According to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, “Kermit Tipton, who last night was elevated from Junior High School coach to the head coaching post at Science Hill School, is a graduate of Milligan College and gained his Master’s Degree at the University of Mississippi.

Tipton, whose football and basketball teams and later Junior High, posted successful records, succeeded Jack Green as head grid mentor of the Hilltoppers.ö


Smallwood Direction

“Sidney Smallwood, basketball coach, was recently named overall athletic director of the city athletic program. The 34-year old Tipton, a former Science Hill football great, starring as a Topper, from 1938 through 1940. Tipton then attended Milligan in 1941 and 1942, before entering the United States Army, where he served in the Infantry for three years. In 1953, he received his Master’s Degree at Ole Mississippi.ö

Coached At Lamar

“Tipton was assistant coach at Lamar in 1949 and 1950, but moved up to the head coaching job at the Washington County School in 1951. In 1951, Tipton’s football won five and lost two. His basketball won 20 and lost five.

“In 1952 at Lamar, the Cherokees under Tipton won five and dropped three in football and won 19 and lost eight in basketball.

“Tipton has been at Junior High three years. In 1953, his football team won three and lost three. In 1954, the team won seven, lost one and tied one, and last season the Junior High eleven posted 11 victories against two defeats.ö



 “In recommending Tipton for the post as head football coach at Science Hill, Forrest Morris, chairman of the recommending athletic committee, wrote Chairman Ray Humphreys of the Board of Education:

Dear Mr. Humphreys: “We are as requested, present to this board the name of Jack Green, who recently resigned as head coach at Science Hill High School, who in our opinion is capable and will satisfactorily fill this position.

“This young man is a keen student of the game of football and is well known for his ability to teach his boys to play smart, aggressive football. He is very popular with the boys, as he is with all of his fellow coaches.ö

“Likewise, he is respected and held in the highest esteem by his competitors, as well as the fame officials. To all familiar with the game of football, he is recognized as one fully capable of fielding smart teams always imbued with a desire to win.

“He is a poor loser, in the sense that he always plays to win and hates to lose, yet he is not one who would at anytime sacrifice the basic ideals of good sportsmanship and clean fair play just in order to win.

“To him, such would be impossible since good sportsmanship and clean fair play is much a part of his of his everyday living, on or off the gridiron. Truly, he is the type of young man with whom we would be willing to trust our own sons.

Kermit’s Success

“Kermit has been successful in his present position, and in the opinion of this committee, has done an all-round  good job, therefore it is more or less in the spirit of a “reward for a good job well done” that we present the name of Kermit Tipton, the present head coach at Junior High and recommend that he be elevated to the Science Hill High School position.

Respectfully submitted, F.K. Morris, chairman, Athletic Committee Member.


And The Rest Is History

“The name of Kermit Tipton went down in Science Hill High School football history never to be forgotten.ö


Photo Accompanying This Column

  “The photo with my column is from December 5, 1957. The caption reads, ‘Most Outstanding ‘Topper – Jule Crocker, center, Johnson City Hilltopper guard, holds his most outstanding trophy, awarded him by the Johnson City Junior Chamber of Commerce. Left to right is ‘Topper coach, Kermit Tipton, Lynn Cooter, and Jule Crocker. It was put in the school’s trophy case.ö

   Writing this article evoked such pleasant memories for me from that era of sports history.

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Recently, while watching a University of Tennessee basketball game, I thought about Harold Anthony “Lou” Bello,” a serious college basketball referee who also was a zany comedian on the court. I wondered if he was still alive but sadly found out that he passed away in 1991.

In the mid-1960s, I along with several of my classmates at the University of Tennessee, had the misfortune of having chemistry lab on Saturday afternoons, often during key sporting events.

Sometimes we would hurry through our experiments, scurry across campus and find a place to sit, usually on the floor at Stokely Athletics Center. This was especially meaningful if we knew that Lou Bello would be on there. 

The Man Himself – Lou Bella Officiating a Basketball Game

Bello, who became one of North Carolina's most colorful sports figures, was an uninhibited game official and would do anything to get a chuckle from the many fans. He successfully blended seriousness with foolishness, depending on the situation.

If a game was out of reach, you simply quit watching the contest and began focusing on “Lou.” Either way, you got your money's worth of entertainment.

