Posts Tagged ‘Bear Bryant’
Antabuse For Sale, Well, I spent most all of my day involved in a matter before the appellate courts here in my home state, thus I haven’t really had a chance to put anything of substance together for today.
My client—a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks and an alum of the University of Arkansas—however, passed a little something along to me which, though short, seems more than worth passing along. So, here you go:
How are maggots and the Alabama Crimson Tide similar?
They both can live off a dead Bear for twenty years…
Heh! But judging from this most recent photo, looks like both Alabama and the maggots may be looking for a little more food soon.
Yep, no prescription Antabuse online, Discount Antabuse, the Bear is looking a bit picked over…
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Of Course There's More Than Just Five...
As a current student at the beloved University of Tennessee, I guess I fit into that whole "new breed" of Tennessee fan. You know, the one that woos in Rocky Top (click here for all that) and hates Florida more than anything else.
While my hatred for the Gators is obviously high, I've gone and accepted the fact that the Vols just can't consistently ever beat Florida. I hate Georgia quite a bit as well thanks to my venture down to Athens my freshman year (2006). It's pretty much those three and a gap to everybody else, at least in terms of my SEC hatred. However, as I realized it's Alabama week and Tennessee's 0-for-2 against the aforementioned teams I hate, I came to this conclusion:
I really really hate Alabama the most.
To crush any hopes they have of an unbeaten season would be the highlight of this otherwise awful, painful football season. So, in an attempt to fire myself - as well as you, the faithful readers here at Gate 21 - up for Saturday night's showdown, here's my five major reasons I hate the Alabama Crimson Tide...
1. Alabama cheated/cheats and blames Phil Fulmer for it.
Obviously, cheaters never prosper. It's funny that Tide fans hate a man who was simply doing his civil duty. Not only that, but it wasn't like any other SEC coaches weren't behind Fulmer's turning in the cheating Tide to the NCAA.
Of course we all know well Alabama's history of cheating. It's hilarious to me that they get caught. Look, "helping out recruits" goes on plenty of places. Remember, it's only cheating if you get caught. It's much like speeding down I-40 between Knoxville and Memphis for me...
The outward excuse of the Tide fans for hating Fulmer is of course his part in turning them in. I think it's much deeper than that. I know Alabama's won two of three, but Fulmer has a great record against them. Either that or they deny that there was ever any cheating was done...[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="No, you do not"][/caption]
2. "Got Twelve?" t-shirts and Houndstooth apparel...
I actually saw some guy in TRECS - that's Tennessee's rec center for students (it's WAY nice) - with one of these on, which reminded me of this. It's so typical of an Alabama fan: it involves lying/cheating, since the Tide (a) haven't won 12 legitimate national titles and (b) it involves living in the past. In my lifetime, Alabama has been a middle-of-the-road SEC program, much like Tennessee is becoming, sadly enough.
I remember the Tide losing to Northern Illinois and Central Florida. I remember their 1997 loss to Tim Couch and Kentucky. I remember beating them 9 out of 10 years. One of my earliest Tennessee memories was the 1995 rout in Birmingham (below = owned). They've had something like seven different head coaches in my lifetime.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100" caption="It looks stupid..."][/caption]
The houndstooth crap goes right along with it. Houndstooth reminds Bammers of the Bear Bryant days, when they were relevant (I will state the obvious that they are becoming relevant again...crap). Hats, shirts, Bear Bryant hats - it makes me sick.
And of course there's those two Bammer fans with the toilet paper/Tide box on-a stick. I wish I was them, they are so incredibly cool...I hope I see one in Knoxville Saturday so I can laugh at them...
Flashback time. Third quarter, underdog Alabama has just scored thanks to a "catch" from D.J. Hall to take a 13-9 lead on Tennessee. Ensuing kickoff, LaMarcus Coker gets tackled along the far sideline from me, and doesn't get up. Turns out it was a knee injury that took him out of the game.
