From 1925 to 1956 the Vols only had two losing seasons: in 1935 and 1954. In the eight seasons between 1957 and 1964, Tennessee had three losing seasons. For portions of three decades, Tennessee won three National Titles and six SEC Championships. Now heading into the 1965 season, Tennessee had a record of 42-35-4 mark for a .540 winning pct and one bowl (a 3-0 win over Texas A&M in Bear Bryant's last game as the Aggie head coach) since winning the SEC title in 1956.Tennessee defeated Texas A&M 3-0 in Bear Bryant's last game as Aggie coach in the 1957 Gator Bowl, the Vols' 11th bowl game in 20 years.UT wouldn't play in another bowl game until 1965
After posting an 8-3 mark with the bowl win in 1957, Tennessee didn't exactly hit rock bottom, the Vols just rarely showed signs they were the powerful program they had been over the prior generation. Unlike conference rivals Florida, Auburn and Alabama, who each posted a win less season from 1946-1955, the fewest wins the Vols had in a season was 4 during the stretch from '57 to '64. However, the most wins they had was only six which happened only twice in that stretch.
The slide was started in 1958 ,which may have been the nadir of Volunteer offensive football in the proverbial 'modern era'. The Vols opened the 1958 campaign in Birmingham against Auburn and lost 13-0. Losing to the defending 1957 National Champions, and even being shut-out in and of itself was one thing. But Tennessee failed to make even one first down in the entire game and finished the day with minus 11 total yards. The Vols were also shut out by Florida State, 10-0. These Seminoles weren't to be confused with the behemoth that emanates annually from Tallahassee. Florida State was just into its eleventh season of football and only its fifth season of playing 'major conference' football. Tennessee also lost to Chattanooga that season, 14-6, marking the Mocassins' second win ever over UT and first since 1905 as the Vols stumbled to a 4-6 mark. The Vols only scored 77 points the entire season,their fewest season total since 1910 when 50 were scored.
There were some highs,too. In 1959 Tennessee upset Auburn 3-0 to start the season ending Auburn's 24 game streak without a loss.The Vols also upset #1 and defending National Champion LSU 14-13 ending LSU's 19 game winning streak propelling Tennessee into the top 10 in the polls for the first time since 1956.But Tennessee then lost its last three games of the season to finish 5-4-1. Ole Miss pasted the Vols in Memphis 37-7 and the season ended with back to back shut out losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Part of the Vols' descent into mediocrity was due to the continued use of the famed Single Wing offense made famous by legendary coach Bob Neyland from his arrival on the Hill in 1926 and maintained by Bowden Wyatt, who did indeed go 10-0 and win the SEC in 1956.But more and more talented high schoolers , especially those whose talents were leaning more with offensive football , were seeing the Single Wing as outdated in the late 50's and early 1960's as the NFL was becoming more and more popular with its passing game. Potential high profile recruits who envisioned themselves as potential pro players felt UT's stagnant offense would hinder their pro prospects.
If there were ever such a thing as "the poster children" for the need for the Volunteers to scrap the Single Wing for a more modern "T" formation, there was no need to look any further than the Tennessee high school classes of 1962 and 1963. Tennesseans Steve Sloan from Cleveland's Bradley Central and Johnson City's Steve Spurrier of Science Hill High School were both highly recruited quarterbacks recruited by not only the Vols, but most every school in the country.But the Steves had made their mark as passing quarterbacks, not wingbacks.
Sloan and Spurrier were each All-State in basketball as well as All-State and All-American in football. Sloan never considered the Vols because of the single wing and narrowed his choices to Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and Alabama eventually choosing the Tide. The following season, Tennessee basketball coach Ray Mears recruited Spurrier for his basketball talents and of course talked to him about playing football for the Big Orange, too.Spurrier said he didn't like Bowden Wyatt's wingback (single wing) offense and UT would have to switch to more of a passing offense. When relayed this information, Wyatt informed Mears he wouldn't change his offense for anyone.Spurrier went on to the University of Florida. Science Hill High School's 1963 "Most Athletic", Steve Spurrier (right, #11) in Johnson City,TN wouldn't even consider Tennessee because of the Vols' Single Wing and chose Florida where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1966
The Vols' slide and ensuing mediocrity didn't go un-noticed. After a 6-2-2 mark in 1960 where the Vols entered November of that season 5-0-1 and in the top 10, Wyatt was forced to make staff changes.The Vols then went 6-4 in 1961 and 4-3 in SEC play that didn't please the Tennessee powers. After '61, UT President Andy Holt put Wyatt on "probation". In turn, the 1962 season was a disaster with Tennessee going 4-6 and a 2-6 SEC mark finishing 10th in the then 12 team league with the Vols' only wins over 11th place Vanderbilt and 12th place Tulane.
Tennessee football had a big time problem and big time problems wanting to fix it. Easing Wyatt out the door wouldn't be easy even though the administration and growing number of alumni and fans wanted change. Wyatt had not only led the Vols to glory in the 1956 season as a coach, but was a player on some of General Neyland's greatest Tennessee teams in the late 1930's and was named captain of the 1938 unbeaten, National Champions. During his playing days Neyland said of Wyatt,"Bowden Wyatt is the best-looking athlete Tennessee has had in a long time."Neyland admired Wyatt's determination, blocking and defensive play. Wyatt was indeed a big part of Tennessee football. Bowden Wyatt (l) and Bob Neyland (r) were and remain big names in Tennessee football. After Neyland's mandatory retirement at age 70 as Athletic Director of the Vols and subsequent death shortly after, the wheels were in motion for the ouster of his protege' after Tennessee began a swoon to mediocrity in 1958
After retiring as coach in 1952, Bob Neyland remained as Tennessee's athletic director, and of course, staunch supporter of Wyatt whom he hired away from Arkansas in 1955. But Neyland passed away at age 70 in the Spring of 1962. Wyatt's biggest supporter and defender was no longer there for him. Also whereas it was common at SEC schools for the football coach to also be athletic director, Wyatt was informed he was not a candidate for that position because he never graduated college. Following the 4-6 mark in '62, the whispers of Wyatt's drinking problem grew louder. Also, more and more administrators and fans were becoming more and more frustrated as Wyatt refused to budge from the Single Wing as high profile in-state players such as Sloan and Spurrier went to out of state rivals as well as other solid players turning the Vols down.
At the SEC Spring meetings in Ocala,Fl in May of 1963, Wyatt caused a couple of scenes that no one back in Knoxville could excuse and ultimately, defend. Wyatt was described as "acting in a bellicose and unruly manner during a session presided over by (SEC) commissioner Bernie Moore," which observers felt was caused by excessive drinking on Wyatt's part. Also, he shoved a sportswriter into the motel swimming pool. Tennessee had had enough and relieved him of his duties a month later.
