Ford to be Vol historian

Former Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors once said of Bud Ford, "He never has an opinion. He won't get to the point."

Of course, Majors burst out laughing after uttering those words because they couldn't have been further from the truth when describing Ford, the longtime UT Media Relations Director who announced his retirement this week effective at the end of December.

A Knoxville native and 45-year veteran of his profession, Ford always let it be known that he stood for integrity, passion and tradition when it came to his beloved University of Tennessee. And he displayed those traits every day to head coaches, student assistants, media representatives and fans alike.

"Bud Ford loves Tennessee with a passion that shows through in the way he does his job," UT legend Phillip Fulmer said. "He was always helpful to me as a player, assistant, and especially as the head coach. Whatever the situation, you could be sure he always was protective of the integrity, tradition and image that makes Tennessee football special."

Ford, 66, is moving into the position of Athletics Department Historian beginning Jan. 1, 2012, and plans to keep serving as a mentor to those in the UT family.

"The history of Tennessee athletics has always intrigued me." Ford said. "During my whole career, I have constantly gathered historical facts and figures to preserve this ongoing picture in my mind of what UT athletics was. I've certainly enjoyed the opportunity to work with a lot of great athletes, student workers and employees through these many years."

Included in that group is quarterback Peyton Manning, who from 1994-97 became an iconic figure in the Volunteer State.

"Bud is simply the best in the business," said Manning, who leaned on Ford for advice during his celebrated UT career. "I will always be indebted to Bud Ford, and I am honored to call him my friend."

  Ford, who was hired straight out of college in June 1966 by athletics director Bob Woodruff, also worked under Doug Dickey and Mike Hamilton. He advised and supported six UT football head coaches -- Dickey, Bill Battle, Majors, Fulmer, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley.

Majors leaned on the combination of Ford and Haywood Harris for 17 years, and the Tennessee bond was strong between coach and his sports information directors from the start.

"Bud Ford is one of the most valuable people to an athletics department I have ever known," Majors said. "I've worked with some mighty good people, and Bud Ford is as good as they come. You just can't beat him.

"He is honest and loyal to the highest degree and has great integrity. He is extremely efficient and knowledgeable about his profession, and has been invaluable to me and to anyone else who worked with him at the University of Tennessee. He also was invaluable to the many sportscasters, writers and media around the country."

Majors appreciated Ford's frankness when it mattered most, but wasn't afraid to joke around with his publicity man after the crisis had passed.

"Bud is one of the most straightforward people I have ever known, and I've often kidded him by saying, ‘Bud, why don't you ever get to the point? Why don't you just say it like it is?' He will give you the answer he believes in and he will shoot straight from the hip as much as anybody I've ever known.

"You never had to read between the lines of what he said because he was very plain-spoken."

Ford was promoted to his current position of Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations in April 2000. Before that, Ford served as primary men's basketball contact from 1966-85, during the Ray Mears and Don DeVoe eras. He spent 13 years as UT's Sports Information Director, and then was promoted to Assistant AD for Sports Information.

Those positions were just rewards for the work Ford began when he was named the school's first full-time Assistant SID under CoSIDA Hall of Fame member Harris.

  "I was privileged to work under one of the most respected men in the sports information field," Ford said of Harris, who died last June at the age of 80 and with whom Ford teamed for 35 years. "I also was part of a time in collegiate sports history that will most likely never occur again.

"Since 1950, the job of the sports information director promoting men's sports has been held by a graduate of the University of Tennessee. Lindsey Nelson, 1950; Gus Manning, 1951-60; and Haywood Harris, 1961-2000 -- if you add in the 11 years I have been privileged to serve in that position, that is a total of 61 years at one school by alumni who totally dedicated themselves to their university in every way," Ford said.

  Ford himself was inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 2001 and later received the prestigious Arch Ward Award in 2006 for outstanding contributions to the field of sports information.

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