During the injury timeout while Coker is being tended to, the stadium is quiet as it usually is for injuries. That is, until the Bama fans start get their stupid "Rooollll Tide!" chant going. While a Tennessee player is hurt. That's class, folks. Hell, even the Georgia fans were quiet when Jason Allen was nearly cut in half by Leonard Pope the year before, and I don't know if I've actually ever met a classy UGA fan.
If you saw the game or were there, you of course remember the UT students' response: a loud, resounding, lengthy "F*** You Bama" chant that had to be heard on CBS. Tennessee went on to win that game, and I wasn't nice to any Bammers I saw afterwards - old people, women, adults, anybody.
4. 2005 and 2007
I've made two trips to Tuscaloosa in my life, for both of the past two Tennessee games. The 6-3 loss in 2005 was the one that really doomed the rest of the season in my opinion, since Tennessee did everything but win that game.
Cory Anderson's fumble happened in the end zone right in front of me. I thought it was six and bye-bye to Alabama's then-unbeaten record. Of course, shortly after that, Brodie Croyle - how he was still alive after the beating he took that day I'll never know - throws a prayer to Hall which sets up the game-winner.
As tough as that was, last year was worse. Here's why: the Firehouse Subs right by Bryant-Denny screwed my buddy out of his sandwich, making us nearly miss kickoff; the game was at freakin' 11:30 in the morning; our seats sucked; our coaches forgot how to coach; we lost 41-17.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="108" caption="There would be a book about it..."][/caption]
Unlike '05, you don't have to deal with the stupid Bammers when you leave with 10 minutes left in the game as opposed to right after a close one. The loss appeared completely catastrophic at the time, but even looking back it's still bad, especially after having been to Gainesville earlier that year for the 59-20 beating the Vols took...
5. And finally, as a result from Reason #4, that stupid Rammer Jammer chant.
It's still ringing in my head. For as stupid as Ole Miss' Hotty Toddy is, this Bammer chant sucks so much more. I heard it nonstop leaving BDS in 2005 and I could hear it during the long walk from the nosebleeds through the parking lot last year. If I have to hear this crap ring through Neyland Stadium late Saturday night, I'm going to become really belligerent.
Of course, I can't not post this YouTube video of this Alabama fan hating on Tennessee. I laugh every time I watch it, and I know it's old and cliche, but I feel compelled to post it, if, for no other reason, than the feelings are reciprocal...[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mor3ZBsKINI&[/youtube]
Well there you have it. There's of course plenty more reasons I hate the Crimson Tide (an Elephant? Seriously?). I hope Smokey bites another Tide player in warmups, as he did to Mike McCoy (who's still playing, actually) in 2006. I absolutely cannot wait to boo them Saturday night, and I hope and pray we miraculously dominate them.
Of course I'm leaving some out, so I encourage you the reader to leave some comments with your own reasons for hating Alabama.
Images Courtesy of: thecollegestore.com • Robert H. Spain / Bleacher Report • Barnes and Noble
As Joel over at RTT and Ghost at 3SIB both noted, UAB is -- well -- "special." Between the Blazers' apparent lack of a defense and their real inability to develop any offense, I really just don't know what to say about this game.
In the past this would be when I would post some slightly off-color doctored photograph poking fun at UAB for their slim chances at winning the game. I would probably pile on with a number of statements making fun of their coaches, players, fans cheerleaders, etc. I would generally be a prototypical haughty SEC fan.
After the UCLA game, however, I am going to refrain from being petty and take the high road...
By announcing that I have recently updated the Tennessee Home for the Visually Offensive to include more fine works of the Farkers' art..
Including some of these beauties:
When you have nothing intelligent to say, never fear resorting to low brow humor...
Images Courtesy of: SoonerFans.com • SmashSouthSports.com
Rivalries are the essence of college football.
Rivalries -- and I mean "real" rivalries, not just the "Oh, I really hope we beat Team X" sort of competition -- are what drives so much of the passion that comes with college football season and what compels so many of us to travel great distances, expend huge sums of money, lose sleep, risk personal injury, get arrested for disorderly conduct, and the like for the sole purpose of seeing our team play against our fiercest rival. It is the fire-in-the-belly that keeps us coming back for more. It is a question of pride, of respect, of tradition, and (sometimes) insanity.
