Posts Tagged ‘1982 World’s Fair’

Flashback: The Great Games — The All-Time Top 10

Flashback | Gate 21

Well, as Joel pointed out, the News Sentinel’s Dave Hooker recently came out with his Top 10 games in Tennessee football history. It is an interesting list, but (like Joel) I’m not so certain I agree with all of the games on Hooker's list.

Given the fact that I am still making my way through my "Great Games" series, it seems appropriate for me to chime in with my thoughts on this. At the risk of rendering some of my future posts in this series futile (not that they aren’t already), here is my top 10 games in Tennessee football history (with comparison to Dave Hooker’s ranking):

The Great Games |

Gate 21’s Top 10 All-Time


Tennessee Football Games

No. 10: 1989 - Tennessee vs. UCLA

The Rose Bowl | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

I know that some will question this one, but this game still stands out to me as one of the best. I toyed with ranking the 1985 Auburn win at No. 10, but I have to go with the Vols 1989 trip to Pasadena to take on the Bruins. This game was early in the season, and at that point UCLA was highly touted. Tennessee had been beaten in both their prior trips to the Rose Bowl to play the Bruins (1975 and 1967), and many thought they would repeat that trend as the Vols came off of their worst season in recent memory, and a close call in their season-opener versus Colorado State. The Vols, however, stepped-up to the challenge and proved that their 5 and 6 record for 1988 was only a bump in the road as they came out gunning for the No. 6-ranked Bruins. The Vols completely shutdown the UCLA offense with their own brand of SEC defense, en route to a 24 - 6 victory. That game set the stage for the rest of the season -- one which included 10 more wins and only a single loss. The Vols would go on to win an SEC Championship, beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl that year, and end with a No 5 ranking.

Still, by my mind, it all started in California...

No. 9: 1999 Fiesta Bowl - Florida State vs. Tennessee

Sun Devil Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 1

Dave Hooker had this game as No. 1, but I cannot in good conscience give it that distinction. While the 1999 Fiesta Bowl did give Tennessee its first Consensus National Championship since 1951, the game itself was not nearly as spectacular as others that season.

First of all, both Tennessee and Florida State played very sloppily throughout the game as a result of the more than 4-week layoff leading up to the contest. Second -- in fairness to Florida State -- they were playing with a back-up quarterback, Marcus Outzen, who (to my knowledge) never started another game after the championship, due to the injury to Chris Weinke.

Finally, the game was exciting, but probably only if you were a Tennessee or Florida State fan. The reason for this is that the two teams were extremely closely matched at most positions. All of that said, I have such amazing memories of this game and of finally seeing another championship for the Big Orange, that I have to include it in the Top 10, regardless of its flaws.

After all, a championship is a very special thing...

No. 8: 1939 - Alabama vs. Tennessee

Shields-Watkins Field | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

Obviously, I did not attend or watch this game. Still, the legendary status of this game lingers even today -- as does pretty much everything about the 1939 squad. I know this is hard to imagine in the modern era, but the 1939 squad not only went undefeated, but they also completed the entire regular season without being scored upon. Think about it this way, from the third game of the 1938 season until the conclusion of the 1939 season, Tennessee played 71 consecutive quarters without allowing a single point -- a record which stands to this day. The 1939 game against Alabama was but one of the legendary battles of this era between, then, Col. Robert Neyland’s (he would be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during World War II) Vols and the Crimson Tide. In the minds of some, however, this is the game that truly cemented the rivalry and led to the designation "The Third Saturday in October."

Led by Johnny Butler and George Cafego, Neyland’s Vols managed to out-run, out-block, and out-wit the Tide in a 21-0 victory. The "feather in the cap" for the day came on Johnny Butler’s 56-yard run to the endzone in the 2nd-quarter. This was the last Tennessee-Alabama game that Neyland would coach until his return from military service in 1947.

Johnny Butler's Run

Click to view a RealMedia clip of Johnny Butler’s Run versus Alabama Courtesy of the VIB
An Oldie, but a Goodie...

No. 8: 1992 - Florida vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

For all the reasons I described in my post on this game, I really feel this was an extremely important game in the history of the program. Ignoring all of the side issues surrounding this contest -- the Faxgate affair, Johnny Majors' heart problems, the deluge of water that fell during the game, etc., I really feel this was a watershed game (no pun intended). First of all, it was the first of real battles between Tennessee and Florida during the Steve Spurrier era. Second, it was the first conference home game ever coached by Phillip Fulmer.