A 1947 graduate of Duke University, Bella began officiating games in Duke's intramural program and later became a basketball official in the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Southern conferences.

He also officiated college and high school football and baseball games and was a Carolina League umpire from 1949 until 1952. He was a teacher in the Wake County, NC schools from 1950 to 1958 and again in 1966.

“Lou is all referee and part clown,” said Horace “Bones” McKinney, Wake Forest University's basketball coach from 1958 to 1965. “He had as good a judgment in it as anybody refereeing during my time. When I saw him walk out on the court, I was not concerned. I knew I would get as good a shake as anyone.” Lou practiced fairness.

“Lou was also very sensitive,” Mr. McKinney said.” If he thought he had hurt the coach with a missed call, it would bother him afterwards.”

Dean Smith, former head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a statement: “Lou was one of the great sports personalities in North Carolina, first as an official, then as a radio commentator and finally a fan of sports, particularly basketball.”

Lou got along with all the coaches and players, and when the game became one-sided, he'd kid around without embarrassing the losing team.

Mr. Bella stood out among the relatively anonymous group because of his antics. When crowds booed his introduction, he would simply bow,  applaud himself and ask for more. When fans threw pennies at him, he pocketed as many as he could find and then pleaded for half dollars.

Sports officials who refereed many games alongside Lou enjoyed his partner's unique humor. But they also saw his serious side. Lou worked every game as if it were the ACC, NBA or state championship.

Once before a game at Oxford Orphanage, Lou told his co-officials to work the game as serious as if it were the Super Bowl. He explained that this game was very important to the kids. He had a heart for youngsters.

Mr. Bella kept things lively and light. He had a great capacity to make people laugh by putting on a show. He did it in close games too, at least for a while.

People who attended Stokely Athletics Center always got their money's worth and more. At some expected moment, usually after a fowl call, Lou would come down the court galloping like a horse, blow his whistle and make funny comments about the call. He was probably the only official in the country who could get by with such unusual conduct. The crowd loved it.

When my mind drifts back to my University of Tennessee years, I usually see Lou Bello standing right in the middle of the court with a sly, silly grin on his face. He was one of a kind and he knew it. Sadly, he “fouled” out far too early in the “game.”

“Thank you, Lou, for the memories; you were absolutely a hoot. You have not been forgotten. We need more like you in this life.”

 It has been 55 years since he entertained me and I still remember him as if it were yesteryear.

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A total of 12 Thanksgiving Day Burley Bowl games were played between 1945 and 1956, with the East Tennessee State Buccaneers participating in five of them: 1952 through 1956. They won the first four games but lost the fifth one to Memphis State. This much-anticipated event consisted of a parade held in downtown Johnson City in mid-morning, followed by a football game at Roosevelt (Memorial) Stadium on E. Main Street that afternoon.

The 1953 ETSC annual offered details of the eighth annual game in 1952 between the Emory and Henry Wasps and the Buccaneers:

Buccaneer Squad

“Before a crowd of 10,000, the Bucs rallied from a 3-0 first quarter deficit to almost completely dominate the entire game. The turning point came when Henderson blocked Long’s kick, giving the Bucs possession of the ball on the Emory 17-yard line.

“A pass from Crumley to Morrison fell incomplete, but on the next play, Ford plowed his way to the Wasp 13. Lloyd raced to the five and Saulsbury scored to put the Bucks ahead 6-3. Morrison’s conversion gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead. From this point, the home team made a mockery of the one-touchdown-favored Wasps. Tackle Bryan recovered an Emory fumble on their own 35 to set up another score. Poe crashed over from the six-yard line to give State a 10-point lead.

1945 Burley Bowl Football Game Ticket

DeFillipo pounced on a second Emory fumble on the Wasp 33. Crumley raced to the Wasp 11 and, on the next play, hit Ford for the third touchdown. After a 65-yard drive, Horwatt tossed a pass to Howard in the end zone to cut the Bucs lead to 20-10. At no time did they seem to let up in their determination.

