The University of Tennessee dedicated Neyland stadium this day in 1962, along with a new west side upper deck and press box. Gen. Neyland had died in March, but had been kept up to date on construction details in his hospital room in New Orleans.
In regard to the fourth estate, Neyland had said, “We’re going to build the best press box in the country. We hope it will improve the quality of writing that’s done there.”
CBS had the telecast that October day, with Alabama spoiling the party, winning 27-7. The Vols were 0-4 in the conference after that game, having lost to Auburn, Mississippi State (with assistant coaches Ken Donahue and Johnny Majors, both former Vols, devising the State defense), and Georgia Tech, leading up to the Alabama game.
There had been cries to ditch Tennessee’s beloved single-wing, what with most high schools playing the “T” formation, but Wyatt stuck with what he had, despite the Vols losing East Tennessee quarterback products Steve Sloan (to Alabama) and Steve Spurrier (to Florida).
“Every team I know uses the single-wing,” Wyatt had told David Bloom of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “They just call it something else. We vary on the old style and we’re going to vary on it some more. But I’m not going to tell the world how. Would you?”
Wyatt was let go in June of 1963 after pushing a sportswriter into a swimming pool at the league meetings. Jim McDonald coached in 1963, before athletic director Bob Woodruff rolled the dice with a youthful Arkansas assistant coach named Doug Dickey. Dickey instituted the “T” formation and the Vols surged to the heights fans had deemed a divine right. Things haven’t been the same since.
It was one Saturday in October 1962, but the aftermath of that day, a loss to Alabama, led the Vols back to the Promised Land of college football.
That was 55 years ago, but things appear eerily similar in mid-October 2017.
The history of this era has yet to be written.
Friday, Oct. 20, 2017