By my mind, this is the game that ushered Tennessee football into the modern era, and set the stage for all of the excitement during the 1990’s.

No. 7: 1996 Comp USA Citrus Bowl - Tennessee vs. Ohio State

Citrus Bowl Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

Some might think this game an odd choice, but as I made clear in my article on this game, it really was one of the best games for Tennessee in the history of the program. Tennessee and Ohio State both came in ranked 4th (albeit in different polls) and both were disappointed that they did not manage to make it to a top-tier bowl. Both teams had a chip on their shoulder as they battled throughout a rain-soaked game. Tennessee held Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George to a season low, and fought to the end to win the day. This win, propelled Tennessee to a No. 3 final ranking -- putting them ahead of the Florida Gators who had given the Vols their only loss of the season.

This game established the momentum of the program for the seasons to follow. In my opinion, this game was a key step toward a national championship.

The Stop

No. 5: 1959 - LSU vs. Tennessee

Shields-Watkins Field | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 6

I agree with Dave Hooker that the win against Billy Cannon and the LSU Tigers ranks among the all-time greatest games. No one thought Tennessee really had a chance in that game, and -- on paper -- they were right. Billy Cannon was the man-beast running back of his day, and was fearsome for his ability to shred defenses. On most days, when the 1959 Tigers played they put on a clinic. The iron wall of orange-clad defenders , however, shut LSU down and did a little teaching of their own. After fumbling the ball on their own 2-yard line, and giving the Tigers an easy six points, the Vol defense found a way to save the game. Their goal-line stop as the Tigers tried for the 2-point conversion probably ranks as one of the all-time greatest defensive plays in Tennessee history (See stop-frame image, right).

Here’s former Voice of the Vols George Mooney with the call.


(click play to hear audio)

When it was all said-and-done, the Vols came out on top in a 14-13 thriller.

No. 4: 1982 - Alabama vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

bama82ticket[1]This game was the final step in Johnny Majors’ rehabilitation of the Tennessee program from the doldrums of the late 1970’s. Before that win, the Vols had not beaten Alabama in 11 deplorably long years. After more than a decade, Tennessee finally managed to beat the Tide in the 35-28 Victory. The fact that it occurred during the waning days of the 1982 World’s Fair made it all the more special. This also marked then end of the Bear Bryant era, at least as far as Tennessee was concerned, as Bryant would never again coach a game in Neyland Stadium -- passing away in 1983.


This game single-handedly returned Tennessee to its position as a year-in-year-out contender in the SEC, and re-asserted Tennessee’s tradition of winning.

Before this game, Tennessee was a second-tier team in the minds of most, that changed on "The Third Saturday in October," 1982.


No. 3: 1986 Sugar Bowl - Tennessee vs. Miami

Louisiana Superdome | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 5

Ahh, the Sugar Vols. No one thought the 1985-86 Tennessee squad really had a chance against the No. 2 ranked Miami Hurricanes. The Vols, however, decided to make everyone remember them as they pounded Vinny Testaverde and the Hurricanes on both sides of the ball. While this game was played in a neutral venue -- the Superdome -- it really amounted to being played in "Neyland Stadium South" as the Big Orange faithful traveled by the thousands to cheer on their underdog Vols. This game single handedly elevated Tennessee to a "national" status as Tennessee destroyed Miami 35-7, in the Big Easy.

Here’s John Ward calling "yet another" great play by Tennessee -- namely Chris White’s 4th-quarter interception for a touchdown.

[audio:/Sugar Vols 01.mp3]

(click play to hear audio)

ND 1991

No. 2: 1991 - Tennessee vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 7

There really isn’t much that needs to be said the game referred to simply as "The Miracle at South Bend." It still stands as the single most significant non-conference regular-season game the Vols ever played. While some would point to the victories over Penn State in 1971 and 1972, those were played in Neyland Stadium, which gave the Vols the huge benefit of a home crowd. In 1991, however, the Vols had to go on the road and play the No. 5 team in the country. The reality is that Tennessee was beaten in this game by the end of the first-half. The fact that the team and the coaching staff never gave up and kept fighting stands as a testament to the 1991 squad’s character. It still stands as the greatest comeback in Tennessee football history, and serves as a monument to Winston Churchill’s adage "Never, Never, Never Give Up!"

Furthermore, the final play of the game as called by John Ward stands as one of the greatest (albeit somewhat botched) calls of his storied career.

[audio:/ND-1991 01.mp3]

(click play to hear audio)
Don't you just love John Ward?

