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 […]

On the Road… in White Jerseys

By Tom Mattingly In the days of Gen. Robert R. Neyland (and perhaps even before then), Tennessee wore its orange jerseys on the road. It was an article of faith. That notion came to an abrupt end with an SEC’s “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in early 1971, giving the home team the choice of taking the school-colored […]

Commemorating Shields-Watkins Field

By Tom Mattingly It was 99 years ago this past month, September 24, to be specific, that Tennessee played its first game in a new arena called “Shields-Watkins Field,” sometimes referred to in its early days as “Shields-Watkins Stadium” or “The Shields-Watkins Field.” Emory & Henry came to town to help christen the new stadium. […]

A Year of Comebacks

By Tom Mattingly It was a comeback to beat all comebacks in a season of comebacks and close games. Tennessee spotted archrival Vanderbilt a 28-3 lead in the second quarter in the 1987 regular season finale, as the Commodores scored on their first four possessions. Yet, somehow, someway, the Vols rallied to win, 38-36. It […]

Remembering Jimmy Streater, the ‘Sylva Streak’

By Tom Mattingly On Nov. 26, 1977, sophomore quarterback Jimmy Streater led the way in John Majors’ first SEC triumph, a 42-7 victory over Vanderbilt. He was pictured on p. 1 of the Sunday News-Sentinel sports section, with story sub-head that read, “Streater scores 3 TDs, passes for 1…” It closed out a 4-7 first […]