“Steve DeLong”

Steve DeLong would have turned 72 today.

He was a distinguished Vol who wore No. 65, 1964 team captain, two-time All-America selection, Outland Trophy winner in 1964, member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He is one a small number of Vols who played for three coaches in as many years at Tennessee

He is Keith DeLong’s father, a 1988 All-America himself. He’s also Ken DeLong’s brother, a two-time All-SEC selection. The family has deep roots in Tennessee football.

He was the linchpin of one of the great defensive plays in Tennessee football, the fourth down stop inside the 1-yard line at LSU his senior season in 1964. That saved a 3-3 tie against the heavily favored Tigers.

Steve died Aug. 18, 2010.

Thanks for the memories, Steve.

Friday, July 3, 2015

“Tennessee Orange on Florida Field”

On their arrival at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the 1994 Gator Bowl (the real Gator Bowl venue was under renovation), Tennessee fans were treated to the sight of Tennessee’s trademark orange and white checkerboards in the north end zone.

The effect was surreal, something out of the old “Twilight Zone” television series. There were all kinds of Florida orange and blue “stuff” scattered around the stadium, but there was also Tennessee orange down on the field.

If that weren’t enough, as the designated “home team” for the game, Tennessee also used Florida’s dressing room.

As for the checkerboards in the end zone, former USC quarterback Pat Haden noted on the WTBS broadcast that Steve Spurrier had some thoughts about the trademark Vol squares being seen on the Florida greensward.

“I was talking to the groundskeeper before this game,” Haden said.

Haden mentioned the unnamed groundskeeper quoting Spurrier as follows: “I don’t mind it being in here for one game, but we have recruits coming in Jan. 13, and I want those checkerboards out of there.”

And, there is no doubt they were.

Very quickly.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

“Smokey Gray or Smoky Gray”

NOTE TO DUSTIN DOPIRAK AND THE KNS RELATIVE TO “SMOKEY GRAY”: When discussing the Mountain range east of Knoxville on the Tennessee-North Carolina state line it’s “Great Smoky Mountains,” not “Great Smokey Mountains.”

When discussing the University of Tennessee Bluetick Coonhound mascot, it’s “Smokey,” as in the famed history of the dog written by the Vol Historian and Earl C. Hudson.

When talking about a color palette, it’s “Smokey Gray,” named after the pooch, not after the “Smoky Mountains,” even though the “Smoky Mountains” might be a feature of the “Smokey Gray” helmets.

One further point on the color palette. “Primarily, White and Smokey should always be used to underscore the boldness of UT Orange, invoking a sense of the pairing of our institution’s vibrant momentum and respect for tradition.”

That is still true even though elements of tradition have been taking a beating in some quarters on campus.

This should clear the matter up completely.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

“The Crossville Comet”

Here’s a happy birthday wish to former Vol fullback Curt Watson, born this day in 1950.

Dubbed the “Crossville Comet” during his playing days, Curt was a load for opposing defenders.

A three-time All-SEC selection, his last carry as a Vol yielded the game-tying score against Arkansas in the 1971 Liberty Bowl. George Hunt’s extra point won the game 14-13. Joe Thompson made the key block on the corner to allow Curt to get to the Promised Land.

See winning score below at 1:27.10.

Curt was hurt that night, wearing a contraption rigged up by Mickey O’Brien to protect bruised ribs, but was ready to make the big play when needed.

Curt wore No. 31, and could he ever play the game.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

“ A Game-Ending Cheer”

Can we have one of those game-ending cheers?

Please.

Surely, there is someone out there with some creative spirit, spunk, and moxie who can add some spice to the games with a trademark cheer. Lord knows we need it.

NOTE: Singing “Rocky Top” over and over again does not count. Neither does “Rip ‘em up, tear ‘em up, give ‘em h— Tennessee.” That was actually a cheer back in the 1960s.

This should be a cheer used either during the game or whenever a game is over, en masse, as one, by the student body (and any other interested parties throughout the expanse of Gen. Bob’s stadium). Alabama does it very nicely.

Give us SOMETHING.

Please, again.

This whole idea is subject to a couple of critical provisos.

There would be enough students ready, willing, and able to learn the cheer and actually be a part of it at the games.

That would, however, require the cheerleaders to actually lead cheers.

Both provisos would require some significant effort, maybe more than anyone can deliver (or stand).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

“End of the Line”

The Vol Historian will be a guest on Tony Basilio’s show tomorrow morning at 11., 1040 a.m, on your radio dial, to discuss the end of the line for the Lady Vol logo, except, of course, for basketball.

