Riding the rails with the Vols

By Tom Mattingly When Tennessee played at Georgia on Nov. 4, 1972, many Vol fans rode to the game on a special Southern Railways train from Atlanta, disembarking near the stadium’s east end zone. Tennessee won, 14-0, and the trip back in the late afternoon and early evening was truly enjoyable. Those Georgians who lived […]

‘Roll the scores’

By Tom Mattingly In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, there was one collegiate game on the tube each weekend, several emanating from Knoxville. ABC had the broadcast rights, and whatever game they chose, that’s what the nation saw, with a few exceptions for so-called “regional” games. (For example, when Notre Dame and Michigan […]

Two games in one

By Tom Mattingly Bowl games are fickle creatures, almost two games in one. One team might dominate for a half, and after intermission the other team comes back and makes a game out of it. The 1966 Gator Bowl, No. 22 in the bowl’s history, was such an affair. It was Tennessee versus Syracuse in […]

‘That’s what’s wrong with the world today’

By Tom Mattingly For those of us who traveled with the Vols over the years, Friday nights on the road were open for most of us, with Saturday’s evening events being scripted nearly to the last minute. Except the game, of course. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the trips was a […]

99-yard drives

By Tom Mattingly You could probably count the number of 99-yard touchdown drives in the history· of Tennessee football on one hand, but two of them came at Florida Field, in 1971 and 1977 (long before the days it was called the “Swamp” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium” or “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin […]

‘A number of twists and turns’

By Tom Mattingly In 1926, as former Vol fullback Dr. Andy Kozar has written, Capt. Robert R. Neyland had to “lock his jaw” with Dean Nathan Washington Dougherty and take on the baseball and track coaches to get enough players to hold spring practice. “You hired me to coach football,” he told members of the […]

Time heals all wounds

By Tom Mattingly The passage of time has a way of defusing nearly any controversy, particularly in athletics. Fans often look back at “hot button” athletic issues of the past, many times wondering what the fuss was about. At the time these controversies arose, they were “white-hot” issues that engendered passionate debate. Consider, for example, […]

‘The vestige of a long-ago day’

By Tom Mattingly There was a time from the 1950s into the 1970s, Knoxville News-Sentinel Sports Editor Tom Siler battled the University of Tennessee Athletic Department over kickoff times for Volunteer home football games. Siler had twice been president of the U.T. Alumni Association, offering him a valuable fans perspective about how hard it was […]

‘The ball doesn’t weigh that much’

By Tom Mattingly Reporters once asked Southern Cal head coach John McKay why he gave the ball to O. J. Simpson 25-30 times a game. His response: “He doesn’t belong to a union. Anyway, the ball doesn’t weigh that much.” The ball may not be heavy, as McKay noted, but the pigskin can get away […]

‘Hello, Everybody, I’m Lindsey Nelson’

By Tom Mattingly How did it happen that Lindsey Nelson, a product of Columbia, Tennessee, became one of the best sportscasters of his era? It was all very simple, with the humblest of humble beginnings, with Lindsey pulling out all the stops. He was totally committed to Bob Neyland’s axiom, “Play for and make the […]