2019 Tennessee Volunteers
|Athletic director||Phillip Fulmer|
|Head coach||Jeremy Pruitt|
|3rd year, 19–13–0 (.520 (through 2019 season))|
|Home stadium||Neyland Stadium|
|Stadium capacity||102,455  |
Largest crowd: 109,061 (Sept. 18, 2004 vs. Florida)
|Location||Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.|
|Division||SEC Eastern Division (1992–present)|
|All-time record||846–395–53 (.674 (through 2019 season))|
|Postseason bowl record||27–24–0 (.547 (through 2019 season))|
|Claimed national titles||6|
1938, 1940, 1950, 1951,1967, 1998
|Colors||Orange and White
|Fight song||Down the Field (Official) |
Rocky Top (Unofficial)
|Marching band||Pride of the Southland Band|
|Rivals||Alabama Crimson Tide|
South Carolina Gamecocks
The Tennessee Volunteers football team represents the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) in the sport of American football. The Volunteers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), playing their home games at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Volunteers (as of 2020) are currently coached by Jeremy Pruitt.
Having played their first season in 1891, the Vols have amassed a successful tradition for well over a century, with their combined record of 794-349-52 ranking them ninth on the list of all-time winningest major college programs as well as second on the list of winningest SEC programs. Their all-time ranking in bowl appearances is second (tied with the University of Texas) and sixth in all-time bowl victories. They boast six national titles in their history and their last national championship was in the 1998 college football season.
The Vols play at historic Neyland Stadium, where Tennessee has an all-time winning record of 426 games, the second-highest home-field total in college football history for any school in the nation at its current home venue. Only Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, which opened in 1913, eight years before the 1921 opening of Neyland, has hosted more victories (432) for its team. Additionally, its 102,455 seat capacity makes Neyland the nation's fourth largest stadium and largest below the Mason-Dixon Line.
On November 3, 2008, Head Coach Phillip Fulmer announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the end of the season after a winning total of 152 games at his alma mater, followed, four weeks later, by UT's November 30 announcement that Oakland Raiders former head coach Lane Kiffin had been selected as his replacement. Lane Kiffin then left the program on January 12, 2010 to become USC's head coach after less than 14 months on the job. On January 15, 2010, Derek Dooley was named as the Vols 22nd all-time head coach. Butch Jones cam after for the 2013 season and lead Tennessee to a 5-7 record.
Tennessee's football program began in 1891, but the program's first win did not come until the following season. On October 15, 1892 The football team defeated Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee by a score of 25–0. Tennessee competed in their first 5 seasons without a coach. In 1899, J. A. Pierce became the first head coach of the team. The team had several coaches with short tenures until Zora G. Clevenger took over in 1911. In 1914, Clevenger led the Vols to a dominant 9-0 season and their first championship, winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. The Vols would again field an undefeated squad in 1916 under coach John R. Bender, but consistency was elusive.
In 1921, Shields-Watkins field was built. The new home of the Vols was named after William S. Shields and his wife Alice Watkins Shields, the financial backers of the field. The field had bleachers that could seat 3,200 and had been used for baseball the prior year.
In 1922, the team began to wear orange jerseys for the first time after previously wearing black jerseys.
Neyland comes to Tennessee
Robert Neyland took over as head coach in 1926. At the time, Neyland was an Army Captain and an ROTC instructor at the school. Interestingly, in the 1929 season at least, his two assistant coaches (also ROTC instructors) out-ranked him. Former player Nathan Dougherty who had then become Dean of the school's engineering program and chairman of athletics made the standard clear: "Even the score with Vanderbilt."
Neyland quickly surpassed the Nashville school which had been dominating football in Tennessee. He also scored a surprise upset victory over heavily favored Alabama in 1928. Neyland captured the school's first Southern Conference title in 1927, in only his second year on the job. In 1929, Gene McEver became the football program's first ever All-American. He led the nation in scoring, and his 130 points still remains as the school record.