No. 1: 1998 - Florida vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 2

Having just written about this game (reliving it in my mind along with the voices in my head) I still come to the conclusion that there has never been a more exhilarating and exciting game played at Neyland Stadium -- at least not in the modern era. This game was an absolute defensive slugfest from start to finish, and after the game was over, I was physically and mentally exhausted -- I cannot imagine what the players felt like. While I do have the 1999 Fiesta Bowl listed in my Top 10 as well (No. 9) in my opinion this game was the high-water mark for the 1998 team. This was the game that defined the team and the season. Winning the game against Florida completely changed the mindset of everyone in Orange Nation -- suddenly we all believed that a championship was possible.

Thus, even though you don’t get a trophy for winning a home game during the regular season, in my opinion, this was the Vols’ finest hour.

Well, there’s my list. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong (as I so often am)...

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol

Images Courtesy of: The VIBKnoxville News Sentinel
Audio Clips Courtesy of: The Vol Network, Host Communications, and the University of Tennessee.
**Disclaimer and Notice: All Audio Clips remain the property of the licensing authority and their respective universities and/or institutions. Gate 21 makes no claim of ownership to these clips, and they are displayed on this website for the sole purpose of entertainment and social value. Any questions or concerns regarding the display of such audio should be directed to the administrator of this site.

Flashback 1982: “You’ve Got to Be There!”

Flashback | Gate 21

Continuing with my non-sports posts during the off-season, here's another little flashback ... to 1982.

1982 World's Fair Logo26 years ago this week, the Volunteer City was counting down to its big debut on the international stage -- the opening of the 1982 World's Fair.

Yeah baby, the World's Fair had arrived!

Ahh, Ronnie Reagan -- a man of few words...

Before it was all said and done, more than 11 million people would visit and -- for the briefest of periods -- Knoxville became known as more than simply "a drinking town with a football problem."

The fair was a success by most benchmarks. The Fair was profitable, albeit to the tune of a whopping $57.00. This was a rare feat for World's Fairs -- the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans actually declared bankruptcy before the that fair was even over. It was one of the highest attended Fairs in history. It also boasted having pavillions from some countries which were hardly best friends with the United States at the time (several of the participating countries were already on George W. Bush's nascent "List of Un-nice Weirdo Meanies" -- later to be known as the "Axis of Evil").

Here's a little more information about the World's Fair than you probably could ever want...

Man those are some snazzy graphics ... makes me wish I still had a Commodore 64...

I have limited memories of the actual Fair itself even though I did attend (I was 6 years old at the time, and still have my World's Fair Activity Book to prove it), but remember much of the pomp and fanfare that accompanied it -- such as the rockin' television ads which played all across the country.

So, just where exactly were they proposing to land the Space Shuttle -- on Kingston Pike?

There were so many things to see and do: talking robots, the first Petro's Stand (yum), the Imax Theater, have a swig of World's Fair Beer, and even watch some guy making ... Moonshine!!!

World's Fair Beer

1982 World\'s Fair Map

World's Fair Map -- Click to Enlarge

The World's Fair also included what was then the World's Largest Ferris Wheel, an NFL exhibition game, and near constant entertainment. The high water mark for the Fair -- or more importantly for Knoxville -- came on the Third Saturday in October, when less than two weeks before the Fair ended, Knoxville hosted not only visitors from around the world at the Fair, but also the Alabama vs. Tennessee game at Neyland Stadium. On that day -- 16 October 1982 -- it is estimated there were more people in the downtown area of Knoxville than at any other time in history. When the game ended, and the Tennessee Volunteers had defeated the No. 2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 35 - 28, the goalposts came down, and all hell broke loose. (See, I managed to get something in here about sports...)

Despite these successes, however, the momentum of the Fair ultimately flamed-out -- just like the Fair's Logo.

Actually, it would be more appropriate to say that the Fair, and the City of Knoxville, both abruptly hit a brick wall while travelling at the safe and prudent speed of 150 mph one day after the Fair ended. That was the day that FDIC agents marched past the Sunsphere, up Main Street, and through the front door of the United American Bank Building (now First Tennessee) for the sole purpose of commencing their audit of the bank's assets and uncovering the fraud that had been going on behind the scenes for several years. This would lead to "Stinky Jake" Butcher spending 10 years in prision, and precipitated the 4th largest bank failure in US history.

With that, all of the work, effort, planning, and money that had gone into ensuring the World's Fair helped Knoxville propel itself into the future pretty much up and vanished like the Tennessee offense under Col. Dandy Sanders.

