UTC Has Had Role In Tide Tradition

Almost every Alabama fan is aware of the Third Saturday in October, the traditional date of the Crimson Tide's game against Tennessee before conference expansion put the game on random October Saturdays. But there was also another October date of consequence to the Bama-Tennessee rivalry.

Without question, Alabama was THE game on the Tennessee schedule each year. It is the game that has more than any other determined Southeastern Conference champions and influenced national championship success. The rivalry was fueled by Tennessee's rise to greatness in the late 1920s when Gen. Robert Neyland took over in Knoxville.

Among the things Neyland is remembered for saying is that he would know how good his players were when they played Alabama.

Neyland was a tactician, and one of his tactics involved Chattanooga. Neyland arranged to have Chattanooga, a respected small college team, play Tennessee on the SECOND Saturday in October. This was not just to have a warm-up game before Bama.

Legend has it that Chattanooga was expected to use the same offensive and defensive alignments as did Alabama.

The head coach at Chattanooga was Andrew Cecil "Scrappy" Moore, and he served at the school from 1931 through 1967. Supposedly, Moore told Neyland one year that he was going to change his offense to the single wing, the offense that was the trademark of the Vols. Moore explained that all the high schools in East Tennessee ran the single wing and that was the source of Chattanooga recruiting.

The story goes that Neyland asked Moore if the guaranteed purse that went to Chattanooga for playing in Knoxville every year was important to the Mocs. Moore said it certainly was. And Neyland told him if he wanted to continue to cash that check, he would continue to run Alabama formations.

From 1938 through 1957, Chattanooga played Tennessee on the second Saturday in October.

Chattanooga doesn't play Tennessee these days. The smaller school is now a part of the University of Tennessee system, UTC.

Moore's legacy continues at the school. Chattanooga plays at Scrappy Moore Field. The team is informally known as the "Scrappy Mocs." The mascot of the team is known as "Scrappy."

Moore was more than just a colorful character, known in part for his squeaky voice. He is a member of the Hall of Fame.

This year's edition of the UTC Mocs is a good one, 8-3 overall and 6-2 in Southern Conference play. Russ Huesman is a graduate of Chattanooga and in his fifth year as head coach of the Mocs. His son, Jacob, is the quarterback.

Alabama will host Chattanooga at 1 p.m. CST Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide is 10-0 overall and 7-0 in SEC games.

This has been a sporadic series with Alabama having won the 11 previous games. The last meeting was in Bama's 2009 national championship season, a 45-0 Crimson Tide win.

Saturday's game is the last of the season in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There will be a ceremony prior to the game honoring Bama seniors playing their final game in Tuscaloosa.

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