Without having had an athletic director since February of 1962, Tennessee had announced earlier that they would announce an athletic director in June of 1963. But first they needed to appoint a football coach for 1963. One candidate was Bob Woodruff,who had been head coach at Baylor from '46-'49 and Florida from 1950-1959. He had also served as athletic director in Gainesville and was a Tennessee grad and former football player under Neyland who had played with Bowden Wyatt. The other candidate was Jim McDonald who had been part of Wyatt's staff at Tennessee since his arrival in 1955. On June 20,it was announced that Wyatt had indeed been dismissed after a month of speculation, Bob Woodruff would be named athletic director and McDonald would be named head football coach on an interim basis with a search to be conducted after the season of which McDonald would be considered for the full time position.
At first McDonald hinted that he would break away from the single wing and deploy more of a "T" formation. As the season got closer he conceded it was too close to the start of a new season to put in a new offense. The Vols went 5-5 and 3-5 in SEC play. The three conference wins were over Tulane,Kentucky and Vanderbilt who finished league play with zero combined wins. Whereas Neyland Stadium was nothing in size like it is now, it did seat over 51,000 which was impressive for that era.The Vols averaged a little over 30,000 in attendance in 1963.Something had to change if Tennessee was to return to its glory days established by Bob Neyland ,who ironically was devoted and mastered the single wing offense which was now stifling the Vol program.McDonald was dismissed the day after the season ending 14-0 win over Vandy and named assistant athletic director. Mallon Faircloth, Tennessee's last single wing 'quarterback' led the Vols to a 14-0 win over Vanderbilt in 1963 in the Vols' last game with the single wing. Knowing the NFL didn't want any single wing players, he attended law school and retired as a federal magistrate judge in Middle Georgia in 2008
Now that the single wing era had seemingly ended, Tennessee needed a new coach.After previously denying reports in the Knoxville papers, the Vols did indeed hire the man rumored to be the leading candidate, Arkansas assistant coach Doug Dickey.While only 31, Dickey received rave reviews from both UT athletic director Bob Woodruff and Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles. Dickey had played quarterback at Florida for Woodruff when he was head coach for the Gators during the 1951-1953 seasons.Woodruff said, "Doug was one of the most intelligent quarterbacks we ever had." Broyles was even more enthusiastic about Dickey. "If for any reason I left Arkansas, Doug is the man I would recommend to succeed me.I don't know of any other young coach who has better qualifications." Broyles had been assistant himself under Woodruff at Baylor following him to Florida in 1950 before returning to Georgia Tech where he had starred earlier.Both men recommended Dickey to the UT athletics board who in turn took the recommendation. Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles enthuisastically recommended Tennessee AD Bob Woodruff hire Razorback assistant Doug Dickey, who had played QB for Woodruff at Florida from 1951-1953. Dickey was one of 31 Broyles' assistants who went on to be a head coach in college or the NFL
As promised , Doug Dickey went about revamping UT's offense by scrapping the 'single wing' and putting in variation's of the "T" formation. Dickey said the Vols would utilize the 'slot-t', which was "similar to Alabama's offense." It was a good offense for a rebuilding team lacking offensive firepower as it 'shortened' the game somewhat making the opposing defenses play slow as the 11 offensive players were all in close proximity to the ball. Still, there were some Vol faithful who were in shock Tennessee wasn't running 'the General's' famed single wing as well as some thought the likable Jim McDonald should have been given more than one year's time to prove himself after such unusual circumstances put him in the head coach's position in the first place. Doug Dickey won over most,but not all Tennessee fans in 1964 by getting rid of the famed 'single wing' offense run by the Volunteers since the 1920's
While Tennessee was going through an offensive overhaul, Dickey did inherit some talent on the defensive side of the ball.The Vol defense was led by noseman Steve DeLong, the lone first team All-SEC selection Tennessee produced in 1963.Future All-SEC linebackers Tom Fisher and Frank Emanuel added even more talent to Dickey's defense.
As the 1964 season kicked off, Doug Dickey helped introduce some new 'traditions' for the Vols and Neyland Stadium in particular, that continue to this day. The Vols had worn white helmets with an orange stripe down the center for years. But in '64 Dickey introduced the "T" to the sides of the helmets. The size and fonts of the "T" have varied over the last 45 years, but the style is basically the same. Neyland Stadium also had the endzones painted in the orange and white 'checkerboard' style for the first time. This stayed in place until 1968 when the grass was replaced with Tartan Turf but was brought back in 1989.1964 was also the first year of the Tennessee team 'running through the T' where the Vols ran out of their locker room in the North End Zone and turned to the western sidelines.
Doug Dickey introduced the 'Power T' logo on the Vols' helmets in 1964 as well as orange and white checkerboard endzones (Neyland Stadium shown in 1966) and the running through the "T" formed by the 'Pride of the Southland Marching Band'
The Doug Dickey era started with a whimper as the Vols hung on to beat Chattanooga 10-6. One year earlier, the Vols smashed the Mocs 49-7. The 'slot-T' was going to take some time as UT only put togethor two decent drives and one of those ended in a turnover.Tennessee split its next four games losing to Auburn and Alabama around two wins over Mississippi State and Boston College.Tennessee's next two games were on the road against unbeaten teams in the top ten, LSU and Georgia Tech. The Vols stunned the 7th ranked Tigers in a 3-3 tie as several times in the fourth LSU missed relatively short field goals. The next time out in Atlanta, Tennessee shocked sixth ranked Georgia Tech, 22-14 behind two long interceptions of 84 and 69 yards returned for touchdowns. All of the sudden the Vols were 4-2-1 and being mentioned for a bowl game.
Up next were the Ole Miss Rebels who came to Knoxville for Homecoming. The Rebels were preseason #1 in 1964,but a series of injuries and close losses (including an 11-10 loss in Baton Rouge the prior week one week after UT left with a tie) had Ole Miss at 4-3-1. But the Rebels played like the #1 team and Tennessee played like a struggling program with a new coach as Ole Miss won 30-0 recovering three fumbles which led to scores and returning a blocked punt for a touchdown.The season ended with two more losses as Kentucky won 12-7 in Knoxville and Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 7-0 in Nashville as the Vols closed out the season 4-5-1.Doug Dickey makes the long walk back after congratulating Vanderbilt's Jack Green. The '64 Vols tied #7 LSU 3-3 on the road and upset #6 Georgia Tech, 22-14 on the road, but lost to the Commodores in Nashville, 7-0
Year one of the Dickey era had mixed reviews. The losing record wasn't unexpected, but McDonald did go .500 in his last year allowing the single wing crowd to maintain that offense wasn't the problem. Still, the Vols played hard and the defense was exceptional with senior Steve DeLong winning the Outland Trophy awarded to the nation's finest lineman. But Tennessee football wasn't based on 4-5-1, 5-5 records or even 6-4. Dickey had support but the faithful were eager to return to glory.
