A longtime Vols fan, Leach indicated that the signed 1938 ball was given to him by Bill Murrell, who served as an assistant football coach at Tennessee from 1938-41 and again in 1947. The 1966 ball, also autographed by the team members, was presented to Leach's father by former athletics director Bob Woodruff, in recognition of his support of the athletic program.
The 1938 team finished with an 11-0 record and was declared National Champion by five nationally recognized poll selectors. The team was led by College Football Hall-of-Famers George Cafego, Ed Molinski, Bob Suffridge and Bowden Wyatt.
The 1966 team finished 8-3. The Vols concluded the season with an 18-12 Gator Bowl victory over the Larry Csonka and Floyd Little-led Syracuse Orangemen. Tennessee's Dewey Warren was named Most Outstanding Player of the game.