Monday, June 29, 2015

“The Experts Speak”

Interesting and perceptively written story.

There were intriguing comments about the idea of transparency with one of the “experts” interviewed noting that, “While UT researched the idea of making the Power T the campus logo, a process that included polls and focus groups, there is no evidence that anything as elaborate was done to gauge the value of the Lady Vols brand or the attitudes of athletes, alumni and fans.”

Who say “process” isn’t important?

Wonder why this story appeared at this moment in time?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

“An Electric Atmosphere”

Before 1972, night games were not part of the Tennessee football experience. There were no lights at Shields-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium, and the Vols played sparingly under the lights on the road or in bowl games.

There were games under the lights at Florida and against Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl in 1971, at Memphis State in 1969, at Rice and against Auburn at Legion Field in 1968, against Oklahoma in the 1968 Orange Bowl, at UCLA in 1967, against Mississippi State in 1964 at Crump Stadium in Memphis, and the debut game under the lights at LSU in 1944. That’s nine night games in the first 77 years of recorded Tennessee history.

That all changed in 1972 when Tennessee and Penn State kicked off under the lights Sept. 16, in a rematch of the 1971 contest, won by Tennessee, 31-11. Tennessee was ranked No. 7, Penn State No. 6. Kickoff was 7:30 p.m.

The game was not on television and there was no ESPN, so precious few other than the 71,647 present for the history-making encounter remember exactly what it was like.

“It was just an electric situation,” Bill Battle said of the first encounter under the lights in Knoxville. “That’s the only way I can describe it. The players just looked faster and quicker.”

Tennessee won 28-21, as Condredge Holloway and Haskel Stanback made big play after big play

“This was a big game for us, but losing it doesn’t mean the end of our season,” Paterno told Glenn Sheely, sports editor of the Daily Collegian afterwards. “…Our kids came back from what could have been a disaster game. They showed their poise.”

He was right, the Nittany Lions reeled off 10 straight victories on their way to a Sugar Bowl matchup with Oklahoma. They finished 10-2 after losing to Oklahoma.

Battle praised his colleague across the field after the game.

“I was never a great Joe Paterno fan,” Bill said,” but I became one after the two games we played. After the game, he asked me if he could speak to our team.

‘After taking care of his team and the media, he came over and congratulated and shook hands with our players. His classiest line was, “I told the people in State College I was not leaving Knoxville without being in the winning dressing room, but I didn’t envision it being this way.’ Form that point on, I became a believer in Joe Paterno. He coaches the way it’s supposed to be done.”

As for night football, Vol fans have taken to the nocturnal contests with the same zeal they’ve always held for day games.

Saturday, June 27, 2105

P.S. Great story from John Adams here.

“Only a Name”

Here’s an interesting, if not intriguing, question, one that arrived as an epiphany this afternoon.

Given that Jimmy Cheek, a man tone deaf to tradition, has never shied away from a “tough decision,” you have to wonder what traditions would be safe should an obscenely amount of money be offered with the stipulation that the building or organization’s name in question be involved in the issue, most notably to be changed.

We’ve already seen him fold like a cheap suit in the Nike/Lady Vol (“One Tennessee”) issue, with the president of the university offering him full credit, whether he wanted it or not. With this in mind, what other Tennessee traditions might be in jeopardy to being seized by the monied interests and how would the fan base react?

“It’s only a name,” say those who, with a straight face, discuss disposing of the moniker “Lady Vols,” except for basketball, of course, because of the Chancellor’s apparently deep and abiding love for Pat Summitt.

Names are transitory, like Carolyn P. Brown (the erstwhile name of the Student Center, now a Student Union, like those on campuses up east, such as Bowdoin or Hofstra) or Theodore W. Glocker (the man for whom the Haslam Business Building) was initially named. They are now consigned to history.

Let’s see now.

What is the going rate for renaming Neyland Stadium?

… Thompson-Boling Arena?

… Ayres Hall?

… Mrs. Meek’s “Alma Mater”?

… “Rocky Top?”

… The “Pride of the Southland Marching Band?”

… the Dougherty Engineering Building?

… or The Thornton Center?

That’s just an initial list. Maybe street names on campus could be treated likewise.

Remember.

When somebody says it’s not the money, what is it?

It’s the money.

Just food for thought on a (nearly) rainy Friday evening.

Friday, June 26, 2015