A change in rules for the 1965 came at a good time for a program hoping to revive its fortunes with a young team and new staff. After 12 years, and several changes off and on prior to that, the NCAA repealed "one-platoon" football and allowed for teams to form separate offensive and defensive units along with 'special teams' as well as an unlimited amount of player substitutions.This was great timing for the Vols. Even though DeLong had graduated, UT returned 9 starters from a defense that had played quite well in 1964. The offense, which finished dead last in total offense in 1964 could have its players devoted solely to offense. And,the new subsitution rules would allow for any necessary changes as Dickey wanted to start two sophomores in his backfield.Charley Fulton from Memphis was penciled in at quarterback and Walter Chadwick from Decatur,Ga would start at tailback. The Vols knew they could count on its defense led by Frank Emanuel and Tom Fisher, but were unsure if the youth movement on offense was quite ready .
First up in 1965 were the Army Black Knights at Neyland Stadium. It was the season opener for the Army,too, as they opened the season on the road for the first time in 76 years.Coaching the Army would be Paul Dietzel, who last visited Knoxville in 1959 as the head coach of #1 LSU and came away with a controversial 14-13 loss to the Vols which would deny the Tigers a shot at consectutive national titles.That win over LSU had been the beacon of light for Tennessee since the 1956 SEC Championship season.
Army's first season opening road game in 76 years also marked Head Coach Paul Dietzel's first trip to Neyland Stadium since UT stopped Dietzel's #1 LSU Tigers and Heisman winner Billy Cannon at the goal line on a two pt play in Tennessee's 14-13 win in 1959
Tennessee started the 1965 season off in fine fashion with a 21-0 win over Army. The Vols took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards with Fulton firing a touchdown on his first collegiate pass. Fulton hit last year's lone offensive star, Hal Wantland, for a 23 yard pass just five minutes into the game.The win showed that Dickey's plan was starting to work. Tennessee's offense still struggled while the defense and special teams played well the entire game.The Vols' points all came off big plays. Fulton's pass to Wantland was set up by a 45 yard run by Stan Mitchell on the fourth play of the game. Fulton hit fellow sophomore Austin Denney on a 53 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and UT finished their scoring with Jerry Smith returning a punt 66 yards for the score. Tennessee recorded only 5 first downs and 166 total yards, but they won and made the most out of their offensive struggles.1965 captain Hal Wantland who had been recruited to run the Single Wing, caught Charles Fulton's first college pass for a 23 yd td vs Army
Army had chances to score missing two field goals and turning the ball over three times inside the Tennessee 20, twice on fumbles and once on an interception.All of the threats came in the first half as the Vols limited the Army to very little in the second half.
Game two was also at home and was the conference opener vs Auburn. Tennessee and Auburn played each other a mere 7 times from their first meeting in 1900 through 1939. But the two became yearly foes in 1956 and played each other each season through the 1991 season as the series became a casualty to conference realignment and division play.It was one of the best games in the SEC year in and year out. Going into the 1965 game, Auburn had won 6 of the nine games played since the renewal in 1956. But oddly enough, Tennessee had outscored the Tigers, 109-102. Other than UT's 35-7 win in '56, the games were extremely close.
1965 was no exception as the two battled to a 13-13 tie with Auburn scoring with under two minutes remaining in a ragged game. Tennessee's Fulton scored on touchdown runs of 6 and 13 both set up after Auburn turnovers. Fulton turned the ball over himself in the Vol 4 and Auburn QB Tom Bryan scored from the one. Auburn's extra point failed and UT led 7-6 at halftime. David Leake, who made all three extra points vs Army and one after Fulton's first touchdown, missed the conversion in the third after Fulton's run from the 13 as UT took a 13-6 lead into the fourth quarter. But with 2:20 in the game, Bryan hit fullback Hank Hall for a three yard touchdown . Appearing to go for two and the win, Auburn was hit with a delay penalty and this time kicker Ben McDavid was true and the game ended shortly in a 13-13 tie. Once again the UT offense struggled with only 135 total yards and 6 of 11 passes completed with two interceptions.
David Leake, who also played end, redeemed himself in game 3 as the Vols rolled to a 24-3 win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks were still a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but with the departure of Georgia Tech from the SEC in 1963, this game was designated as an 'appointed conference game' by then SEC Commissioner Bernie Moore as each conference member had to play at least six conference games. The practice of 'appointed conference games' stayed in place through the 1968 season. Oddly enough, Tennessee did indeed play Georgia Tech later that season, but that game wasn't the designated conference game. Ironically it was the inclusion of South Carolina (along with Arkansas) in 1992 as a member of the SEC which predicated Tennessee ceasing its yearly rivalry with Auburn so it could play 5 teams from the newly formed Eastern Division which included the Gamecocks.
Leake kicked a 44 yard field goal to start the scoring as the Vols started out slowly on offense. The Vols were given great scoring opportunities inside the SC 30 off of a poor South Carolina punt and then a fumble, but could only manage the field goal Heralded Walter Chadwick who missed the Auburn game with an injury scored on a five yard run to extend the lead to 10-0 . Marvin Bass' Gamecocks kicked a field goal to cut it to 10-3 at intermission. The Vols started clicking with another Chadwick touchdown run and closed out the scoring with Leake's 25 yard pass reception from Fulton for the final 24-3 mark. Tennessee racked up nearly 300 total yards with 222 rushing. This would be Bass' final year in Columbia being replaced by Army's Paul Dietzel. Bass ,who was a respected technician in football circles returned to the assistant ranks before becoming the Birmingham Vulcans of the short lived World Football League in 1975, which folded midway in that season.
South Carolina coach Marvin Bass was dismissed after the 1965 season. His next head coaching job was with Birmingham of the WFL in 1975, shown with former Alabama All-American and Vulcans running back, Johnny Musso
The next game happened to be on the third Saturday in October. The Alabama Crimson Tide, the Vols' biggest rival. This would be a big game ,at least for these two regardless of records, but in 1965 Tennessee was brimming with optimism after several years of mediocrity. Alabama, the 1964 National Champion, was dealing with frustration hoping to right itself vs Tennessee. The Tide lost its first game of the season in Athens to Georgia 18-17 when the Bulldogs rambled 76 yards on a controversial lateral that Alabama felt should have been blown dead.After an easy 27-0 win over Tulane in Mobile in the Green Wave's final season as an SEC member, the Tide had struggled in a 17-16 win over Ole Miss and trailed lowly Vanderbilt 7-0 in the third quarter before pulling away in Nashville, 22-7 with the help of some Commodore turnovers. The Tide's defense had played well but the offense had sputtered. Cleveland native Steve Sloan had a shoulder injury and sophomore Kenny Stabler looked to get some snaps. Bear Bryant knew the UT game would let him know where his team really stood.
Tennessee had not beaten Alabama since a 20-7 win in 1960 in Bryant's third year in Tuscaloosa. Remarkably, that thirteen point margin was the worst loss Alabama had suffered under Bryant and would remain that way until the 1968 Gator Bowl. The Vols had not won in Birmingham vs the Tide since 1957. Well, in 1965 Tennessee didn't win in Birmingham, but they didn't lose,either. Rugged defense, punting and bizarre miscues by the Tide allowed Tennessee to sneak out of Legion Field with a stunning 7-7 tie.
