Wednesday, October 17, 2012


              "ONE WAY TO DAM THE TIDE"
                        TENNESSEE  24 ALABAMA 13

Birmingham, Alabama (HOUSEOFNEYLAND) On this day 45 years ago, October 17, 1967, the #6 college football team in the nation,the Alabama Crimson Tide, entertained the #7 TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS.

The year before, the VOLS just missed a last second field goal which would have brought victory, but ended up on the short end 10-11.*

*In the fall of 1966, I was a freshman at UT & was in the student section watching as Gary Wright's field goal was ruled "wide to the right".  From my vantage point, it looked good.  I remember leaving the stadium with one Alabama fan saying "We'll take them any way we can get them."

1967 was Coach Doug Dickey's 4th year at the helm.  Going in, he promised this year would be "special."

Note:  The VOLS would win the SEC TITLE & a share of the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

Despite that promise, the VOLS lost to UCLA in the opener & going into Birmingham, Dickey's quarterbacks Warren & Fulton were injured.

The VOLS turned to their inexperienced 3rd team signal-caller,  Bubba Wyche.

"When the VOLS & the TIDE squared off at Legion Field--BAMA in crimson & the VOLS in ORANGE--there was never a prettier sight.  It was football played the way everyone on both sides knew it was meant to be."*

Bubba Wyche said:

"I had a week of preparation, with the game plan & the strategies.  I don't think there's ever been a more exciting time."

The VOLS took the early lead 7-0 & by the time the 4th quarter was underway TENNESSEE still led 17-13.

Then the VOLS secondary took control with ALBERT DORSEY making 3 interceptions & returning the 3rd for a TD that ended the day's scoring & sealed a TENNESSEE victory over ALABAMA.

The VOLS made the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED dated Oct. 30, 1967 with the lead story by John Underwood titled "One Way to Dam the Tide."*

*Source: The University of Tennessee Football Vault, the History of the Tennessee Volunteers, by Tom Mattingly, Whitman Publishing Company, 2007.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


                 TENNESSEE 35, ALABAMA 28

Knoxville, Tennessee (HOUSEOFNEYLAND) Coach Bear Bryant owned the Tennessee Volunteers in winning 11 consecutive games from 1971 through 1981 & I experienced every one of them. 

That might explain my hatred of the Crimson Tide. 

But I also experienced the joy of the victory on this day 30 years ago, October 16, 1982, when the VOLS broke the streak & beat the Bear.

1982, of course, was the year of the WORLD'S FAIR held in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Knoxville was the place to be that fall.  

                                                                               1982 World's Fair
                                                                           Knoxville, Tennessee
                                                                     Photo by John White (1982)

I was in my 1st years of ushering at Neyland Stadium working in the EE-FF section of the East Upper Deck.

It didn't look so good in the 2nd half as the VOLS trailed 13 to 21 but then they fought back to take the lead 35-21 on a 35 yard touchdown run by CHUCK COLEMAN.

Still, the victory wasn't sure. There were so many times the VOLS had lost the lead against BAMA late in the game.

But this time, it was our turn.  

The TIDE was turned back, after cutting the VOLS lead to 35-28, with an interception by Tennessee's MIKE TERRY in the North end zone.

Coach Johnny Majors was carried out to the center of Shields-Watkins Field to get a much-deserved handshake from Bear Bryant.*

Coach Bryant, ever the gentleman, said:

"Johnny, you had a good game plan. Congratulations."**

*For any Bama fans who might read this post, while we do hate Alabama, we have great respect for your program & your legendary coach.

**Source: The University of Tennessee Football Vault: The History of the Tennessee Volunteers by Tom Mattingly, Whitman Publishing Company, 2007.  

                                                                      John White & Coach Majors
                                                                          Lindsey Nelson Stadium
                                                                        Alabama at Tennessee BB
                                                                      Knoxville, Tennessee (2012)

Monday, October 15, 2012



Knoxville, Tennessee (HouseOfNeyland) The University of Tennessee's mascot, "SMOKEY," was selected in a competition at halftime of the Mississippi State game in 1953.

