Majors named Vol 'legend'

Former player and coach Johnny Majors will be Tennessee's representative when the Southeastern Conference showcases the league's football "Legends" at the Championship game in Atlanta this weekend.

Majors was a triple threat tailback during his days at Tennessee, a two-time SEC Player of the Year (1955-56), a 1956 All-America selection and Heisman Trophy runner-up. Playing both ways, Majors led the Vols to a 10-1 record in 1956 as Bowden Wyatt's team won the SEC and played Baylor in the Sugar Bowl that season. He later returned to his alma mater as head coach from 1977-92.

"I didn't know I was a legend," Majors said. "I'm honored to be selected to attend the Championship Game. Whatever my biography may say is good, I know why it happened. I had great support from home, unconditional love from my parents, my siblings, my wife, Mary Lynn, and children.

"I had exceptional coaching as a player from my father, Shirley Majors, and from Harvey Robinson and Bowden Wyatt, and their staffs. No man could have had a better mother than I did in Elizabeth Majors. I had special teammates who were helpful in me being as effective as I might have been. I had no excuses to fail based on the people I just mentioned whatever favorable accomplishments there might have been. I'm not the one to judge that."

After serving as an assistant coach at Tennessee and Mississippi State, Majors launched a head coaching career that saw him rebuild programs at Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. He then returned to Pittsburgh, where he had won a national championship in 1976. Voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987, Majors finished with a record of 185-137-10 in 29 seasons of coaching. He was 116-62-6 at Tennessee, with three conference championships (1985, 1989 and 1990) and 12 bowl games. He produced 15 All-Americans.

Majors' greatest moment as a player probably occurred in the classic Tennessee-Georgia Tech game of 1956, voted the second greatest game of all time by Associated Press a few years later. He had the key pass completion to Buddy Cruze and sent Tommy Bronson hurdling the line for the game's only score at the north end of Grant Field in Atlanta.

As a coach, Majors' 1991 Tennessee team came back from the dead against Notre Dame in the so-called ''Miracle at South Bend,'' rallying from a 31-7 halftime deficit to win 35-34. His 1985 team defeated heavily favored Miami in the Sugar Bowl, 35-7, in what may have been the most stirring performance in program history.

Other SEC legends who will be honores in Atlanta are: Vaughn Mancha, Alabama; Loyd Phillips, Arkansas; Terry Beasley, Auburn; Brad Culpepper, Florida; Art Still, Kentucky; George Patton, Georgia; Brad Culpepper, Florida; Mike Anderson, LSU; Ben Williams, Mississippi; Jeff Grantz, South Carolina; Harper Davis, Mississippi State; and Jim Arnold, Vanderbilt.

Previous Vol legends honored in Atlanta were Bob Johnson (1994), Doug Atkins (1995), Condredge Holloway (1996), John Michels (1997), Richmond Flowers (1998), Steve Kiner (1999), Steve DeLong (2000) and Stanley Morgan (2001).

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