In the 1930s, Tennessee saw many more firsts. They played in the New York City Charity Game on December 5, 1931, the program's first ever bowl game. They scored a 13–0 victory over New York University, being led by Herman Hickman. Hickman's performance in the game caught the eye of Grantland Rice, and Hickman was added to Rice's All American team. Hickman would later play professionally in New York, for football's Brooklyn Dodgers. After the 1932 season, Tennessee joined the Southeastern Conference, setting the stage for years of new rivalries. Captain Neyland led the Vols to a 76–7–5 record from 1926 to 1934. After the 1934 season, Neyland was called into military service in Panama. Neyland's first stint with UT saw the Vols rattle off undefeated streaks of 33, 28 and 14 games, including five undefeated seasons (1927, 1928, 1929, 1931, and 1932).
Tennessee struggled to a losing record during Neyland's time in Panama. He returned to find a rebuilding project in 1936. In 1936 and 1937, the Vols won six games each season. However, in 1938, Neyland's Vols began one of the more impressive streaks in NCAA football history. Led by the likes of Tennessee's only three time All-American Bob Suffridge, the 1938 Tennessee Volunteers won the school's first National Championship and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl, the team's first major bowl, where they pounded fellow unbeaten Oklahoma by a score of 17-0. They outscored their opponents 283–16. The 1939 regular season was even more impressive. The 1939 team was the last NCAA team ever to hold their opponents scoreless for an entire regular season. Surprisingly, the Vols did not earn a national title that year despite being ranked #1 for most of the season, but did earn a trip to the famed Rose Bowl. The Vols were without the services of stud tailback George Cafego, who would finish fourth in the Heisman voting and be the top pick in the NFL draft, due to a knee injury. Cafego's backup was also injured. For a single-wing squad heavily dependent upon the tailback position, it proved to be too much for the Vols to overcome. In front of a crowd of over 90,000, Tennessee fell by a score of 14–0 to Southern California. That loss ended UT's streak of 17 straight shutout games and 71 consecutive shutout quarters, NCAA records to this day. The 1940 Vols put together a third consecutive undefeated regular season (Neyland's eighth such season with the Vols). That team earned a National title from two minor polls, and received the school's first bid to the Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Boston College. After the 1940 season, Neyland was again pressed into military service, this time for World War II. His successor, John Barnhill, did well in his absence, going 32-5-2 during the war years of 1941 to 1945. The Vols did not field a team in 1943 due to the war.
Neyland's final years
After World War II, Neyland retired from the military. He returned to Knoxville with the rank of General Officer and led the Vols to more success. From 1946 to 1952, Neyland's Vols had a record of 54–17–4. They won conference titles in 1946 and 1951, and National titles in 1950 and 1951. The 1950 season included what would prove to be the highest profile matchup between the South's two biggest coaching legends-General Neyland and Paul "Bear" Bryant, then at Kentucky. Both teams were ranked in the top ten. The Vols defeated Bryant, superstar quarterback Babe Parilli, and the Wildcats, 7-0. Bryant would never win a game against Neyland. The 1950 season culminated with a win against #2 Texas in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl Classic. The 1951 team featured Hank Lauricella, that season's Heisman Trophy runner up, and Doug Atkins, a future college football and Pro Football Hall of Fame performer. The Vols romped to a 10-0 regular season record (Neyland's ninth undefeated regular season) and the AP National Title. Neyland retired due to poor health in 1952 after taking the Vols to a 8-2-1 record, and took the position of athletic director. His final game was the 1953 Cotton Bowl against Texas, where Tennessee was shut out 0-16. The Vols would see spotty success for some 40 years after that, but it would be the late 1980s and 1990s before the Tennessee program had similar winning percentages.
Harvey Robinson had the tough task of replacing General Neyland, and only stuck around for two seasons. Following the 1954 season, Neyland fired Robinson and replaced him with Bowden Wyatt who had seen success at Wyoming and Arkansas. Neyland called the move "the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
Wyatt, who had been a hall of fame player for Neyland, struggled at Tennessee. He won more than 6 games only twice, in 1956 and 1957.