In the competition, "BROOKS' BLUE SMOKEY" won because he "was the best howler."

Since that day, 9 BLUETICK coonhounds* have served as the VOLUNTEER mascot.

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, EARL HUDSON has been the caretaker of VOL "Smokies" since 1993.

Today his son & daughter-in-law, Charles & Cindy Hudson, care for SMOKEY IX.

SMOKEY IX is 9 years old.  He is still recovering, like some of the VOLS, from ACL surgery at UT's College of Veterinary Medicine.  He's back on the field but not at 100%.

Smokey's handler, Trey McAdams, says that despite the injury...

"...when (Smokey) puts the (orange & white) vest on, he knows who he becomes.  He kind of struts; I think he knows he's important."

When Earl Hudson was asked what it takes to make a good mascot, he answered:

"(His) turn (attitude).  That's his personality.  He's got to be calm.  He's got to have a good perception.  You can tell if a pup picks up things easy.  He's just got to have a good turn."*

*The News-Sentinel reports that Hudson's stories about Smokey have been published in a new book titled "Smokey: The True Stories behind the University of Tennessee's Beloved Mascot" by Tom Mattingly.

*Bluetick Coonhounds originated in Louisiana but were not recognized as a separate breed by the AKC until 2009.

They get their "blue" color from black & white mottling which gives the impression of a navy blue color.

Blueticks are bred to be hunting dogs.  They are athletic & need full time activity to stay happy.

They are intelligent & have a knack for problem-solving.**

**Could it be that we have wasted Smokey as a mascot?  Would we be better served to put him on our coaching staff?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


October 10, 1964


Knoxville, Tennessee (HouseOfNeyland) The University of Tennessee unveiled today a new look for the Home of the VOLS: checkerboard end zones.

This will be the 1st checkerboard end zones in collegiate football.

Checkerboard End Zone
                                                                         Neyland Stadium
                                                                      UT vs. Georgia State
                                                                       September 8, 2012
                                                                     Photo by John White

The idea came from Doug Dickey, new head coach of the VOLS.  Coach Dickey says he got the idea from a magazine advertisement.  He added that he thought the checkerboards would help "dress up" Neyland Stadium & Shields-Watkins Field.*

*In 1968, the checkerboards were removed when a new artificial turf was installed.  They reappeared, however, in 1989, when natural grass replaced the artificial turf.

The man responsible today for the process of painting the checkerboards is JOHNNY PAYNE.  He went to work for UT right out of high school in 1978.

The process requires 20 gallons of orange & white paint at $40 a gallon.  Total cost per game is $800 for the paint alone.**

**Source:  "Rocky Top's Picasso Paints His Masterpiece on Neyland End Zones," by Ron Higgins, ESPN College Football, October 12, 2007.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



Knoxville, Tennessee (HouseofNeyland) Hank Lauricella, All-American football player for General Robert R. Neyland at the University of Tennessee from 1949 through 1951, celebrates his 82nd birthday today.

Lauricella, who was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1951, was born in Harahan, Louisiana on October 9, 1930.

He was a star athlete at Holy Cross High School in New Orleans & his team won the 1947 city championship.  Because his team used the single-wing formation, Lauricella chose TENNESSEE.

Hank Lauricella's height was 5-10 & he weighed in at 169 pounds.

He played tailback on offense, safety on defense & also punted.  Because he did most of the rushing & passing at tailback in the single-wing, Hank Lauricella was dubbed "Mr. Everything!"

In his college career, Lauricella, who wore #27, ran for 13 touchdowns & passed for 16.  In 1951, his rushing average was 7.9 yards a carry.

In both his Junior & Senior years, he led the VOLUNTEERS in passing, rushing, total offense & punting.

In 1972, Hank Lauricella was elected to the Louisiana State Senate & served until 1996.  He was admitted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Monday, October 8, 2012


BOWDEN WYATT WINS 1ST GAME                  

Knoxville, Tennessee (HouseofNeyland) On this day 57 years ago, October 8, 1955, former Vol All-American, Bowden Wyatt, won his 1st game as TENNESSEE head football coach.

