“Aren’t We All?”

Have been reading a book entitled “God Bless the Vols,” written by a fellow named Ed McMinn. It’s one of those books you can start reading anywhere and get good vibes from it.

It’s a look at the great moments in Tennessee athletic history, with a scriptural perspective attached to each.

There’s a great quote from Dodger announcer VInce Scully, who has called baseball forever, seemingly, more than 60 years.

When told that a player was injured and was listed by the medics as “day-to-day,” Scully’s response was vintage.

“Aren’t we all?” he said.

Check it out at fine bookstores everywhere.

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

“Growing Up”

After a 17-17 tie with Georgia in the 1968 season opener, Tennessee head football coach Doug Dickey said, “A lot of sophomores grew up out there today.”

That group, led by Chip Kell, Don Denbo, Tim Priest, Lester McClain, and Bobby Scott, among others, never lost a varsity game on Shields-Watkins Field.

Butch Jones didn’t say a lot of freshmen “grew up out there” against Utah State.

But he could have.

Sophomores, once cause for worry among football coaches, are many times now the veterans, two, in some cases three, years into the program.

Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

P.S. Good start for Jeff Jarnigan as the public address “Voice of Neyland Stadium,” understated, yet effective. Didn’t overshadow the event and managed pronouncing the names of players on each team correctly.

Wonder why the band only played two songs, plus Mrs. Meek’s “Alma Mater,” in a 7-minute run on Shields-Watkins Field.

“Intriguing Moments”

There were some intriguing moments in 1987, a campaign that ended up 10-2-1, first season since 1972 with 10 wins.

Darrin Miller grabbed a fumbled pitch and lumbered goalward in the season opener against Iowa. It took a while, even with a number of Vols catching up and leading the convoy. On the ABC telecast, Keith Jackson said something about the “aches and pains” catching up with Darrin as he made his way down the field.

Against California, Tennessee led by a prohibitive margin late in the game when Cal finally scored. The play so affected Cal radio announcer Joe Starkey that he proclaimed that the Cal score “had silenced the large crowd here at Neyland Stadium.”

Not quite, but it was a great line. Nothing like a little hyperbole behind the mike.

When Mississippi State higher-ups failed to cue the pre-game invocation in a game at Starkville, one writer wrote that it “obvious that the Bulldogs on the field didn’t have a prayer.” They didn’t. The final was 38-10.

The Vols had a yeoman-like goal line stand to save a 24-22 win at Kentucky. Mike Whitehead, seemingly headed for obscurity, made the key play on Mark Higgs on fourth down in the shadow of the Vol goal.

Tennessee rallied from a 28-3 deficit in the second quarter to defeat Vanderbilt 38-36. The Vols came back by sticking with the running game and throwing enough passes to keep the defense honest.

William Howard, playing his best in his senior season, and Reggie Cobb led the way. Howard turned blocker and helped make Cobb’s rookie season a successful one.

Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014

P.S. So, Megan Venable thought her grandfather, “Big Sam,” was in the famed picture shown in Sam’s story. It was, in actuality, Gen. Neyland, as Sam so cogently pointed out.

Others have wondered about Gen. Neyland. One player, probably, Jamal Lewis, said Neyland was in the Civil War, while another, seeing Neyland’s picture in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center dressed in blue work clothes, wondered why there was a picture of the janitor so prominently displayed in the main entrance.

So many stories, so little time.


“A Significant Season-Opening Win”

Was there ever a better season opener than the 1956 contest against Auburn, a 35-7 Tennessee win on Legion Field? You’d have to look long and hard for a more significant season-opening win.

That was the lidlifter for a 10-0 regular season in which the Vols outscored their opposition 268-75, highlighted by that classic 6-0 win at Georgia Tech in November. The Vols won the SEC title with a 6-0 record.

The win over Auburn catapulted the Vols from nowhere to No. 9 in the AP poll and the Vols were there the rest of the way, including a brief stint at No. 1 the week of the Ole Miss game. The Vols won 27-7, yet dropped, inexplicably, to No. 2 the next week.

Head coach Bowden Wyatt ended his second season by grabbing the brass ring, being named national coach of the year. Tailback John Majors finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Stockton Adkins of Union City won the first of two Jacobs Trophies as the SEC’s best blocker.

“We played each game as it came,” Wyatt said. “I’m happy for the kids that it is all over and they came through undefeated. They’re a great bunch.”

The season wasn’t over, however, although the polls closed before the Sugar Bowl game against Baylor. Baylor won by a 13-7 count, as the Vols lost four interceptions and a fumble in a classic reversal of the way Tennessee has won so many games over the years. Baylor rushed for 275 yards on the day, running 75 plays to Tennessee’s 49.

Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

“For Peyton’s Contributions”

When Peyton Manning’s No. 16 Tennessee jersey was retired at the 2005 South Carolina game, Rick Clausen wore No. 7, the jersey worn by brother Casey, from that game onward.

The story?

“I had worn No. 16 my entire career,” said Rick. “That night, it was only fitting for Peyton to walk off the field with that jersey, for his contributions to the university and local community, the state, and to football.”

Well done, Rick.

Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

“Measured for Goat’s Horns”

Tennessee unveiled retro jerseys for the 2004 season opener against UNLV. They were the white shirts with the orange collar worn from 1971-73. With the old shirts came two freshman quarterbacks, Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer, leading the Vols.

The two quarterback system worked well until Schaeffer was injured against South Carolina and Ainge was likewise injured against Notre Dame. Phillip Fulmer then brought the second Clausen brother at Tennessee, Richard James Clausen, off the planks, and he led the Vols down the stretch run.

The Vols had impressive victories against Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, with the only regular season blemishes being against Auburn and Notre Dame. The Notre Dame game was Ty Willingham’s last victory as Irish head coach. The Vols made an appearance in the SEC title game, losing 38-28 to Auburn.

James Wilhoit, measured for goat’s horns after missing an extra point late in the Florida game, booted a 50-yard field goal to win the game in the final seconds. Corey Campbell had a late interception to seal the victory over Alabama. The Vols also went to the wire to win against Georgia, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, all three too close for comfort.

The Vols led from start to finish in the Cotton Bowl, taking a 38-7 win over Texas A&M.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

“Worth What You Paid for It”

Just out of curiosity, why do the Tennessee game notes show the Tennessee-Chattanooga game being played at “Finley Stadium in Chattanooga” and the South Carolina game being played at “Memorial Stadium” in Columbia?

It’s right there on page 6.

Think about it.

Just a thought on a slow afternoon, worth what you paid for it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


“Highs… and Lows”

The 2003 season contains a number of “highs,” as well as several frustrating “lows.”

The Vols won impressively at Florida by 24-10, marked by a successful “Hail Mary” pass at the end of the first half. There were an overtime win against South Carolina and a 5-overtime win at Alabama.

Most Vol fans had inked the game at Miami as a loss even before the season started, but the Vols won 10-6, ending a long Miami winning streak at the now-defunct Orange Bowl.

The Vols ended the regular season with wins over Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, by a 127-28 margin, finishing 10-2.

The “lows” were a loss at Auburn, where the Vols kept rallying in the second half, only to fall 28-21. Equally low was a home loss to Georgia by 41-14, where the Vols looked to take the lead at the half, only to fumble near the goal and have the Bulldogs return the bobble for a touchdown. That was as dispiriting loss as had happened in recent memory.

The season ended on a low note, as Clemson beat the Vols 27-13 in the Peach Bowl, otherwise known as the “ACC Invitational,” after a nasty little pre-game skirmish on the field and some inspired play by the Tigers during the game.

True to the Bowden family tradition, the Tigers did score on a “gimmick” play, the old “huddle around the ball and pitch it to a running back before the defense got ready.”

The Vols were No. 6 in the nation (AP) going into the contest with Clemson and No. 15 coming out.

Talk about a fall from glory.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“Easy to Forget”

In 2002, the Vols had a six-overtime win over Arkansas that left fans and coaches alike breathless, wondering how they would recover for the next game.

Tennessee won 41-38 over the Hogs, but immediately lost three of the next four, to Georgia, Alabama, and Miami, with the Alabama and Miami games coming on the home grass.

Florida also won in Knoxville, in a game played between significant raindrops. Miami came in No. 1, and the Hurricanes left with a 26-3 victory.

The Vols had a three-game win streak down the stretch run of the season, with the season ending with a 35-17 win at Mississippi State and 24-0 victories over Kentucky and Vanderbilt, but, just when things were looking up, Maryland laid a 30-3 beating on the Vols in the Peach Bowl… and it wasn’t that close.

The Vols gave up 30 points or more four times in the campaign, 227 points overall.

The Vols began the season No. 4 in the polls and were unranked by the time Miami came to town.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“A Couple of Questions”

How many coaches in Tennessee football history came to Knoxville as head coach of a Tennessee opponent before taking the head job at Tennessee?

HINT: The coach(es) in question had to have been a head coach.

How many coaches have come home to Knoxville as a head coach after leaving Tennessee?

Think about those questions.

The answers may surprise you.

Monday, Aug. 25, 2014