Still, the subsequent bust aside, the Fair was Knoxville's moment in the sun (no pun intended).

Now -- more than a quarter century later -- some of the re-re-development intended to follow closely on the heels of the World's Fair is finally occurring. World's Fair Park now looks like something other than a gravel parking lot. The Convention Center has given people a reason to return to the downtown area. The Sunsphere (despite my claims to the contrary) has been shored up, and has re-opened for visitors. Most importantly, however, the City of Knoxville has finally acknowledged one important thing...

"Malfunction Junction" on I-40 was never a good idea ...

Huh-huh, watch 'er go BOOOM!!

Of course, it would have been nice if they had figured this out a little earlier, and made the process of improving the roads beyond the status quo ala' 1982, a little more gradually. I suppose a little progress is better than none, but apparently "Tennesssee Smart Fix" is the one perpetual legacy of the World's Fair.

TN Smart Fix Project Map

If anyone has any idea whatsoever exactly what the hell this map purports to show, please let me know...

God help us all when we face traffic this football season with half of the roads into downtown Knoxville closed. I guess we'll all just have to look up, pray for patience, ...

... and let the Sunsphere be our guide.

-- Go Figure …

Images Courtesy of: ExpoMuseum.com1982WorldsFair.comThemeParkBrochures.netKnoxville ChamberBabyBoomerBobCity of KnoxvilleKnoxville News SentinelTennessee Dept of Transportation

Engineers Say Sunsphere Must be Demolished

Breaking News...

26 years after its time as the focal point of the 1982 World's Fair, the final sunset approaches for one of Knoxville's most famous landmarks.

Knoxville Sunsphere

Speaking on terms of anonymity, officials with the Knox County Building Inspector's office confirmed late Monday that the results of a recent series of structural evaluations of the Sunsphere call for the immediate demolition of the Knoxville landmark. According to county officials, a private study was recently commissioned in light of escalating deterioration of the Sunsphere. The results of the evaluation by independent engineering firm Simpson, Smithers & Bart, determined that the aging structure is not only unsafe for habitation, but presents a "serious risk of structural failure in the foreseeable future." The engineering report, which is set to be released on Wednesday at a press conference scheduled by the mayor's office, cites serious structural fatigue in the primary support stantions, which have already caused the monument to lean approximately 7 degrees to the west.

While the report makes it clear that the Sunsphere is not an "imminent risk to public safety," due to a series of temporary reinforcements made during the the evaluation process, it goes on to note that the temporary reinforcements are only intended to prevent "systemic failure" prior to the the complete dismantling of the building. The report ultimately recommended that the structure be demolished "with all deliberate speed."

Apparently fearing a public safety crisis, the City of Knoxville has already directed all occupants of the Sunsphere to vacate within the next 48 hours, and has made arangements for the demolition to commence later this week. Regional demolition contractor D.H. Shoffner has confirmed its crews will begin work on the project as early as Thursday morning, and that, absent unforeseen circumstances, the 600 ton structure is set to be imploded on the morning of April 13. Due to the emergent nature of this project, it is currently expected to cost in excess of $4.1 million. Despite inquiries, the Mayor's office declined to comment.

As part of the analysis of the Sunsphere's condition, Simpson, Smithers & Bart developed a computerized model demonstrating the stresses on the structure, and a likely scenario for structural failure. Click video (or link) below to see their analysis.

Sunsphere Structural Analysis


Man, that is scary...

(April Fools)

-- Go Figure …

Images Courtesy of: The Sunsphere is not a Wig Shop & Sunsphere Knoxville
Support Gate 21
Search the Gate
Categorically Speaking…
As if you cared…

Some of the Best!

Support Gate 21


Some of Lawvol's Favorite Links from across the web!

Tennessee FanDome

Tennessee Fandome:
Football | Basketball
Our Humble Gate…
Subscribe to
Subscribe to Gate 21

Enter your email address to receive Gate 21 via email:

We will NEVER use your email address for ANY purpose.
Powered by FeedBurner


Awards & Nominations

2007 CFBA Nominee: Best Looking Blog
2007 CFBA Nominee: Best New Blog

Support Gate 21
Best Football Sites
Powered by MyPagerank.Net

Gate 21 Graphics

Like Gate 21? Gate 21 is free to read, but costs a great deal to publish. Feel free to donate securely via PayPal:
Search the Gate
Older Ramblings

Tennessee Videos

Lawvol's Funnies

Support Gate 21


Yardbarker Network