The game, played at Shields-Watkins Field versus the Chattanooga Moccasins, ended with a 13-0 win by the VOLS.

Bowden Wyatt, born in Kingston, Tennessee on November 4, 1917, played right end for the VOLS under Coach Neyland from 1936 through 1938.

Wyatt earned ALL-AMERICAN 1st team honors in 1938 on a team which outscored its opponents 283-16. Wyatt was UT's captain on that team.

Tom Siler tells this story of how Bowden met Coach Neyland:

"Wyatt was washing dishes to earn one meal & had a NYA job to pay for other meals & expenses.  This was in Depression days & times were tough...

'I went to Major Neyland & told him I was hungry,' says Wyatt. 'If you feed me, I'll make you a good football player,' is what I said & I meant it.'"

Bowden Wyatt was assistant coach at Mississippi State, the VOLS opponent this coming Saturday night, & then head coach at Wyoming & Arkansas before returning to Tennessee.

When Wyatt was hired as head football coach at UT, he said:

"I'm going back to the job I've always wanted."

Wyatt's 1st UT team finished 6-3-1, but in 1956 went undefeated, won an SEC championship & played in the Sugar Bowl.  Wyatt was also SEC & National Coach of the Year.

One of the greatest victories of Wyatt's coaching career was the win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta in 1956 over former UT great, Bobby Dodd. Going into the game Tech was ranked #2 & UT #3 in the nation.

In 1957, the record was 8-3 with a win in the Gator Bowl.

One of the few coaches to win championships in 3 conferences, Bowden Wyatt posted an overall record of 99-56-5.  He is also one of the few to win election to the HALL of FAME as both a coach & player.

Bowden Wyatt died at the age of 51 on January 21,  1969 & was laid to rest in Rockwood, Tennessee.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


                          Year One: 1926

General Robert R. Neyland went to work on September 16, 1926.  It was Labor Day as 32 Volunteers reported to practice.

Coach Neyland told the young men that practice every day would be organized & at full speed.

The length of each practice would be 2 hours 30 minutes.

Neyland hired William H. Britton & Paul Parker, both his teammates at Army, to be assistant coaches.

John Hoskins, described by Tom Siler as a "handman in overalls," was hired to care for the stadium & Shields Watkins Field.  He would remain on the job for 34 years.

Seventeen concrete rows of seats were added to the East Side, boosting stadium capacity to 6,800.

The 1st home game of 1926 & of the Neyland Era was against Carson-Newman on September 25.  The 1st TD was scored by the future mayor of Knoxville, Jimmy Elmore. The VOLS defeated C-N 13-0.

Coach Neyland completed his 1st season with an 8-1-0 record.  The only loss hurts so much to admit Vanderbilt.*

*Source:  TENNESSEE: Football's Greatest Dynasty, by Tom Siler, 1961.

1926 TENNESSEE Schedule & Results

Carson-Newman   13-0
North Carolina      34-0
Louisiana State      14-7
Maryville                   6-0
Centre                      30-7
Miss A&M                33-0
Sewanne                  12-0
Vanderbilt                3-20
Kentucky                  6-0

                                                                 Neyland Stadium
                                                             UT vs. Georgia State
                                                            View from NE corner
                                                       Photo by John White, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012


                 THE NEYLAND WAY
                   Coach Robert R. Neyland

The namesake of Neyland Stadium, Robert Reese Neyland, was born in Greenville, Texas on February 17, 1892.  He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1916, having been appointed by Congressman Sam Rayburn.

At West Point, Bob Neyland was a football, baseball & boxing star & after graduation served in the Corps of Engineers in France during WWI.

After the war, he was an aide to General MacArthur.

In 1925, Neyland came to the University of Tennessee & the following year, at the age of 32, was named head football coach of the Volunteers.  He was also hired as Athletic Director by Nathan Dougherty.

                                                     General Robert R. Neyland Statue
                                                                  by Blair Buswell
                                                                 Neyland Stadium
                                                              Knoxville, Tennessee
                                                        Photo by John White (2011)

Robert R. Neyland was head coach at Tennessee from 1926-1934, 1934-1940 & 1946-1952.  He compiled an astounding record of 173 wins, 31 losses & 12 ties....4 national championships & 5 SEC championships.

