The 1962 Alabama game marked the first home contest of the year for the Vols, after road games at Auburn (a 22-21 loss at Legion Field), Mississippi State (a 7-6 loss at Crump Stadium in Memphis), and Georgia Tech (a 17-0 loss at Grant Field).
(The Vols had also opened the 1958 home slate in mid-October against Alabama, but with better luck, winning 14-7.)
Tennessee’s game, 52 years ago today, against the 1961 national champion Crimson Tide, won by Alabama 27-7, had another historic angle. It was televised on CBS, the first telecast emanating from Shields-Watkins Field, now part of “Neyland Stadium,” so named that day.
It was Bear Bryant’s first coaching win in Knoxville after drawing back a nub in his time at Kentucky and in his first two games there as head man at Alabama. Joe Namath, in the days before being known as “Broadway Joe,” completed 9 of 13 passes for 148 yards, including a 35-yard TD strike to Benny Nelson.
It was 12-7 after three quarters, but the Tide put the game away in the fourth canto.
It got to be habit-forming for Bryant to win in Knoxville, as the Tide won in 1964, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, and 1980, against losses in 1960, 1968, 1970, and 1982.
Television thus made its first appearance at Shields-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium, for better or worse. The cameras would not come back until Nov. 19, 1966, on ABC, in a regionally televised game against Kentucky, but in the years to follow, the tube returned more and more times so that televised games are now the rule these days rather than the exception.
It wasn’t always that way.
Monday, Oct. 20, 2014