Scott Moore On Tennessee Week
My grandfather once told me " Scottie, this one means the most, this one is special and will be for the rest of your life. Coach Bryant would rather beat the Vols than anyone."
It's the catalyst for a memorable season or one you would like to forget.
When Alabama beats Tennessee you light up a stogie and celebrate. It's the essence of a big college football rivalry that brings border states together at a special time of the year. The Third Saturday in October means fall. It's a glorious time of the year with the colors of Alabama crimson and Tennessee orange the perfect backdrop for the perfect fall afternoon and the rights of fall passage.
Memories and stars are made from this game and we remember and take it with us the rest of our lives. The Good and the Bad.
In 1972 Bama trailed 10-3 until late in the fourth quarter and wound up winning 17-10 by scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes and 23 seconds, giving Tennessee quarterback and Alabama native Condredge Holloway a memory he has never gotten over. Holloway, who is now assistant athletics director for player relations at Tennessee, said, "For my growing up in the state of Alabama and then playing at Tennessee, this is the game. I know a lot has changed with the SEC being split into two divisions and such, and for all the new kids involved in our program Florida has become a big rivalry, certainly. But for me personally and a lot of the Tennessee fans, beating Alabama is the biggest priority for our program because of what it means.
"Coach Bryant to me was bigger than life and competing against him and all of those great Alabama teams is something I will never forget. I never had a chance to beat Coach Bryant and Alabama and that 1972 game is something I think about every time we play Alabama. I have great respect for Alabama and all that they have accomplished and we certainly have enjoyed some tremendous success the last few years against them. But for all the success you have, the pain of the defeats are still as vivid today as they were in 1972."
In this the 75th anniversary of Southeastern Conference football, it is illuminating to look at the two most prestigious teams of the league. Alabama has 21 SEC championships, the most of any team, and Tennessee is second with 13. Alabama leads the nation in bowl appearances at 54 and Tennessee is the second most frequent bowl visitor from the SEC with 46. Alabama has the most bowl victories at 30 and the Vols are second from the SEC and fourth nationally with 24.
The Quotes: Tennessee Head Coach General Robert Neyland once said, "You know you haven't been in a football game until you have played against Alabama." Coach Bryant every Thursday night before the Alabama vs Tennessee game said to his warriors, " Be Brave."
The Moments: 1973 Gary Rutledge to Wayne Wheeler 80 yards on the first play from Scrimmage to spark a 42-21 Crimson Tide Victory and Coach Bryant on his Sunday show, " Ol' Wayne looked like he was out to practice early." 1979 down 17-0 at Legion Field defending National Champs with 27 unanswered points to win 27-17 and capture Coach Bryant's last National Championship. 1990 and Philip Doyle. Heavy underdog Alabama on the road at third ranked U-T. And Doyle from 48 on the final play to give Alabama the lasting 9-6 victory and Roger Shultz lasting word's. "We should have to pay property tax on this stadium because we own Tennessee."
Keith Jackson, who is without a doubt the greatest voice that college football has ever known said, "Alabama and Tennessee is the most enjoyable big game that I ever had the pleasure to cover on a regular basis." Said Jackson. " It's the epitome of college football with Rocky Top and Roll Tide. It shakes the leaves of the trees and there is just no better place to be on earth than Alabama and Tennessee on a fall afternoon."
Gene Stallings loved this game and had a pretty good record in it while he was at Alabama going 4-2-1 against Tennessee. Stallings said, "You want to coach in a game like this. It's why you come to a place like Alabama. I mean, it's a big game. The atmosphere, the fans the players. Man, there is just something special about Alabama and Tennessee.
"Being out of coaching, this is certainly a game that I miss being part of, but I will never forget being part of such a great rivalry."
Who can forget Roman Harper's lick at the goal line just two seasons ago and D.J, Hall's incredible catch that lead to Jamie Christenson's last second field goal to lift the Tide to a 6-3 victory. It's a magical feeling when Alabama and Tennessee play and the feeling you get when you beat Tennessee as a player, a coach, or as a fan, is something you carry with you for a lifetime.
There is no question that the Alabama-Auburn game is big and certainly stands on its own as a rivalry game. But Alabama and Tennessee on the Third Saturday of October is about as big as it gets if you bleed Crimson. And a win over Tennessee in Bryant Denny means it's time to light up a stogie and enjoy the spoils of victory.
I have been around this game now for 44 years and it's something I am never going to forget. It's Tennessee week. Soak it all up. enjoy it, and get your cigars ready.
Something special is coming this way on Saturday.
Editor's Note: Scott Moore is a nationally known radio broadcaster and host of "Inside The Crimson Tide" radio each Tuesday, noon-2 p.m. CDT.
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