The funny thing about rivalries is that they are not always two-way streets. That is, just because Kentucky Wildcats fans feel in their heart that the New England Patriots are their most intense and hated rival, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Patriots care about Kentucky at all (except to the extent that Bill Bellichick is willing to rent a helicopter and hire some off-duty FBI agents to tape the Kentucky practices, but that’s really nothing the slightest bit out of the ordinary).
My point is this: rivalries are special and they require ... the only word I can think of is "maintenance." As the old axiom goes, "there is a thin line between love and hate" -- they are opposite ends of the same consuming emotion. In our "real" lives -- independent of the sports world -- strong relationships or aversions require something to keep them going. Anyone who is married (or perhaps used to be) knows this is true. By the same token, for most people, the same is true for hateful relationships (the exception to this being people like Adolph Hitler, members of the KKK, and the like -- they simply enjoy hatred too much, which is why they have special condos reserved for them at the warmer end of Hell). For most of us, however, it is hard to continue truly despising someone, unless they give us a reason to do so. The fundamental point here is that, over time, both good and bad emotions cool and fade.
The same is true for college football rivalries. The peculiar thing is that, unlike personal relationships, a heaping helping of animus and acid can be a good thing when it comes to football. Thus, keeping the flames of animosity burning is very important. Thus, I pose a simple question:
What is the "state" of football rivalry at Tennessee?
As a general rule, I think that the core rivalries between Tennessee and others are healthy and hateful. Then again, precisely who is Tennessee’s biggest rival?
Throughout the history of the Tennessee Football program, rivalries have often been heated, but not always lasting. For orange-blooded fans who came of age at any time during the period spanning from the late 1950s up until the early 1990s, there really was little question about who the Vols’ most despised rival is and always will be. Falling within this era, it is easy for me to give rivalry a face...
I know the true colors of mine enemy, and he is as crimson as blood in the vein.
Yes, for me Tennessee’s greatest rival will always be the Alabama Crimson Tide -- there is no other rivalry in my mind which even comes close. It is a rivalry which spans decades -- beginning in the late 1930s and the era of General Neyland, flowing into the late 1950s and 60s and the emergence of the man known as "Bear," and continuing up to the present. To me, the truest rivalry for Tennessee is its blood-feud with the Tide. The Tennessee / Alabama series is Dixie’s great football war. To me, the most important game of the season will always be known not by its participants, but by its date...
...The Third Saturday in October.
This is what I have always known, this is what resonates with me. For some followers of the Big Orange, however, the face of rivalry takes on a decidedly different hue. Most notably, Vol fans who cemented their bonds in the 1990s -- in many instances -- consider not the Tide, but the Florida Gators to be the most fearsome rivalry for Tennessee. Given the course of SEC football history for the last 15 years or so, this is understandable.
Still others -- due to location, personal experience, perceived slights, the balance of power, where their ex-spouses went to school, how much they've had to drink, or whether it is a Tuesday -- consider other teams to be Tennessee’s greatest rival, such as the Georgia Bulldogs or the Memphis Tigers (which I simply don’t get).
Thus, I suppose it is fair to ask who is Tennessee’s greatest rival?
If you look at rivalries in terms of tradition and history, I really think it is hard to argue with the notion that Tennessee and Alabama have fought one another doggedly for a longer period of time than any of the other schools in the SEC. My blood still simmers at the thought that Alabama is one of only a handful of schools against whom Tennessee has an all-time losing record. In 89 contests since 1901, Tennessee is 38-44-7 all-time against the Tide. Even more bothersome for me were the two noteworthy streaks by Alabama during my lifetime: 1971-1981 and 1986-94. During those 20 seasons, Tennessee’s record against the Tide was an abysmal 0-19-1.
Statistics like that make you wake up at 3:00 am and retch your guts out -- therein lies the birth of rivalry.