You will learn more about General Neyland in future posts on this blog, but for now we will comment on one of his best-known legacies, GAME MAXIMS.

The VOLS still recite these in the locker room before each game:

*The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.

*Play for & make the breaks & when one comes your way - SCORE.
*If at 1st the game-or the breaks--go against you, don't let up, put on more    steam.
*Protect our kickers, our QB, our lead & our ball game.
*Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut & slice, pursue & gang tackle...for this is the WINNING EDGE.
*Press the kicking game, there is where the breaks are made.
*Carry the fight to our opponent & keep it there for 60 minutes.

Knoxville News-Sentinel Sports Editor Tom Siler wrote:

"His players saw only the practical side.  The Volunteers, as players, never came to know the engineer, the soldier, the organizer, the student (of) classics & literature."

The fact is, General Neyland made the University of Tennessee a football had never been one.  He had been hired, however, with only this goal in mind, BEAT VANDERBILT.

According to Siler, the Commodores "had managed to keep Tennessee's football face in the mud for almost 35 years."

As the General's coaching career came to an end, Coach Neyland won 32 of his last 37 games.

As Tom Siler put it,

"The University of Tennessee will not see his like again."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


                   HOUSE OF NEYLAND
                          "Home of the Vols"

Neyland Stadium, "the Home of the Vols," is located on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

This blog will focus on the history of the stadium, the legacy of General Robert R. Neyland,  the Volunteer traditions, and the University of Tennessee football team past & present.

My name is John White.  I was born in Knoxville & have lived here my entire life.  I graduated from UT in 1970 & received my Master's degree from UT in 1974.

I began to usher UT football games in Neyland Stadium beginning in 1979 & have worked at the CC-DD portal in the East Upper Deck since 1983.

As many Volunteer fans say: "My blood runs orange!"

I am never so up than when TENNESSEE wins a football game (like this year's NC State game) or so down when we lose (like this year's Florida game).

The football home of the Volunteers was originally known as Shields-Watkins Field.  It was built in 1921 with the 1st game being played on September 24th of that year, UT vs. Emory & Henry.

In 1962, the stadium itself was named in honor of the legendary coach of the Vols, General Robert R. Neyland (knee-land), who "single-wingedly" made Tennessee a national football power.

After 16 expansions, Neyland Stadium is the 3rd largest in the nation & the largest in the South Eastern Conference.

Stadium capacity is currently 102,455.

My Dad took me to my 1st UT football game at Shields-Watkins Field when I was just 6 years old.  I followed the teams under Coach Bowden Wyatt as they went 10-1 in 1956 with Johnny Majors at tailback & 8-3 in 1957.

Unfortunately, in 1958 Tennessee had a losing season & had mediocre seasons in the early 1960s.

But the game I remember best was the UT victory over National Champion LSU on November 7, 1959.

I was with my Dad in the South end zone watching the VOLS pull the upset.  

In his book "TENNESSEE: Football's Greatest Dynasty,"  Tom Siler describes it as "A Day for Giant Killers."

LSU had not given up a TD in 40 consecutive quarters until the VOLS scored on Jim Cartwright's interception in the 3rd quarter.

With the score Tennessee 14, LSU 7, the Tigers scored a TD in the 4th Quarter.  Now the score was Tennessee 14, LSU 13 with the extra point to follow.

LSU coach Paul Dietzel made the decision to go for "2" & the win.  

The play was a run off tackle by Billy Cannon.  He was stopped 6 inches from the goal line by Charley Severance, Wayne Grubb & Billy Majors.  Final Score: TENNESSEE 14, LSU 13.

                                                                           "The Stop"

The try came in the North end, but even though I was 100+ yards away I could see clearly that Cannon didn't score. What a win!

We were hoping for a win like that this year at Georgia but just fell short.  The VOLS have another opportunity, much like the one in 1959, at Neyland on the 3rd Saturday in October when the Crimson Tide rolls into Knoxville.

Please come back for future posts on THE HOUSE OF NEYLAND. GO VOLS!!!