In 1992, Nov. 13 was on a Friday.
The Vols were slated to play Memphis State the next day at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Events happening tonight, 24 years ago, however, still overshadow the game, final score Tennessee 26, Memphis State 21.
The venue was the Wilson World Hotel in the Bluff City.
John Majors resigned as Tennessee’s head football coach that night, saying, in part, “Since I have not been given the opportunity by the UT administration to remain as head football coach, I am, effective Dec. 31, 1992, relinquishing my duties connected to the University of Tennessee.”
Fans outside the hotel, and at the game the next day, appeared to be shocked at what was transpiring, gathering with saddened faces, some fighting back tears, most not believing what was happening.
Looking back, it had been a year of travail, one of the strangest in Vol history. Emotions ran high. Everyone seemed to have an opinion. That’s the way it is when a native son, a program hero, steps down, deserving, as Russ Bebb wrote, a “far nobler farewell.”
For the record, here are a couple of certainties, regardless of the position Tennessee fans might have taken then, or might take even now. There is a cogent argument to be made that choosing up sides, then or now, helps no one, and things are tough enough in the SEC without internal strife in the program.
For John Majors, there were the great moments of his playing career that led to his 1987 induction as a player into the College Football Hall of Fame.
There were the magic times, the magic moments, of a coaching career during which Majors paid his dues as an assistant and then was successful in building programs at three schools.
The name “Majors” is thus written large in Tennessee football history. As Haywood Harris noted when John’s brother Bill was killed in the car-train wreck of October 1965, “It is enough for longtime residents of this community to say he was a Majors.” That’s how strong the Majors name was and is today around Big Orange Country.
One of the dominant (and saddest) recollections of John Elizabeth Bobo Majors that weekend, particularly after the game, was watching her walk up the players tunnel at the south end of the stadium into the afternoon sunlight, by herself, alone with her thoughts and memories after the events of that weekend.
That’s the way things appeared today, Nov. 13, 1992, and into the weekend.
P.S. On this day in 1969, KNS sports editor Tom Siler picked Tennessee to defeat Ole Miss 33-21 two days later at Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson. The final was Ole Miss 38, Tennessee 0. No further comment is necessary.
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016