The Vols took the lead midway in the second quarter after a 68 yard march led by Fulton and the score came when FB Stan Mitchell dove over from the one. Leake's conversion made it 7-0.The Tide had had a field goal blocked earlier, but made the most of their final possession of the first half. Excellent clock managment enabled Alabama to run two running plays in the final six seconds of the first half culminating in Steve Sloan's one yard run with the extra point making it 7-7 at halftime.
Tennessee did very little offensively in the second half as the Vols managed 10 first downs and 195 total yards. Alabama moved the ball repeatedly deep into Tennessee territory throughout the second half. The Tide marched 62 yards to the Tennessee one on its first possession of the second half as Sloan fumbled into the endzone for a touchback.After missing a 35 yard field goal, Alabama then went 78 yards mainly on Sloan's passing to the Tennessee two where Sloan fumbled again.The worst Alabama turnover was yet to come,however.
After being unable to move the ball again, Tennessee punter Jackie Cotton boomed a 58 yard punt to the Alabama 35 with 3:33 left in the game. Three Sloan passes later, Alabama had a first and goal at the Tennessee 10 yard line with 1:19 left.After a two yard gain on first down, Sloan's pitchout to Dennis Homan went astray and Sloan covered it up back on the 18 with :34 left. Bryant then sent in sophomore Kenny Stabler for Sloan. Stabler was more of a running quarterback at the time than Sloan. Bryant also sent in kicker David Ray with his kicking tee to attempt a field goal if the Tide didn't manage a touchdown on third down. From the 18, Stabler scrambled and ran down to the Tennessee four yard line. With the clock about to run out and a lack of communication from the sidelines, Stabler, thinking his 14 yard run had gotten a first down fired the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. The clock stopped, but Stabler's pass came on fourth down and the ball went over to the Big Orange. Fulton knelt down and UT had stolen off with a 7-7 tie.Kenny Stabler (12) had an All-SEC and All-American career at Alabama in 1967. But its an incomplete pass he's remember for in the 1965 Tennessee game and not his 82 yards rushing
For defending national champion Alabama, this mood was like a defeat. For Tennessee bowl-less since '57 and winless vs Alabama since 1960, it was more like a win.The Vols ,now 2-0-2, would enter the polls ranked #14 in the UPI poll.
Sadly, two days later on Monday, October 18th, all of Saturday's laughter turned to sorrow.Offensive line and kicking coach Charlie Rash had just picked up end coach Bob Jones from his west Knoxville apartment and defensive back coach Bill Majors from his near-by rental home. En route to the UT campus and coaches' offices, the Volkswagon Beetle they were traveling in collided with a Southern Railway train headed towards downtown Knoxville.The right rear of the VW was smashed, sending it 96 feet down the track. The train, which was traveling at a high rate of speed but had set its air breaks after seeing the car, traveld nearly a mile after the collison before stopping.Two days after the exciting 7-7 tie with Alabama, Bill Majors, 25, Bob Jones ,30 and Charlie Rash, 28 were all killed when Rash's vehicle collided with a train in Knoxville
This was the second tragedy resulting in death involving Tennessee assistant coaches in a year and a half. In February of 1964, basketball assistant Bill Gibbs was one of ten people killed in a fiery plane crash in Gaineville, Fl. Gibbs was a rising star in hoops ranks and had filled in for head coach Ray Mears when Mears was ill during the 1962-1963 season. He had just scouted the Kentucky-Florida game for UT and was headed to scout UT's next opponent, Auburn, when the twin-engine Beechcraft stalled just 200 feet after takeoff and crashed on the runway.
News of the coaches' crash spread quickly through the UT campus and Knoxville. UT president Andy Holt and coach Dickey all went to visit the wives and sons of the victims. Fellow assistant and former Vol standout George Cafego, who was light-heartedly nicknamed "Bad News" in his playing days, unfortunately did have to deliver the bad news to Bill Majors' father, Sewanee coach Shirley and brother, Johnny who was then an assistant at Arkansas.
Practice was cancelled that day and there was talk about postponing the upcoming game vs Houston.A number of players gathered at the hospital to keep vigil on Coach Rash's behalf until the coaches encouraged them to go back to the dorm.
A service was held the following day at Church Street United Methodist Church in downtown Knoxville near the campus. The entire football team attended donning orange blazers adding a touching moment to an already moving environment.
The Houston game would go on as scheduled adding to an already whirlwind week for Dickey as he helped with the out of town burial services. The staff did have to realign itself. Jim McDonald, whom Dickey replaced, came back from administration and additional duties were given to the remaining coaches. Gil Brandt, the director of personnel for the NFL's Cowboys, informed athletic director Bob Woodruff that two of his scouts, Bill Meek and Harvey Robinson, both with Tennessee ties, Meek a former Vol player and Robinson who followed Neyland as head coach, would be available for any assistance if needed for the remainder of the season.Tennessee declined the thoughtful gesture,though.
The night before the Houston game, Coach Rash succumbed to the head injuries received in the train crash that Monday. Phyisically, the Vols were as healthy for the 1-4 Cougars has they had been all season. While Dickey praised his team and especially the seniors for how they had handled themselves during the week, no one really knew what the mental state would be until gametime.
Replica of helmet with black cross Tennessee wore for remainder of the 1965 season starting with the Houston game to honor the fallen coaches
Senior captain Hal Wantland called a meeting with fellow seniors who all decided to dedicate the season to the coaches killed in the wreck. They also would wear a black cross on the helmets as a silent euology for the three dead coaches starting with the Houston game.
A crowd of nearly 35,000, ten thousand more than had been expected, listened to a memorial prayer and sang the hymn, "Abide With Me." A telegram from the widows of the three coaches was read to the players before the game.
Neither team threatened to score in the first half as the two went to the break tied at 0.The Vols finally scored on a 20 yd Leake field goal after a nice 77 yd drive to go up 3-0.Shortly thereafter, UT's Doug Archibald returned a Houston Bob Burris pass 20 yards for a touchdown to go up 10-0 entering the fourth. Walter Chadwick finished the scoring for UT on a six yard run after a short drive following a Houston fumble on thier 23. Houston scored when Burris hit Tom Beer for a six yard td in the final minute against UT reserves . The tandem followed up on a two point conversion to make the final score 17-8, Vols. Now the 3-0-2 Vols would take a much needed open date and get ready for Georgia Tech.
During the Houston game, it was announced that a scholarship fund was being created for the children of the deceased coaches.$9,500 was raised for the seven children of the young coaches.Within days the fund grew to $25,000 with donations and pledges collected by the Knoxville Journal and Knoxville News-Sentinel.Similar drives were started in Memphis, Columbia, Missouri (where Charlie Rash had been a star lineman for the University of Missouri) and at Baylor where Bob Jones had played and attended law school.