Then, of course there are the Florida Gators. Surprisingly to some, Tennessee and Florida have only played 36 times in the schools’ collective histories. Tennessee clings to a lead in the series at 19-17-0. That statistic, however, is really a tale of two different eras. From 1916 until 1990, Tennessee was 14-6-0 versus the Gators, but from 1991 to the present, Tennessee is only 5-11-0. Those numbers speak volumes about the way that series has changed since the day a guy named Steve Spurrier walked into Gainesville and -- for the first time in the history of the University of Florida -- made the Gators respectable. From there it was a short way to making them winners. It is easy to understand why many modern fans of the Vols seethe with venom at the mention of the U of F.
Of course mere competition and loathing is not the only thing that goes into a rivalry -- there are a lot of other elements to a rivalry, including that little thing called "respect." Even though I consider Alabama and Florida to be Tennessee's two main rivals in the modern era, the "faces" of those rivalries in my eyes are decidedly different.
I hate to lose to Alabama. Hate it, hate it, hate it with a passion -- with all that I am, I hate to lose to those people. Man, do I hate it! I do not, however, hate Alabama -- I respect them. No, that does not mean I want Phil Fulmer to start emulating Nick Saban, or anything like that, but as a program -- taking all of the history, tradition, fans, and other intangibles into account -- I do respect the Crimson Tide. I have often described Tennessee’s rivalry with the Tide as a "classic" or "gentlemen’s" rivalry (and, no, that doesn’t mean that there are pole dancers involved). Speaking from my own experience, I would sum it up like this:
When it comes to the Tennessee / Alabama game, you pull like hell for your team in the stadium, and then you drink a beer with one another after it is over...
My point is that while the Vols and the Tide may declare war on the field -- for me -- it stays on the field. I can honestly say that any time Alabama is playing a non-conference opponent I pull for the Tide without reservation. The rivalry is one grounded in mutual respect (after all, I think Johnny Majors in his prime could drink just as much bourbon as the Bear -- which is pretty cool, if you ask me). I know there are those who will disagree with me on this, but that’s what the rivalry "feels" like to me.
When it comes to Florida, on the other hand, I cannot stand one single thing about that school, and having attended games in Gainesville on multiple occasions, I can honestly say that I’d rather have my intestines removed through my nose ... with a spoon ... than go back. That would be true regardless of whether Tennessee won the game or not. I am not going to use this article as a flame-fest and just talk about how much I hate Florida, and I’m trying very hard not to let my personal thoughts and bad experiences seep into this too much -- there’s no point or value in that. Thus, in the interest of avoiding a slanging match, I will use an example.
As many Tennessee fans can doubtless recall, on several occasions there have been instances where, Florida winning against another team (most notably Georgia) would help Tennessee in terms of the Vols' ranking in the SEC East. I remember being asked at the time, whether I would pull for Florida if it would help the Vols. My response to that question is as simple as it is heartfelt:
I hate Florida more than I love the Vols...
I will never pull for Florida under any circumstance, no matter how much it might hurt the Vols. Suffice it to say, based on my personal experience I have no respect for the Gators. Not a drop.
That is but one more reason Alabama ranks first in my book...
Thus, the team which I rank as Tennessee’s greatest rival is not the team I hate most -- which I suppose is inherently inconsistent. For me, however, a rivalry is something more than unabashed hatred -- though it does go a long way toward starting a rivalry. Ultimately, I feel that a true rivalry requires more. For me, that will always mean Alabama. Quite frankly, I don’t think Florida is worth elevating to that status (yep, that one’s gonna get me some hate mail).
Of course, another thing that must be considered if assessing these rivalries is what the rival thinks of Tennessee. For any rivalry to be maintained, the feelings of animosity must be mutual. Let me give you an example.