“Poe took the Emory kick-off and rushed from his own 17 yard line to the opponent's 34. Ford dashed to the Emory 29 as followers of the Wasps groaned audible. Lloyd, Crumley and Ford then moved to a first down on the 19. Morrison, on an end-around, got to the 15 and Crumley advanced the ball to the 10. On the next play, Crumley raced to pay dirt. After Morrison’s extra point kick, the Bucs’ 27-10 lead removed any hope Emory might have had.

“The Wasps opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown from the one-foot line to make the score 27-16. Matlock repeatedly kept the Wasps deep in their own territory with his booming toe, which averaged 37 yards. In the final minutes of play, Ford scored from the three yard line after State had taken possession of the ball on the five yard line due to Emory’s illegal receiver down field. Morrison kicked the extra point and ETSC came out of its first Burley Bowl appearance with a resounding victory.”

1953 Buccaneers at Snowy Roosevelt Stadium

The 1954 annual provided specifics of the ninth annual game in 1953 also between Emory and Henry Wasps and the ETSC Buccaneers: “The Bucs’ first touchdown came early when the Wasps’ Long, back to kick on his own 35, received a bad pass from center, decided to run and lost two yards. The Bucks took over at that point. Ford took a pitch-out and swept around right end for the score. Morrison missed the extra point.

“The Buccaneers struck again when Porter recovered an Emory and Henry fumble on the Wasps 24. Pete “The Arm” Wilson tossed a pass to Hal “Glue Fingers” Morrison in the end zone for the second touchdown. Morrison’s kick for the extra point made the score 13-0. In the second period, Wilson, on his 34, handed off to Saulsbury who went all the way to the Wasps’ 12. Several plays later, “The Arm” passed to Foster who went over for the touchdown. Morrison’s extra point made it 20-0.

1953 Buccaneers on the Sidelines

“State’s longest run came in the third period when Foster took a Wasp punt on his own 30 and scampered 70 yards to score. Morrison kicked the extra point through the uprights and East Tennessee State was out front 34-0. The final touchdown was the lengthiest. Emory and Henry’s Bob Haney intercepted an attempted lateral by State on their own 11-yard line and churned off 89 yards for the touchdown. That made the final score read 48-12.

“Standouts in the Buc forward wall were Jim Huddle, Bob Porter and Hal Morrison. Sparkplugs in the Buccaneer backfield were Pete Wilson, Jerry Ford and Buddy Saulsbury.”

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In March, 1954, the Press-Chronicle launched its sixth annual “Johnson City Cardinals (Appalachian League) Batboy Contest.” Four judges, Ralph Cox, Tom Lyons, Bill Miller and Jimmy Smyth, selected six boys as finalists: Joe Ward Booth, Sammy Broyles, Bill Dyer, Dana Lyon, Ronnie Rickman and Richard Teaster.

The Six Semifinalists of the 1954 Johnson City Cardinals Batboy Contest

Each youngster was asked to identify his favorite baseball player. The final score was Stan Musial 3, Yogi Berra 2. Johnson City's own Billy Joe Bowman received the sixth vote. 

The Cardinals management through president, Carl A. Jones, and business manager, Ralph Cox, issued a statement praising the boys who submitted applications and essays. It acknowledged the many fine entries and regretted that they couldn't use a couple dozen more batboys.

After that, it was time for the public to pick a winner by filling out a ballot that was printed in the newspaper and mailing it to the Press-Chronicle office.  The paper urged its readers to get their ballot back to them before the April 9 noon deadline. The winner was to be announced in the paper the next day. Below are abbreviated excerpts from the essays of the six finalists:

Joe Ward Booth: “I would like to be batboy for the Cardinals because I would like to become a Cardinal baseball player when I finish school. A batboy has a wonderful opportunity of developing himself, morally, physically, mentally and socially. This would be a step toward being a professional baseball player.”

Sammy Broyles: “Baseball is my favorite sport. I have played baseball for the Little League for three years and liked it very much. If I am chosen as batboy, it would give me a better chance to learn more about baseball and to learn all of the rules and regulations.”

Bill Dyer: “I would like to be the batboy for the Johnson City Cardinals this year because I like baseball. I would like to learn all I can about baseball. I am also interested in becoming a professional ball player someday. I am 15 years old and always like to go to the ball games.”

Dana Lyon: “I wish to learn more about baseball and know the players better. Besides wanting to know more about professional baseball, I would use the money I receive to buy school clothes and books for next year. Being batboy would be more than a job to me. It would be responsibility, which I would work hard at trying to do my very best.”