Next up was #8 and 5-1-1 Georgia Tech in Knoxville. Dickey spent the off day personally scouting Tech's 35-23 comeback win over Duke in Atlanta.Dickey was impressed in particular with Tech sophomore quarterback Kim King and running back Lenny Snow.
Tennessee now ranked #11, took the field a slight underdog in front of 52,174 the largest crowd to see a sporting event at that time in the Volunteer State.The first half was dominated by the Yellow Jackets who threatened deep in UT territory five times but came away with nothing in a scoreless half. Tech missed two field goals, threw two interceptions (one in the end zone) and King had a fumble on the Tennessee 10.
But in the third quarter Tennessee erupted for three touchdowns in a seven and a half span for its most impressive offensive outing of the season. The Vols' first score came when Harold Stencell intercepted a King pass that had bounced off Tech's Mike Fortier's fingertips and returned it 36 yards for a score. Leake's conversion made it 7-0.Moments later Fulton ran 57 yards (longest run of the game) to the Georgia Tech 21 yard line to set up the second score. Fulton hit Wantland for a three yard touchdown pass to complete the 79 yard drive.Stan Mitchell scored from the two to complete a 66 yard drive as Tennessee took a 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter.Tennessee's most complete game all season game against seventh ranked Georgia Tech, coached by Hall of Fame coach Bobby Dodd who had been an All-American quarterback at Tennessee for Bob Neyland
Georgia Tech finally got on the scoreboard when Giles Smith, subbing for injured star Lenny Snow ran 33 yards for a touchdown after Tech recovered a Charlie Fulton fumble.Even with Fulton's fumble, he easily won the battle of sophomore quarterbacks with King running for 133 yards and passing for another 101 yards. King threw for 140 yards on 15 of 38 passing with 3 interceptions. Tennessee finished with 358 total yards, by far the most productive afternoon of the season.
Next up were the Ole Miss Rebels in Memphis. The Rebels had defeated the Vols seven straight times but were coming off of a stunning 17-3 loss to two-touchdown underdog Houston, the same Cougars the Vols had methodically downed three weeks earlier in Knoxville at the end of the trying,emotional week after the train crash.
This wouldn't be the first Ole Miss - Tennessee game in Memphis, but it would be the first in the new Memphis Memorial Stadium. In fact from 1935 to 1949 the two met 11 times with all being in Memphis at Crump Stadium named for congressman and businessman E.H. Crump. The 1936 game between the two drew a record crowd of 11,000.This prompted Memphis city leaders to market the venue as a prime "neutral stadium". Memphis planned on renaming the stadium after its most profitable crop in the region, cotton , to go along with California's Rose Bowl and Louisiana's Sugar Bowl and name the stadium the Cotton Bowl. Shortly thereafter the Fair Park Stadium in Dallas renamed itself the Cotton Bowl and Memphis was left with Crump Stadium.But Memphis did host several Ole Miss and Mississippi State games, especially when the two faced Arkansas or Tennessee.Indeed,this would be the fifth straight Ole Miss "home game" vs the Vols since the two began playing on a yearly basis in 1956. Crump also hosted the Texas-Arkansas game in 1947.
But Crump Stadium only held 25,000 and had and outdated pressbox. To lure the fledgling Liberty Bowl game to Memphis and a potentially warmer climate, it was agree to construct a new stadium as opposed to renovating Crump. The Liberty had played before small,frozen crowds in Philadelphia from 1959-1963 and an attempt at an indoor facility in Atlantic City in 1964 which drew less than 7,000 making it the first ever indoor bowl game.The game was played on grass, though as Astroturf or any artificial surface was still a few years off. Four inches of sod were put over two inches of burlap that require 24 hours a day of sunlamps. In fact, the mercury lamps that were used had been the same ones used that summer at the Democratic National Convention and were so bright punt returners had a hard time seeing. 1965 would be the first year the city of Memphis hosted the Liberty Bowl.
As for the game, Ole Miss upset Tennessee, 14-13 ending the Vols' dreams of an unbeaten season, albiet one with two ties and extending the Rebels' winning streak over the Big Orange to seven. A crowd of 40,181 and a regionally televised audience watched Vol quarterback Charles Fulton run for an unlucky 13 yards on the first play of the game. Fulton sprained his ankle on the play and missed the rest of the game being replaced by fellow sophomore Dewey "Swamp Rat" Warren. Tennessee overcame any adjustments and scored first on a Mitchell touchdown that was set up by a 55 yard run by Walter Chadwick. Ole Miss backup quarterback Joe Graves scored from the one and the two went to the lockerroom at halftime knotted at 7.
Tennessee regained the lead in the third quarter when Chadwick scored on a 2 yard run that was set up by an interception return to the Ole Miss 23. However, Leake's extra point was wide and the Vols took a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter.But late in the fourth, Ole Miss put togethor a 72 yard, 17 play drive that ended in a one yard run by Mike Dennis to tie the game at 13. The Rebels' Jimmy Keyes' second conversion gave Ole Miss a 14-13 lead . This was the first time all season that the Vols had trailed in a game.
Tennessee's Chadwick fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Ole Miss recovered. Keyes missed a 33 yard "insurance" field goal, but the game ended shortly thereafter when several long passes by Warren fell incomplete. Tennessee had lost its first game of the year, 14-13. Even without Fulton leading the way, the Vols moved the ball fairly well rushing for 178 yards and getting another 51 in the air, but it wasn't enough.
Oddly enough, both teams would play one more game in Memphis that season : Tennessee had a season-ending regular season game vs UCLA and Ole Miss would be invited to the first Liberty Bowl to be played in Memphis . But for now Tennessee had to regroup and head up to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats in the annual "Beer Barrell" game. While Tennessee led the series record convincingly, Kentucky had won 8 of the last 12 ,with one tie mixed in, including a 12-7 win in Knoxville the prior season.Strangely like Ole Miss the prior game, the Wildcats were coming off a double digit loss at Houston.
Tennessee and Kentucky played for the Beer Barrel at Stoll Field in Lexington in '65, the trophy awarded to the UT-UK winner until 1998.When Vandy and UK met in a one game basketball playoff in 1961 in Knoxville to decide the SEC's representative to the NCAA tournament, some Vandy students stole the Beer Barrel from Kentucky and brought it to the UT campus hoping to elicit crowd support, but UK triumphed, 88-67
The game matched the SEC leader in defense (Tennessee) vs the SEC leader in offense (Kentucky). Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they would be without talented Rick Norton who was pushing Florida's Spurrier for post season honors. Norton tore a tendon in the 'Cats 38-21 loss at Houston the prior game and was out for the season finale. He had passed for 1823 of Kentucky's 2948 total yards which had UK ranked tenth in the nation heading into the Houston game. In the Houston game, he broke Babe Parilli's career marks for total offense and passing yardage. Norton had surgery following the Houston game and it was determined by doctors that he would be healthy in the event the 'Cats played in a bowl, which hinged on a win vs Tennessee.