The 1956 squad won an SEC Championship, going 10–1 and finishing the season ranked #2. That year, UT won one of the greatest games in team history, a 6-0 victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta when both teams were ranked #2 and #3, respectively. It was voted the second best game in college football history by Sports Illustrated's 100th Anniversary of College Football issue (published in 1969). Tech was coached by former UT Hall of Fame quarterback, and revered Yellow Jacket coach, Bobby Dodd. In the final minutes of a legendary defensive struggle, UT was backed up just ahead of their own goal line, but star tailback and future head coach Johnny Majors took a direct snap and booted a roughly 70 yard punt deep into Yellow Jacket territory to seal the win. Majors would finish second in the Heisman voting that year; it was a controversial vote that resulted in the only time a player from a losing squad, Paul Hornung of 2-8 Notre Dame, won the trophy.
Despite two successful years, Wyatt's team never returned to a bowl game after the 1957 season. Assistant James McDonald took over for Wyatt in 1963, going 5–5.
On March 28, 1962, General Neyland died in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shields-Watkins Field was then presented with a new name: Neyland Stadium. The stadium was dedicated at the 1962 Alabama game, and by that time had expanded to 52,227 seats. Incidentally, Neyland had a hand in designing the expansion efforts for the stadium while he was athletic director. His plans were so forward looking that they were used for every expansion until 1996, when the stadium was expanded to 102,544 seats.
Dickey and his three Ts
Doug Dickey, who had been an assistant at Arkansas under Frank Broyles, replaced McDonald in 1964. Dickey was entrusted with rebuilding the program, and his six seasons at the school saw considerable change. Dickey scrapped the single wing formation and replaced it with the more modern T formationoffense, in which the quarterback takes the snap "under center." He also changed the helmets of the Vols, removing the numbers from the side and replacing them with a "T." His third change also remains today. Dickey worked with the Pride of the Southland Marching Band to create a unique pregame entrance for the football squad. The band would open a block T with its base at the locker room tunnel. The team would then run through the T to the sideline. The T was reoriented in the 1980s when the locker room was moved behind the north end zone, and the entrance remains a prized tradition of the football program. In addition to the "three T's", Dickey instituted the now universally recognized checkerboard endzone design.
Dickey had some success in his six seasons as a Vol. He led Tennessee to a 46–15–4 record and captured SEC titles in 1967 and 1969. That season, UT lost its season opening game to UCLA in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Bruin quarterback Gary Beban, who would win the Heisman trophy that year, scored the winning touchdown in the final minutes on a fourth-down scramble. The Vols would not lose again that season, winning the remaining 9 regular season games including handing Alabama its only loss of the year and snapping a 25 game unbeaten streak by the Tide. The 24-13 win in Birmingham landed the Vols on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was Dickey's biggest career win.
Following the 1969 season, Dickey left Tennessee to coach at his alma mater, the University of Florida. He would later return to Tennessee as the Athletic Director. Dickey was replaced by Bill Battle. Battle was a 28 year old coach from Alabama, and was the youngest head coach in the country at the time that he took over. Battle won at least 10 games in his first three seasons; however, he lost to Auburn in each of those seasons. Therefore, he did not win a conference title, and would not do so during his time as head coach.
Majors moves home
Johnny Majors won a national championship at Pittsburgh in 1976, but decided that the job at Tennessee was too good to pass up. Majors replaced Battle in 1977, on the heels of two five loss seasons. Majors would go on to lose his first game as head coach to the University of California, by a score of 27–17, in Knoxville. Majors struggled his first four seasons going 4–7, 5–5–1, 7–5, and 5–6. His teams saw mild success in 1981, going to the Garden State Bowl and going 8–4; and in 1983 winning the Citrus Bowl and going 9–3.
