar Bowl, and a final No. 4 ranking in the AP poll.

The Vols were No. 19 after the Memphis State game, but steadily moved up in the rankings, ending up in the Sugar Bowl at No. 8.

Vol fans who watched this team play remember what a special group this was.

It survived the loss of quarterback Tony Robinson to a knee injury against Alabama. Daryl Dickey came in and played in yeoman-like fashion.

Vol defenders played like gangbusters, especially down the stretch run of the season.

Remember the old adage of sport.

It’s not how you start.

It’s how you finish.

This team definitely “finished.”

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

“A Dangerous Circumstance”

 

Tennessee didn’t play on Sept. 13 until the 1975 season, when the Vols defeated Maryland 26-8 at Neyland Stadium.

The Vols had closed the 1974 season with a 7-3 win over the Terps in the Liberty Bowl, and then found the Terps as the season-opening game nearly a year later.

The win over the Terps sent the Vols and their fans to Los Angeles for a game against UCLA a week later. Tennessee was ranked No. 10 in the AP poll, and all appeared to be well.

Not really.

Alas, UCLA spoiled the fun with a 34-28 win.

A 30-7 loss to Alabama several weeks later and a crushing 21-14 defeat at the hands of upstart North Texas State relegated the season to the no-so-hot category. Then there was a 23-6 loss to Ole Miss at Memphis and a 17-14 loss to Vanderbilt in the home finale.

At about 10 p.m. tonight, however, 41 years ago, all was well.

That can be a dangerous circumstance.

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016

“Anything Might Happen”

Before the 1963 season, new head coach Jim McDonald stumped the state, taking a message about that season’s Volunteers to booster clubs and anyone who listen across the state of Tennessee.

“You won’t be able to sit in the stands and tell what we’re going to do,” “Big Jim” said.

“With our multiple offense or modified single wing, anything might happen. We’ll still be basically single-wing, but I’m going to insert some T plays. We’ll put more balls in the air than you’ve ever seen at Tennessee.”

What happened?

The Vols completed 52 of 149 passes that season en route to a 5-5 season. The 149 attempts were the most dating to 1950, 16 more than in 1962. The number of completions was the same. There were 10 interceptions thrown in 1963, nine in 1962. There were 15 TDs rushing, 10 passing.

The Vols lost to Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Alabama, and Ole Miss, giving up 108 points all told. They defeated Richmond, Chattanooga, Tulane, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, scoring 142 in the process.

It was an interesting season, spiced by an argument between former Vols Bob Woodruff, the U. T. AD, and Bobby Dodd, head coach at Tech, over a “hide-out” play run by the Yellow Jackets. The argument was dicey, Dodd calling Woodruff, his one-time assistant “the worst public relations athletic director in the United States.”

The times were a-changing in Knoxville, as Bob Dylan wrote, and this was the last gasp of the single-wing. The “T” formation would be in Knoxville the next year, the team being coached by former Woodruff pupil Doug Dickey.

The 1963 season was the bridge between the past and the future of Tennessee football.

McDonald had said, “Anything might happen,” and he was right.

He didn’t know how right he was.

Monday, Sept. 12, 2016

“In Full Flower”

That was an interesting article today by John Adams about the trials and travails of covering a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in beautiful Bristol. It was a vintage Adams story, with John’s occasionally trenchant wit in full flower.

Wonder how many fans might have buyer’s remorse once the get to their seats and see the playing field out there well in front of them, perhaps in another Zip code?

Wonder how long it will take for someone else to find a bigger venue to break the record?

Wonder how much a fan could end up paying for a set of binoculars?

Wonder how long it might take for the Knoxvillians and other East Tennesseans at the game to get home?

Lots of wondering here, but it’s necessary wondering.

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016