“The Throwback Jerseys”

No. 12 Tennessee pulled out the white jerseys with the orange collar for the Florida game 42 years ago tonight at what was then called Florida Field in Gainesville.

By SEC rule, Florida had the choice of jersey color and chose to wear the orange shirts.

Tennessee was left to wear what was called in later years the “throwback jerseys.”

Bill Battle, to his credit, voted against the plan (“You’re darn right I did,” he said when quizzed about it years later), thus defending the honor of the orange jersey.

The orange numbers were nearly invisible to the fans at the game that night, but somehow Tennessee won by 20-13.

The game was tied 13-13 and Florida had just booted the ball out of bounds inside the Vol 1. Battle came down the far sideline to the north end to protest the call. Flags flew and the Vols received the step-off, with the official picking up the ball and setting it down.

If there were ever a place to get a 15-yard penalty, this was it. You couldn’t have slipped a dollar bill between the ball and the goal line. It was that close.

Tennessee responded with a memorable drive that gave the Vols the lead and the game. The game-winner came on a 20-yard TD strike from Pierce to wide receiver Stan Trott. Vol defenders held the lead the rest of the way.

The Vols were 5-3 in the odd-looking shirts, winning at Florida and Kentucky in 1971, at Georgia and Vanderbilt in 1972, and at Kentucky, again, in 1973. The losses came at Alabama (1971 and 1973).

The uniforms were not seen again until Sept. 5, 2004, when someone decided they were enough of a tradition to be worn once more.

Wonder who that was and, with all due respect, what brought all this about?

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013