Majors' 1985 Volunteer squad (9–1–2, 5–1) was one of his most revered squads. The team lost only one game, regrouped after losing the services of Heisman trophy contending quarterback Tony Robinson for the season, and won the first conference title since 1969. The "Big Orange" earned a trip to the 1986 Sugar Bowl, where they defeated the heavily favored and 2nd ranked Miami Hurricanes, led by Jimmy Johnson, 35–7. The win kept Miami from a national title and earned the scrappy '85 UT squad the nickname "Sugar Vols."
Majors later led the Vols to a resurgence following their losing season in 1988. The 1988 Vols lost their first 6 games and went on to finish with a 5–6 record. The Vols followed that effort with back-to-back SEC titles in 1989 and 1990. The Vols played on a January 1 bowl game every season in the early 90's under Majors. However, in the Fall of 1992, Majors suffered heart problems. He missed the early part of the season. Interim coach Phillip Fulmer took over and scored upsets over Georgia and Florida. Majors returned and lost three straight conference games to Arkansas, Alabama, and South Carolina. The Alabama loss on the Third Saturday in October cut the deepest as the Vols had lost seven in a row to the Crimson Tide. The administration decided to make a change after the regular season. Majors was forced to resign and Fulmer took over before the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Fulmer and Manning
1994 saw a downturn in the record of the Vols, but events shaped the bright future of the program. Starting quarterback Jerry Colquitt suffered a season ending knee injury in the first series of the season against UCLA. Backup Todd Helton suffered a similar fate early in the fourth game of the year at Mississippi State requiring backups Brandon Stewart and Peyton Manning to take action. The following week freshman quarterback Peyton Manning would take over the controls and not let go until he departed to the NFL. Manning would be a 4-year starter for the Vols, and he led them to an 8–4 record in 1994. The next season, Manning led the Vols to a 41–14 win over Alabama, breaking the long winless streak. The only loss of the 1995 season was a 62–37 loss to Florida. The loss to the Gators was the 3rd in a row, and would prove to be the major hurdle between the Vols and the National title.
The Vols would put together 11–1, 10–2, and 11–2 seasons in the last three seasons with Manning as quarterback. Manning entered his senior season as a solid favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The trophy would eventually be awarded to Charles Woodson of Michigan. Manning did lead the Vols to an SEC title in 1997, before losing his final game to eventual National Champion Nebraska.
After three seasons with high expectations, the Vols faced a new task. Tennessee was expected to have a slight fall off after their conference championship the previous season. They lost QB Peyton Manning, WR's Marcus Nash and Andy McCullough, and LB Leonard Little to the NFL. Manning was the first pick overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. They were also coming off of a 42–17 loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and were in the midst of a 5 game losing streak to their rivals the Florida Gators.
However, the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers would prove to exceed all expectation. Led by new quarterback Tee Martin, All American linebacker Al Wilson, and Peerless Price, the Vols captured another National title and would win the first ever BCS Title game against Florida State. They finished the season 13–0, ending a remarkable run of 45–5 in 4 years. Those four seasons, the Vols were led by Fulmer, Offensive Coordinator David Cutcliffe and Defensive Coordinator John Chavis. Cutcliffe took over at Ole Miss as a head coach following the 1998 regular season.
Since 1998, the Vols have made three trips to the SEC Championship Game: 2001, 2004, and 2007. The 2001 team beat then head coach Steve Spurrier and Florida in the Swamp 34–32, moving them up to #2 in most polls and giving them a shot at the BCS title game in the Rose Bowl vs Miami. But they would lose to underdog #21 LSU in the SEC Championship Game. In 2005, the team suffered its first losing season since 1988, going 5–6, fielding a nationally-ranked defense but an anemic offense. Cutcliffe returned to the Vols as offensive coordinator before the 2006 season, which reunited the successful group of Fulmer, Chavis and Cutcliffe. Tennessee rebounded to go 9–3 in the 2006 regular season, losing two heartbreakers at home to Florida and LSU. This earned a spot in the 2007 Outback Bowl, where they lost to underdog Penn State, 20–10. The 2007 season was the first in team history in which the Volunteers allowed 40 or more points in more than one game (3 times). The Vol's defense did considerably better than expected with help from Seniors Xavier Mitchell, Antonio Reynolds, and Jerod Mayo, and also from Freshman Eric Berry. They would eventually win the SEC Eastern Division title and would go on to play eventual National Champion LSU Tigers. The Vols would lose to the Tigers 21-14. After the SEC Championship, the Vols were invited to play the University of Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2008.