Had Kentucky beaten Houston, they would have been given a bid to the Cotton Bowl. With Arkansas #2 and virtually assured of the SWC's bid to the Cotton, Frank Broyles wasn't interested in unbeaten Nebraska nor hard charging Alabama. Due to some allegations by black AFL players at the prior year's Pro Bowl of discrimination, Nebraska wasn't interested in the Sugar Bowl and the Orange paired the Tide and Huskers. Initially it appeared Kentucky would 'host' the Sugar but with Missouri becoming a solid candidate for the bowl, the 'Cats had beaten Missouri earlier in the season removing Kentucky from consideration. SEC Commissioner Moore helped the Sugar and Cotton fill its slots and Florida accepted a bid to the Sugar (and would lose to Miami the following week) and LSU to the Cotton. Curiously, even with Tennessee's history and fine 4-1-2 record, the Vols were given little attention by the bowls and virtually none by the Cotton,Sugar and Orange. Only the Gator and Bluebonnet had expressed interest. Basically, the Beer Barrel would not be just for an orange,blue and white keg, but for a bowl bid as well.
Beating Tennessee without Norton was going to be a challenge, but Coach Charlie Bradshaw did have the SEC's rushing leader Rodger Bird and all-purpose back Larry Seipel still healthy. The Vols would also be without their quarterback for the first seven games, Charlie Fulton as Dewey Warren would get his first start before a soldout crowd at Stoll Field.
Both squads struggled offensively in the first half as defense reigned supreme. Bradshaw put saftey Terry Beadles at quarterback for the 'Cats instead of Cincinnati transfer and former Kentucky HS star Roger Walz.UT's Leake kicked a 37 yard field goal in the first and UK's John Anrighetti kicked a 35 yard field goal in the second as the two went to intermission tied 3-3.
In the second half, Tennessee moved the ball adequately, but couldn't score as Warren statistically had a fine afternoon in his first start. The Vols finished with 234 yards on 134 yards rushing and 130 yards passing. Warren was 10 of 21 passing with one interception. But there were no sustained scoring drives.
It didn't matter. Beadles was as cold as the wind howling from the north endzone at Stoll Field. He threw two interceptions, both from deep in UK territory which led to short, quick Tennessee touchdowns.Doug Archibald, who got the scoring going vs Ga Tech on a pick, intercepted a pass at the Kentucky 20 and ran it to the two where Warren scored with 3:20 left in the quarter. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Warren scored on another two yard run after Frank Emanuel picked one off on the UK 30 and returned it to the 21. Already up 17-3, the Vols chased Beadles 27 yards back into the Kentucky end zone where Derrick Weatherford tackled him for a saftey which made the final score 19-3, Big Orange.
After the game besides accepting the return of the Beer Barrel, the Vols accepted a bid to Houston's Bluebonnet Bowl. This would be Tennessee's first bowl since the Gator Bowl in 1957.Now 6-1-2, the Vols found out the day before the upcoming game vs Vanderbilt that they would be playing 8-2 Tulsa and their record setting passing combination of Billy Anderson and Howard Twilley in the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Golden Hurricanes' second straight trip to the Bluebonnet after downing Ole Miss, 14-7 in 1964.Tulsa was selected over TCU, Duke, Syracuse and Colorado.The Vols win over Kentucky sent them to the Bluebonnet Bowl.Even though the Astrodome opened that year, the Bowl was played at Rice Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XIII, until 1968.Interestingly, Rice would be Tennessee's home opener in 1966 and the Vols would return to Houston to face the Owls in 1968
The Commodores' coach was Jack Green, a West Point graduate who had team with Doc Blanchard and Glen Davis, "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside" on Army's 1945 National Champions. He coached with Red Blaik at Army from '54 to '59 and then coached one season at Tulane, where he had originally enrolled in college before an appointment to West Point, and the for two seasons at Florida when he was hired off Ray Graves' staff. When Art Guepe resigned from Vandy at the end of the 1962 season, Vandy whittled the original 90 applicants down to 26. But Green was chosen without ever applying. The next season after Bud Wilkinson's surprising decision to leave Oklahoma as head coach to run for the Senate, Oklahoma approached Green about the head coaching job, but he declined to pursue it.
Green's Vandy teams played very good defense and in fact, would wind up as the SEC's leader in total defense and number five in the nation. But the Commodores' offense was anemic during his tenure with Vandy not once scoring more than 90 points in Green's four seasons. The 1965 Tennessee game was no different as the Vols cruised to a methodical 21-3 win over Vanderbilt.
Stan Mitchell raced 62 yards on the third play of the game as UT went up 7-0.Toby Wilt's field goal narrowed the lead to 7-3. In the second quarter Tennessee marched 80 yards and scored on a 20 yard pass from Dewey Warren to Austin Denney.Mitchell scored again from the two after Paul Naumoff recovered a fumble on the Vanderbilt 23. All the scoring came in the first half as Tennessee put up impressive offensive stats with 328 total yards as the Vols conference season came to a close as UT finished tied for 3rd in the SEC with Florida.
For the first time since a game with Houston in 1953 Tennessee would end the regular season against someone other than Vanderbilt. The Vols would travel back to Memphis to face #5 UCLA and head coach and Memphis native, Tommy Prothro. Two weeks earlier, the then #8 Bruins had rallied from a 16-6 deficit to nip crosstown #6 Southern Cal 20-16 at the Coliseum to virtually assure UCLA the host slot in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Committee did indeed select UCLA unbeaten in Pacific Athletic Conference play,( the following year UCLA would find out that having the best conference mark and head to head wins don't always guarantee the Rose bid) making the 1966 Rose Bowl the second consecutive trip to Pasadena for Prothro whom had taken Oregon State there the prior season.
The matchup, dubbed "the Rosebonnet Bowl" by Tennessee radio broadcaster George Mooney was as exciting as any bowl in 1965, or ever as the two teams marched up and down the field throughout the contest. A crowd of 44,495 which has tripled in the 45 years since the game was played in terms of those who claim they were there saw Tennessee pull out a dramatic, if not controversial 37-34 win over UCLA that wasn't decided until the final :39.
Starting his third game for the Vols , Dewey Warren etched himself into Vol folklore with 274 yards passing on 19 of 27 completions and the winning score on a run from the four yardline.The game changed leads six times with each team scoring three consecutive touchdowns during the game.Tennessee quarterback Dewey Warren, who loved to "hum that tater" had an incredible game with 274 yards passing and the winning touchdown run in the 37-34 win over UCLA in the 1965 'Rosebonnet' game in Memphis
UCLA scored first on a one yard Paul Horgan run to go up 7-0. Tennessee then went on to score three touchdowns, two Warren passes to Wantland sandwiched around a Warren sneak from the one to take a 20-7 lead into halftime. But the Bruins wasted little time taking the lead back as fellow sophomore quarterback Gary Beban (and 1967 Heisman Winner, Warren finished 9th that year) led UCLA back in it with a 36 yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 20-14. 30 seconds later UCLA retook the lead when Tim McAteer returned a fumble in the air 35 yards for a touchdown. The conversion made it 21-20, UCLA. Beban closed out the scoring in the third quarter with a one yard run to cap an 86 yard drive as UCLA went into the fourth ahead, 28-20.
