Majors to get Neyland Award

John Majors, who starred as a player and spent 16 years as head football coach at Tennessee, will receive this year's Robert R. Neyland Memorial Trophy, awarded by Knoxville Quarterback Club.

Majors served as head man at Iowa State (1968-72), Pittsburgh (1973-76 and 1993-96) and Tennessee (1977-92). The Quarterback Club has made the award annually since 1967 to an outstanding leader in intercollegiate athletics in honor and memory of the Vols head coach (1926-52) and Athletics Director (1952-62).

Majors is the eighth person with Tennessee ties to win the award, joining Nathan W. Dougherty and Herman Hickman (1967), Bobby Dodd (1969), John Barnhill (1970), Bob Woodruff (1986), Murray Warmath (1991), and Doug Dickey (2001).

The Award will be given April 11, by the Quarterback Club at the Marriott Hotel downtown. Majors will also speak at the annual Awards Luncheon of the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Saturday, April 12, at 11:30 a.m. at the Foundry, 747 Worlds Fair Park Drive, in downtown Knoxville. Cost for the East Tennessee Chapter Luncheon is $25 per ticket. Tickets may be obtained by calling Tom Mattingly, 974-1266.

''Naturally, I'm deeply honored and most appreciative of receiving this special recognition and award named after one of the great coaches and leaders in America both in athletics and in the military,'' Majors said.

''I was one of the recruits that were among the last recruiting classes that Gen. Neyland signed in December 1952, shortly before his retirement from coaching. Even though our signing class was disappointed in not having the opportunity to play under this legendary coach, we were fortunate enough to have played for two of his former players and proteges, Harvey Robinson and Bowden Wyatt.

''I got to know Gen. Neyland quite well when I began my coaching career in 1957 under coach Wyatt. On many occasions, I sought his counsel, advice and suggestions in his private office. He was always most considerate and most helpful and told me things that were embedded with me throughout my entire coaching career.''

In three different head coaching jobs -- at Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee -- Majors rebuilt struggling programs and has achieved an unusual distinction, winning coach-of-the-year honors at all three schools at either conference or national levels.

Majors infused life into the Iowa State program and twice led the Cyclones to bowl games. He was 24-30-1 at Iowa State. At Pittsburgh, Majors guided the 1973 contingent to a 6-5-1 record after the previous years team had won but one game. After 7-4 and 8-4 records the next two seasons, the Panthers, led by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, grabbed the brass ring and won it all in 1976. He finished 33-13-1 in his first stint at Pittsburgh.

When the Tennessee head coaching job opened up late in 1976, Majors was a consensus choice to lead the Vols out of the gridiron wilderness. With the injunction Follow Me to Tennessee, Majors came to Knoxville and set about rebuilding the Vols program. In his third season as head man, the Vols defeated Notre Dame and made an appearance in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

During his Tennessee career, Majors compiled a 116-62-8 record and led the Vols to three SEC titles and 12 bowl games.

After leaving Tennessee after the 1992 season, Majors completed another stint at Pittsburgh with a record of 12-32 from 1993-96, leaving his overall record with the school at 45-45-1 and his overall record as a head coach at 185-137-10.

Since that time, he has been a special assistant to the chancellor and athletic director at Pitt.


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