On January 11, 2008, it was announced that Dave Clawson had been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Vols by head coach Phillip Fulmer. He replaced David Cutcliffe, who moved to Duke University as head coach.
Jonathan Crompton started at quarterback for the first four games of the 2008 season and went 1-3, after which he was replaced by sophomore Nick Stephens. B. J. Coleman is the third quarterback on the roster. Clawson's appointment introduced problems with the Volunteer's offense, leading to one of the worst performing offenses under then-Head Coach Phillip Fulmer's career. Clawson's offense was focused primarily on the short game (strong running and short-range passing) which was in large contrast to UT's quarterbacks who spent their high school careers primarily throwing the ball deep. The Vols posted a dismal 5-7 record in the 2008 season, resulting in Fulmer's ouster at the end of the season. The athletic department had to come up with $6 million to do Fulmer's total buyout, which would be paid in over 48 months in equal installments.
On December 1, 2008, Lane Kiffin, former head coach of the Oakland Raiders, was announced as the new head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. It was also reported that once the 2008 NFL regular season ended, Lane's father, Monte Kiffin, would join him in Knoxville. Monte would replace John Chavis as the Volunteers defensive coordinator.
On December 31, 2008, it was announced that former University of Mississippi head coach Ed Orgeron would become associate coach and defensive line coach as well as recruiting coordinator for the Vols. Jim Chaney was also announced as the Vols new offensive coordinator replacing Dave Clawson. Chaney was the tight ends coach for the NFL's St. Louis Rams, and was the offensive coordinator at Purdue University under Joe Tiller.
In Lane Kiffin's only year, the Vols finished the season 7-6. On February 5, 2009, Kiffin gained media attention by accusing Urban Meyer of NCAA recruiting violations at Florida. The Vols would play the Gators in the third game of the season as 30-point underdogs. UT was able to keep the game close, losing 23-13. In the sixth game of the season, the Vols played #2 Alabama. Terrence Cody blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play to give the Crimson Tide a 12-10 victory. Tennessee played #22 South Carolina the following game, which fell on Halloween night. They would win 31-13, giving Kiffin his first win over a ranked team at Tennessee. In this game, the Vols wore black and orange jerseys. It was another in a series of controversial decisions made by Kiffin; some UT alumni did not want the jerseys worn because doing so challenged tradition. However, an overwhelming majority of fans said they liked the new jerseys in a local poll.  Tennessee would finish the regular season 7-5, earning an invitation to the 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl against #11 Virginia Tech. They would lose to the Hokies 37-14.
For the 2009 season, UT paid $3,325,000 to all assistant football coaches, the highest combined salary among public schools. On January 12, 2010, after just one year at Tennessee, Kiffin left to accept the head coaching job at the University of Southern California after Pete Carroll was named head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
The Derek Dooley regime
On January 15, 2010, Derek Dooley was named the Volunteers' 22nd head coach, replacing Lane Kiffin. Expectations for the Vols entering 2010 were relatively low in part because of having a third head coach in two years, a young and lacking offensive line, and an unresolved QB issue just weeks before the season began. Junior QB Matt Simms, son of Pro Bowl and former Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms, was named starter for the Vols for the opener against Tennessee-Martin. After eight games the Vols were 2-6, including a heartbreaking loss at LSU which ended in controversy.