The reality is that most fans of the Vanderbilt Commodores probably consider the Vols to be their biggest rival. Tennessee and Vanderbilt are only about 3 hours apart, and they both call the same state home. It is easy for Vanderbilt to hate Tennessee. If you ask the average Vol fan, however, it is doubtful that Vanderbilt is anywhere near the top of their list of Tennessee’s rivals in terms of significance. While Vol fans tend to take Vanderbilt more seriously than they used to since Vanderbilt’s 2005 victory against the Vols -- snapping Tennessee’s 22-game win streak -- with an overall series record of 68-27-5 in Tennessee’s favor, it is doubtful most orange-clad faithful truly despise Vanderbilt. Having been present at Vanderbilt’s 2005 win, there were more than a few Vol fans (already disgusted with Tennessee’s performance that year) who openly congratulated Vanderbilt, or -- at a minimum -- admitted that the ’Dores were due.
Still, it wasn’t always that way...
From 1892 until 1927, Vanderbilt dominated Tennessee, compiling a record of 18-2-3 against the hapless Vols. The rivalry between the two schools was so great that, in 1925, when it came time to hire a new football coach, Robert Neyland was told that the only requirement of his employment was that he beat Vanderbilt. Keen on maintaining his livelihood, Neyland completely reshaped the dynamic of the Tennessee / Vanderbilt rivalry. Under Neyland, Tennessee began establishing itself as a winning program and embarked on an 82 year stretch during which Vanderbilt would win a grand total of 9 games in 77 tries. With that change, the rivalry rapidly faded into memory -- at least for Tennessee fans.
So do Alabama and Florida consider Tennessee to be a true rival?
While I am not going to purport to speak for the Tide or the Gators (and I freely invite any comments from those out there who might actually stumble upon this article) I would imagine that the Vols are definitely an "honorable mention" in terms of rivalry for each. Still, given the fact that both Alabama and Florida have fierce in-state rivalries with the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles respectively, I doubt that -- if polled -- a majority at either school would place Tennessee at the top of the heap in terms of rivalry. In fact, at some level, I question whether any school in the SEC other than Vanderbilt would dub Tennessee as their most hated rival. The one other possible candidate might be the Georgia Bulldogs who -- for the better part of my lifetime -- have seemed utterly unable to consistently find a way to beat Tennessee no matter how heavily skewed the odds are in the Bulldogs’ favor.
I suppose, in the end, Tennessee is everyone’s second most hated team...
Either way, however, I do hope that these rivalries continue to exist and grow in terms or their intensity and fervor. While "true" hatred (and by that I mean real hatred of real people along the lines of the whackos noted at the top of this article) is a terribly ugly and reprehensible thing, I believe that a little faux-hatred directed at another team (not its individual fans) can be a very healthy thing for the game of college football -- if for no other reason than to drive those competitive instincts into a fury. While I feel Tennessee’s rivalries with Alabama and Florida are in good shape at present -- at least in terms of their staying power -- it is always possible that they could fizzle out.
Of course, each fan of each team has the ability to define rivalry in their own terms. So too, changes in the game constantly reshape the landscape of college football, creating new affection, enmity, and apathy. Thus, it is impossible for me to say who Tennessee’s biggest rival will be in 10 years, 20 years, or beyond. I will not try to tell anyone what team they should despise.
I just hope that they find that one team ... and keep those fires stoked for years to come.
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):
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
(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)...
Images Courtesy of: The VIB • Knoxville News Sentinel
Audio Clips Courtesy of: The Vol Network, Host Communications, and the University of Tennessee.
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In case you haven’t noticed, with their win over the Butler Bulldogs, the Tennessee Volunteers recorded their 31st victory, further distancing themselves from the prior record of 26. This is a feat which, only a few years ago, would have seemed as laughable and unlikely as learning that Bear Bryant was secretly a transvestite with a love child by Johnny Majors. Now, the BasketVols have accomplished what seemed impossible: an SEC Championship and back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances ...... but it’s obvious that’s not the ultimate goal.