Ronnie Rickman: “My greatest ambition is to play baseball in the Cardinals organization. I have played baseball in both the Little and Little Bigger leagues and feel that being the Cardinals batboy would help me in my playing. I have a great love of baseball and keep up with all the Cardinals games. I would consider it an honor to be chosen.”

Richard Teaster: “I would like to be the Red Birds' batboy because it would teach me to become a good sport and sportsmanship is very essential to an athlete.  I would like to learn about fielding, pitching and batting. I would like to have the proud feeling of beating a top team, someone hitting a home run, a pitcher pitching a shutout or a no-hitter. I would like to share their every thrill.”

All six finalists were awarded prizes. First prize was, of course, to be batboy for one year. Second prize was a season ticket to all games plus an autographed baseball and bat. The third winner received a ticket to the opening game, a hat, a ball and an autographed picture of the 1953 Cardinals. Fourth, fifth and six accolades consisted of an opening day ticket, an autographed baseball and a picture of the 1953 Cardinals. 

Thanks to several of my readers who correctly identified the winner of the batboy contest as Joe Ward Booth.

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In October 1938, an unidentified outdoorsman, whom I will call Jim, joined a hearty group of fellow hunters on what was billed as a cross-country marathon boar hunt on the Unaka Mountains in the hills of East Tennessee. One of the men, Ben Ellis, served as guide for the party. The rugged trip was said to offer the thrill of the chase, the beauty of the mountains at stunning peak fall colors and, if successful, from 60 to 150 pounds of the most scrumptious pork imaginable.

European boars, introduced as game animals in the early 1900s, thrived in Southern Appalachia but were generally considered a nuisance because they destroyed plants and robbed food resources from bears.

The hardy outdoorsmen left at the crack of dawn and traveled up the Tellico River into Cherokee National Forest. Just before 9:00 a.m., they stumbled down a steep trail to the bank of the river and ended up with their first reward – a 150-pound tusker that they slung on a pole between them. The hunters then parked their car a few paces from where the Bald River plunged over a cliff to join the waters of the Tellico and followed a trail that winded far above the Bald.

Prussian boars in the Cherokee Forest were said to be able to run 60 miles in one stretch. When they were rested, they could sail over hills and through timberland with little effort. But when pressed closely, a bewildered hog often turned and gave battle with the hounds, affording the hunter an opportunity to get close enough for a shot.

While they followed Ellis up the steep slope, they observed that the dogs had passed over the crest and were out of hearing distance. It seemed as though they would never reach the top, but they finally made it and paused for a moment to catch their breath and listen for any sign of the dogs. About that time, a faint yelp was heard in the distance.

The boys continued their journey into Cow Camp Hollow, tearing openings through patches of briars. When they were almost in sight of the dogs, the pack ceased baying and took up the trail again. Their prize had taken to his heels and that they had to make another dash after him. They crossed the little creek and climbed to the opposite side of the hollow.

Jim began experiencing sharp shooting pains that ran through his body causing him to fight off the desire to sit down and give up. When the group finally climbed the top, they were wet with perspiration. After a brief rest, there came the welcome chorus of the hounds indicating they had cornered an elusive boar once again.

Presently, the hunters came to a small clearing in the center that contained a growth of blackberry briars. On the far side of the patch the dogs had the hog at bay, but before one hunter could fetch his gun, the hog made a break for the timber with one of the hounds between him and the hog, putting the canine in harm’s way.

The huntsman couldn't run another step, choosing instead to walk through the woods on a fairly level stretch of ground to the edge of Cow Camp Hollow. About that time, the dogs came tearing around the mountainsides; the faithful old hounds had brought the boar back and were now chasing him straight down into the hollow below them.

Jim somehow managed to navigate his way through the tangled mess of undergrowth. He stumbled upon Ben who was casually sitting on the bank of Cow Camp Creek watching the boar stand off the dogs. Ben handed Jim his weapon and graciously allowed him the honors. Jim steadied his trembling hands just enough to bring closure to the animal.

The journey back was about a half-mile up the mountainside and an equal distance down the opposite side to the road, but even with a heavy hog between them, they didn't mind the weight. Their hunting exhibition was a complete success.