After Tennessee was soundly beaten by South Carolina 38-24 Dooley named true freshman QB Tyler Bray as starter for the next game against Memphis. The Vols found new life in their new QB in which Bray threw for 325 yards and 5 TDs. The Vols would make a remarkable stand throughout November going 4-0 to reach 6-6 overall and become bowl eligible. On December 30 the Vols faced North Carolina in the Music City Bowl which ended similarly to UT's previous game with LSU. A loophole in the rules (a lack of a late game 10-second runoff) gave the Tar Heels one more second in regulation in which they would kick a field goal to tie the game at 20-20 and send it into overtime. After both teams scored TDs in the first overtime, Bray would throw an interception on UT's first possession in the second overtime. UNC would cap it off by kicking the game-winning field goal to win the game 30-27. Overall the Vols and Dooley would finish 6-7. The aftermath of Tennessee's bowl loss to UNC resulted in the NCAA applying the same rule as the NFL when it comes to too many players on the field as time expires.
In 2011, the Vols escaped sanctions in connection to an earlier scandal involving Kiffin during his coaching tenure at Tennessee apart from minor sanctions they had imposed on themselves. Kiffin was also cleared by the NCAA. On November 18,2012 ,Dooley was fired after losing 41-18 to Vanderbilt, finishing 5-7 for the second consecutive season.
The Butch Jones era
On December 7, 2012, Butch Jones left Cincinnati to become to become head coach of the Vols. In his inaugural season at UT, Jones stressed the importance of rebuilding the football program itself, as well as the culture at Tennessee, and providing much-needed coaching stability for the Vols. Jones also reiterated the significance to the team, UT, and its legion of fans of leading the Volunteers to its first winning season since 2009 and getting and winning a postseason bowl berth for the first time since 2010 and 2007, respectively. Jones led the Vols to a 23-21 win over #11 South Carolina on November 19, 2013, on a last-second field goal by Michael Palardy, marking the first time the team won over a ranked opponent since 2009 and a team ranked in the top 15 since 2007 when the had beaten the then #15 Gamecocks 27-24. The team completed its fourth straight losing season with a 5-7 record.
Logos and uniforms
The Volunteers began wearing orange pants in 1977 under coach Johnny Majors. His successor, Phillip Fulmer, discarded the pants upon becoming Major's full-time replacement in 1993. The orange pants were worn three times under Fulmer: in the 1999 homecoming game vs. Memphis, the 2007 SEC Championship game vs. LSU, and the 2008 season opener at UCLA. Lane Kiffin wore the orange pants full-time on the road, except for the 2009 season finale vs. Kentucky, and selected home games.
In 2009, the Volunteers wore black jerseys with orange pants on Halloween night against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
- 2019 season
- 2018 season
- 2017 season
- 2016 season
- 2015 season
- 2014 season
- 2013 season
- 2012 season
- 2011 season
- 2010 season
- Arian Foster - Houston Texans RB
- Peyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts QB
- Jerod Mayo - New England Patriots LB
- Heyland Stadium HTML page. UTSports.com. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
- NCAA football records (Awards).pdf. FS.NCAA.org. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
- Fulmer agrees to step down
- Austin. "Dooley's focus on UT's future", Knoxville News Sentinel, January 15, 2010. Retrieved on January 16, 2010.
- "Richmond's Clawson named offensive coordinator at Tenn", USA Today, January 11, 2008. Retrieved on May 25, 2010.
- Low, Chris (October 1, 2008). Fulmer's buyout would be $6 million. ESPN.
- Drew Edwards & Dave Hooker (Knoxville News Sentinel). "Fulmer agrees to contract buyout at Tennessee", Commercial Appeal, November 3, 2008.
- "Poll: Did you like the black jerseys?".
- Rucker, Wes. "Vols continue search for new coaches", Chattanooga Times Free Press, Jan. 21, 2010.
- "Tennessee Selects Derek Dooley As 22nd Head Football Coach.", UTsports.com, January 15, 2010, http://www.utsports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/011510aaa.html