After the win over Butler (I’m still on round-the-clock EKG monitoring to ensure there wasn’t any permanent coronary damage), Coach Pearl discussed his maverick decision to change up his point guard -- giving J.P. Prince the starting nod -- for the first time during the NCAA Tournament with the media. Among other things, Pearl said:
The deal is this: I just thought that the point guard play we were getting wasn’t going to win a national championship. So, if we make the decision and it doesn’t pay off and I’m sitting here in front of you and explaining why I made that choice and we lost the game, I could go to bed going, it’s okay. I don’t think this is going to help us advance. Watching tonight gives us a better chance to win Thursday.
It’s not a panacea, but we got five guys out there with J.P. in that position. I was able to do some different things offensively. I was able to do some things that Butler hadn’t seen. And that was fun. Actually, it was fun.
Excuse me? Did I read that correctly? Did Bruce Pearl use the phrase “National Championship” in reference to the Tennessee Vols Men’s Basketball program?
I, as much as anyone else who has followed the BasketVols … well … ever, appreciate that this team is in uncharted waters in terms of success. This season, the Vols have completely rewritten almost every record for Tennessee basketball. It’s obvious, however, that this team -- and more importantly this coach -- are not satisfied with simply raising the bar a few notches over the Tennessee teams of the past (ala Jerry Green and his “What do you people want? We made the tournament!” mentality). Bruce Pearl wants to rip the bar completely off the wall.
Even I have been guilty of the “We’re better” mentality of judging the BasketVols’ successes in relative terms against how they compared to the performance of teams of the past. Bruce Pearl, however, -- without fanfare -- has completely changed and elevated the benchmark at the University of Tennessee to one where the BasketVols are now assessing themselves in “absolute” terms. No longer is the question “Are the Vols better than the teams of Wade Houston, Kevin O’Neill, Jerry Green, Buzz Peterson, Don DeVoe, and Ray Mears?” Now, the question is simple:Are the Vols better than EVERYONE? That is the mark of a true winner.
Along with this change on the part of the team and the coaching staff, the Orange Nation is changing its perspective as well. Gone are the days of hoping -- just hoping -- that the BasketVols will be competitive, and maybe win a big game every now and then. Heck, I remember in the 1994-95 season -- as Kevin O’Neill tried to pick up the pieces of the train wreck that was Wade Houston’s tenure -- just hoping we would win more than 5 games. Now, Tennessee fans expect to win every game.
All of this comes from Pearl and his in-your-face style of leadership. From the very first day he came on campus Pearl knew he had a big task ahead of him. All he asked of the Tennessee faithful (and to suffer through some of the seasons between 1988 and 2005 you had to be really faithful) was to give the BasketVols a chance, come to a game and let us try and win you over. To date, no one has been disappointed. Pearl now is dead-set to push the Vols to the next level of success.This speaks volumes on Bruce Pearl’s drive, dedication, and character.
I would welcome anyone in Orange Nation to name a single coach which has been more openly and enthusiastically embraced by the Tennessee fanbase than Bruce Pearl. The fact is, there isn’t one. I have never seen the notoriously fickle orange-clad fans so overwhelmingly support and fall in love with a coach like they have with Bruce Pearl. He is approaching the level of Peyton Manning in the minds of many people.
So let’s be honest, with that kind of support, Bruce could play his cards close to the vest -- publicly talk about how good the Vols are and his desire to win that mythical “next game” and nothing more. That would be easy -- keep the standard right where it is in the eyes of the fans, and win a whole lot, with the understanding that you won’t win them all. What that does is make it easy for a coach to meet the expectations of the backers, and be successful, but not raise the level of those expectations and invite the uncomfortable feeling that accompanies falling a bit short. I am willing to bet that, if Bruce Pearl could only win an average of 20 games a season and go to the tournament 6 or 7 years out of 10, he could stay at Tennessee until he is older than Joe Pa. That would be very easy, and that would be “safe” for Pearl.Bruce Pearl is not known for playing it safe ...
Rather than ride the wave and keep the expectations reasonable, Bruce Pearl is not only accepting an increase in expectations, he’s actively encouraging it. Forget just wanting to win the “next game” -- Pearl has drawn the line in the sand: he wants the whole shooting match. Bruce Pearl has acknowledged what all of the Tennessee faithful have been too afraid to say:We want the Championship!