The Vols weren't done,though. Behind three straight passes from Warren to Johnny Mills, who had 114 yards in receptions, Tennessee got to the UCLA 7 in three plays. The third pass was a wild one with Mills lateralling to Chadwick who ran 33 yards . Chadwick scored from the seven and after missing a tying two point conversion, the Vols trailed by 2. UCLA soon punted and Tennessee marched 78 yards in 16 plays to the Bruin 3. David Leake, who had missed a winning extra point vs Auburn and tying extra point vs Ole Miss , kicked a field goal from extra point range to give Tennessee a 29-28 lead.
UCLA wasn't done yet,either. Beban marched the Bruins 74 yards in six plays scoring his third touchdown from four yards out. The Bruins then missed their two point conversion and led 34-29 with 3:30 left in the game.
Now it was Tennessee's turn. Down 34-29, the Vols had only given up 30 points or more 15 times in the 477 games played between 1915 and the prior week's Vandy game. Tennessee had lost all 15. Seven of General Neyland's Vol squads gave up 34 points or fewer for an entire season.
Tennessee had 65 yards to go for a winning touchdown. After 8 plays and runs by Warren and big pass plays to Mills and Chadwick, Tennessee now faced a fourth down on the UCLA 1.Warren, who wasn't fleet of foot and slowed even more from a pulled groin, rolled out left for a pass and found no one.He tucked the ball in behind left tackle and was pounded at the goal line, but the officials raised their hands upward and then a Warren two point conversion to Denney gave UT its first successful two point play of the year and an incredible 37-34 lead with :39 left.
:39 was a lot in this game.UCLA then returned the kickoff to midfield. A quick pass got the Bruins inside the UT 40. On what turned out to be the last play of the game, Beban fired one deep down to the Tennessee 6 where it was intercepted by Bob Petrella. Petrella seeing daylight ran 49 yards down the sidelines in front of the UCLA bench and was knocked out of bounds as time expired. Tommy Prothro (clutching the briefcase he carried at every game in his career,including the NFL in the '70's) and the rest of the UCLA team were much more happy four weeks later after the Bruins stunned #1 Michigan State, 14-12 in the Rose Bowl.
The game was over, but not the drama.As for Petrella, he truly was knocked out. The game was the classic 'its a shame either had to lose' and it was too much for Bruin Paul Horgan, who scored the games' first touchdown. Horgan ran to where Petrella had been tackled and leveled a forearm that required 12 stitches and gave Petrella a concussion. Paul Naumoff said a UCLA assistant hit him as he and other Vols went to the UCLA sidelines to rescue Petrella in the melee that ensued.
While he didn't hit anyone, losing coach Prothro's rage made Horgan's seem mild. The Memphis native and Duke graduate uttered the infamous line, "For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be a Southerner." After initially saying all of the right things about Tennessee's effort and gameplan he went into a tirade sharply berating the referees.
Prothro was livid at the officiating claiming, "the Southern officials were determined to win it, and they did." Prothro maintained the crew , which did include two from the West Coast, stopped the clock three times on UT's final drive needlessly in effect giving the Vols' additional time outs. He also claimed pass interference at the UCLA 17 shouldn't have been called since the receiver had dropped it before he was hit. And on the play before Warren's winning score, Prothro claimed a pass ruled as incomplete to David Leake was instead a lateral and UCLA should have had possession after covering it up. In a different era and time, Fred Russell the long time respected sports editor of the Nashville Banner covering the game asked Prothro if he wanted to to retract or soften any of his words and accusations.Prothro refused to withdraw or revise any of his comments towards the officiating crew.
The postgame aftermath lingered for days. While Tennessee officials certainly didn't agree with nor condone Prothro's comments on officiating, it was Horgan's forearm shiver to Petrella that had the Vols livid and they wanted an apology from the Bruins.Meanwhile, George Gardner head of SEC officials, said he would not 'dignify' Prothro's and UCLA's comments about the officials in the UCLA-Tennessee game.
Back in Los Angeles at "the Twig", the uncomplimentary moniker derived from UCLA's original name "University of California, Southern Branch" by Southern Cal fans, softened their stance on the postgame issues not necessarily in any form of apology,but trying to deflect anymore comments. Prothro said he wasn't sure what he should apologize for and that he hadn't seen the last play nor spoken with Horgan and said he had said all he was going to say about the officiating. Vic Kelley, in effect UCLA's sports information director, went so far to make the rather curious and bizarre comment on Horgan, "with 30,000 on campus we couldn't find Horgan in a million years," and that the film of the game hadn't arrived yet so they hadn't had chance to review it.
The 1965 game was the first of three games the two had scheduled with Tennessee slated to return to Los Angeles in 1967 and the Bruins to come to Knoxville in 1968. The series' future was on shaky ground as UT AD Woodruff solicited Bernie Moore's help in contacting West Coast (Pac 8) commissioner Tom Hamilton to investigate the matter on UCLA's end.
Two days later Prothro , and Horgan issued apologies, albiet somewhat lukewarm on Prothro's part, but apologies nonetheless to Petrella and Tennessee.While upset that Petrella was injured, UCLA and AD J.D. Morgan maintained that Petrella was tackled or pushed into Horgan on the final play on the sidelines by Bruin Barry Leventhal and Horgan was merely pushing Petrella off of him. UCLA was adamant that Horgan's antics had been blown out of context and film clearly indicates he didn't hit Petrella above the shoulders.The player, Horgan, did seem more conciliatory maintaning he "didn't hit him (Petrella) in the face," and "didn't mean to harm him." Horgan who had a fine year in UCLA's own turnaround also hoped this one play isn't what he would be remembered for.
Now that UCLA and the unexpected controversial aftermath were out of the way, the Vols had to get down to business to face Tulsa in the Bluebonnet Bowl which would be played in less than two weeks.
The game was billed as having the potential of a high scoring affair with lots of passing, similar to the season finale in Memphis vs UCLA.The 8-2 Golden Hurricane were led by their record setting passing tandem of quarterback Billy Anderson and receiver Howard Twilley who finished the season with 19 NCAA records between them. Twilley, runner up in the 1965 Heisman Trophy voting to Southern Cal's Mike Garrett, gained every NCAA record and became the first lineman in history to win the NCAA scoring championship with 127 total points on 16 touchdowns, 23 placekicks and four two point coversions. He caught 134 passes in '65, 45% of Anderson's NCAA record 296 completions.
The Vols' proved they had big play potential in the thrilling win over UCLA, but Tennessee was more know for its rugged defense. Tulsa had proven it could play defense,too. While losing their second game of the year at #2 Arkansas, Tulsa had held the explosive Razorbacks to their regular season low of 20 points in the 20-12 loss. The Vols' defense was led by an outstanding linebacking corp of Frank Emanuel and Tom Fisher, whom Bear Bryant had said were the best two linebackers in the country. Tulsa was led on defense by defensive lineman Willie Townes.Townes' abilities had not gone unnoticed by the NFL. In fact, during the week in Houston, Tulsa coach Glenn Dobbs had gotten into a heated exchange with Dallas Cowboys' director of player personnel Gil Brandt in the hotel lobby where the Hurricanes were staying.Townes had been redshirted and therefore had another year of eligibility left and Dobbs claimed Brandt and Dallas had "tampered" with Townes encouraging him to give up his final year. Dobbs threatened to ban all Dallas personnel from campus.Game program for the 7th annual Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston vs Tennessee and Tulsa The game at Rice Stadium was played on almost a rice paddy as the Bluebonnet Bowl was plagued by bad weather in its early stages. Even though the Astrodome was completed in 1965, the bowl wouldn't be staged there until 1968 when it became the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.When the decision in the summer of 1968 was made to move the bowl game to the Astrodome it was because of the weather the bowl had been cursed with, either pouring down rain, bitter cold , or both.Tennessee won convincingly, 27-6 as the Vols' defense, coupled with horrible playing conditions forced Tulsa into 7 turnovers, with Anderson throwing four interceptions. Tulsa and Tennessee played in steady rain the entire game. Tulsa (#62) started out in dark jerseys in the first half (the black cross on Tennessee's 'T' on the helmet is visible in this photo)
At halftime changed from blue to white jerseys since they were so soaked.Billy Anderson (14) talks with coach Glenn Dobbs on how he and Howard Twilley (81) can get the offense going, or maybe why wasn't the game played at the Astrodome ?
The Vols scored early and often scoring off Hurricane turnovers as well as a 45 yard punt return by Jerry Smith set up another touchdown in the three touchdown win. Tulsa actually led in first downs and total yardage 16-11 and 323-218 but Tennessee's defense made Anderson and Twilley's life miserable.Tennessee scored first after recovering Gary McDermott's fumble near midfield. Dewey Warren got the nod at quarterback over a healthy Charlie Fulton and passed down to the 12 and after running plays found Wantland opened for a four yard touchdown and after a missed extra point, the Vols were up 6-0. McDermott redeemed himself as Tulsa came right back and drove 56 yards with McDermott scoring from the one. All-World Twilley, who also was the place kicker, missed his conversion as well and the quarter ended at 6-6.
In the second quarter, in the miserable playing conditions, McDermott fumble a lateral on the Hurricane 33 recovered by Frank Emanuel. Fulton and Warren alternated at QB on the drive and Warren scored from the one. Leake converted this time and the Vols led 13-6.Smith's punt return to the Tulsa 7 set up Warren's second td run from one yard out as Tennessee led 20-6 at halftime.
The Vols' final points came in the third quarter when Glenn Gray intercepted another Anderson pass, this time at the Tulsa 43. Workhorse fullback Stan Mitchell ran for 34 of the 43 in the scoring drive scoring from the 11 dragging Tulsa's Jack Scruggs with him. Leake's conversion made the final score Tennessee 27-6.
Defensive MVP Emanuel and Offensive MVP Warren pose with UT President Andy Holt and Tennessee Governor Frank Clement after the Bluebonnet Bowl victory
The Vols' final record of 8-1-2 and final ranking of #7 hadn't gone unnoticed outside of Tennessee or the Southeastern Conference. Oklahoma, who's board of regents reluctantly went along with the teams' choice of assistant Gomer Jones when legendary Bud Wilkinson suprisingly stepped down in early 1964 had to find a new coach after Jones resigned after a disastrous 3-7 mark in 1965.Doug Dickey turned down the Oklahoma job after the '65 season.Darrell Royal (L) turned it down,too and the job went to Jim MacKenzie from Arkansas' staff who hired Chuck Fairbanks (R). After Fairbanks became the OU head coach, Royal had Emory Bellard teach Fairbanks and OU the Wishbone after the 1970 season. Royal never defeated Oklahoma again
The leading candidate for the Sooners' job was none other than Doug Dickey. In fact various Oklahoma news outlets reported during the two week period between the UCLA game and the Bluebonnet Bowl that a deal between OU and Dickey was already in place.OU President George Cross endorsed him as "a fine prospect" and the word was the deal would be done following the bowl game. Dickey did very little to end speculation as he refused to comment.
Once word got out that there might be something to Dickey's departure, UT athletic director Bob Woodruff was able to work things out with Dickey, who maintained he wasn't out looking for anything, with additional money and benefits.Oklahoma would have to look elsewhere.
(After getting turned down by Georgia's Vince Dooley and Texas head coach and OU alum Darrell Royal, OU hired 35 year old Jim MacKenzie off Frank Broyles' staff, where he had coached with Dickey in Fayetteville.One of the assistants MacKenzie hired was Chuck Fairbanks, from Bill Yeoman's staff at Houston.Fairbanks had been offered a coaching job at Tennessee by Dickey in 1964 and reluctantly turned it down as the '64 season was approaching. Sadly, Oklahoma suffered a coaching tragedy themselves as MacKenzie died of a heart attack in early 1967.Fairbanks was elevated to head coach and his #3 Sooners held on to defeat Dickey's #2 Vols that year in the 1968 Orange Bowl, 26-24.Fairbanks would leave Oklahoma for the New England Patriots in 1973 and Dickey for Florida in 1970. After each left those football squads respectively following the 1978 season, they were reunited in Boulder,CO as Fairbanks became the Colorado Buffaloes head coach in 1979 and Doug Dickey was his offensive coordinator.Dickey had actually been Acting Head Coach for a brief period as Fairbanks had to work through a lawsuit with the Patriots which had originally prevented him from the CU post.)
While recruiting wasn't as sophisticated or as scrutinized as it is now, the Vols hauled in an outstanding freshman class on the heels of the 8-1-2 mark in 1965. 1966 freshman included Steve Kiner, Jack Reynolds, Vic Dingus, Don McCleary and Gary Kreis. This class would go on to win two SEC titles in their varsity seasons in 1967 and 1969 and a berth in the Cotton Bowl after the '68 year.
However, after the 1966 freshman class was signed and sealed, Tennessee was dealt another heart breaking tragedy a mere six months after the fatal train wreck in October. Returning to Knoxville to start Spring Training , Tom Fisher, John Crumbacher and Gerald Woods after spending the week at Fisher's home in Brooksville, Florida were involved in a head-on collision with a truck on U.S. 411 between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Fisher and Crumbacher were killed instantly in the fiery crash.State troopers said the impact of the tractor-trailor and Fisher's vehicle sheared the car in half.Fisher had led the team in tackles and was a pre-season All-American. Crumbacher had started on the defensive line and playing some on the offensive line as well.
But the Vols carried through and produced top 10 teams from 1966 through 1972 and didn't suffer another losing season until 1977.