Now, I know, that statistically speaking, the Vols probably have about a 50% chance of winning an NCAA Championship, maybe less than that. In all likelihood -- purely looking at probabilities -- the BasketVols will not win the title. Bruce Pearl, however, has acknowledged that it is out there, and Tennessee wants it. The only way you slay that dragon, is to know it. The only way you reach that pinnacle, is by claiming it as your own. You may fall short. You may not reach that goal. You may not make it all the way…... but, then again, you might. I, for one, firmly believe that if it is ever in the cards for Tennessee to claim that prize, Bruce Pearl is the one to take the team, the university and the fans there. Either way, Bruce Pearl has made it “absolutely” clear ... ... Come Hell or High Water, that’s where Tennessee is heading.
Quotes Courtesy of: UT Sports.com • Image Courtesy of: GoVolsXtra
The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. The more it bothered me, the more I felt convicted to come clean. The more I felt convicted to come clean, the more ashamed I felt.
Thus, here I am -- prostrate before the world -- preparing to come clean.
Everyone who knows me, know that I am a true Volunteer fan (except to the extent I actually hate Florida more than I love Tennessee ... but that's really just opposite side of the same coin). Hell, I even have this blog filled with all manner of orange and white, linked to every site I can find that even refers to Tennessee. I pay a truly ridiculous amount of money every year to the Athletic Department at Tennessee for the right to buy tickets, and then pay even more to actually purchase those tickets. Having bought those tickets I drive all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina to Knoxville, Tennessee -- about 6 1/2 Hours -- so I can walk through the real Gate 21 and watch the Vols play. I've done this for the entirety of my adult life. To everyone who sees me and knows me, I am a great model of what a Vols fan should be.
But I have a secret -- that is both sordid and detestable...
Though it pains me so, I must come clean to my fellow members of the Orange Nation, and I will bravely take what ever punishment they may mete out to me.
When I was but a young lad, in the seventh grade, I was assigned to write my first term paper. Like most seventh graders, I didn't even begin to think about writing this paper until about two days before it was due. I ended up being drug by my Mother to the library to find something to read and write about. I looked at books on sailboats, a few on the Civil War, a couple about the Queen of England, and one about animal husbandry. None of the topics appealed to me.
Then, out of nowhere, a light shown from the book shelf, and I found two books which would first lead me to realize that I liked to write, would first open my eyes to the real mysteries of football, and -- at the same time -- would fill my soul with dread and shame:
Bear Bryant, Football's Winning Coach
by E. Simpson Smith
The Legend of Bear Bryant
by Mickey Herskowitz
I read those two books a quickly as I could. As a result, I was able to write that first term paper, and I actually managed to get an "A". Still all I have is shame as I reflect back on that paper, entitled:
"Bear Bryant: The Greatest Football Coach of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow"
In that paper, misguided by my innocence and stupidity, I extolled the virtues, heroism, tenacity, and genius of Paul "Bear" Bryant. Of course, the books I read left out all the drinking, cheating, drinking, whoring, drinking, illegitimate children, drinking, lying, drinking, and cross-dressing that we all know to be part of the true Bear Bryant, but that matters little. There was never a greater act of hero worship turned in to Ms. Elliott and her Fifth Period English class.
For this, I am forever ashamed, and forlorn. Though Bear Bryant may have led me to a greater understanding of reading, writing, and of the English language (a comment rarely made about Bear for reasons which are fairly obvious) as a result of that dance with the devil, I am forever marked with that damned scarlet letter.
So, to my fellow Volunteer fans, on this the 25th anniversary of Bear Bryant's death, I ask for your forgiveness. I was led astray, and I have lived a lie. I will suffer the consequences of my actions, but I ask for mercy.
After all, if Johnny Majors hadn't lost so damn many games, maybe I could have found a friggin' book about him...
Image Courtesy of: Alibris and MoBuck.com
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