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Dec. 15, 1973 was a cold Saturday night in Knoxville. My wife and I, along with our friends, Allen and Charlotte Stafford, drove there from Johnson City to see the Volunteers play the Temple Owls in the Volunteer Classic. We joined 11,700 others at the Stokely Athletics Center. The temperature inside would soon get as cold as it was outside. Allen and I pooled our recollections of that night for this column.

Ray Mears’ squad consisted of Ernie Grunfeld (f), Doug Ashworth (f), Austin Clark (f) Len Kosmalski (c), David Moss (f), Bill Seale (f), John Snow (g), Wayne Tomlinson (f), Rodney Woods (g), Mike Jackson (g), David Mitchell (g), David Smith (g) and Vinnie Tracey (f).

Tennessee came into the game with impressive wins at South Florida (117-90) and DePaul (96-61). Temple brought with them three wins and one loss. Don Casey, first year Temple Coach, was concerned about his team beating Tennessee. Therefore, he devised a strategy for the match.

With 11:44 minutes into the contest with Tennessee leading 7-5, Casey made his move. He placed two of his best players about 28 feet from the goal and positioned them five feet apart. They began dribbling the ball and passing it back and forth with no attempt to throw it to anyone else or attempt to score. Ray Mears, not to be outdone by his rival, instructed his players to go to a 2-3 zone defense and stay there.

This was before the days of a shot clock. Casey’s idea was to force Tennessee to come out and try to retrieve the ball, opening up his best shooters to score. As time ensued, the crowd wondered how long this repetitiveness would continue. The fans’ demeanor quickly turned from disbelief to anger. They paid to see a competitive basketball game, not two guys passing a ball back and forth.

Despite the crowd’s constant ranting, Temple held the ball until the first half ended and exited the court to a barrage of boos. They trailed by only two points.

The second half opened with more of the same. By now, the crowd became much more vocal and hostile, tossing ice and trash onto the floor, causing game delays. Security was beefed up in the building, including positioning additional police officers behind the Temple bench. 

Mears, visibly agitated by the goings on, yelled several times at the Owls to start playing real basketball. Casey responded by challenging the Vols to come out of their zone and get them. The two coaches were in a stubborn stalemate with neither one giving in.  

John Ward, the “Voice of the Vols, somehow managed to keep his listeners glued to their radios that night. Surprisingly, few fans left the game early because, as boring as it was, everyone anxiously wanted to see a Tennessee win. The four us certainly had no inclination to leave.

Although Temple did not give the Vols a single shot from the field in the second half, John Snow made four free throws to preserve an 11-6 Tennessee win. Kosmalski was the Big Orange’s leading scorer with five points. Temple held the ball for about 32 minutes of the 40-minute game.

Ed Bowling, school president, instructed the Vols to play an intra-squad game to appease the crowd. The four of us moved to the center section for better seats. Most of the crowd showed little interest in an exhibition game and began a mass exit. The game was quickly cancelled.

Reportedly, when the two coaches met after the finale, Mears informed Casey that he would never be invited back to Knoxville as long as he was coach. The game would go down in Tennessee sports history as the lowest scoring college game of the modern era.

Although the NBA had a shot clock as far back as 1954, it did not infiltrate the college ranks until the 1985-86 season when a 45-second one was adopted. Eight years later, it was reduced to 35 seconds.

As a parting shot to a wasted night, I mailed our two ticket stubs to the Temple Athletic Department requesting a full refund of the “game.” I am still patiently waiting for it.  

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The recent firing of Derek Dooley as head football coach at the University of Tennessee brought to mind another gridiron coach from the college’s yesteryear. 

On January 24, 1951, the University of Tennessee gave 58-year-old football coach, General Robert Reece Neyland, a lifetime contract after his team won 10 games that season, lost one to Mississippi State and upset Texas 20-14 in the Cotton Bowl. Tennessee scored 315 points to their opponents’ 57, placing the Vols fourth in the country in the final Associated Press poll.

Robert Neyland Playing Card; Bill Britton, Neyland, Paul Parker

Although Neyland's annual salary was not made public, speculation placed the figure at $16,500 plus an additional $2,500 for expenses, making him one of collegiate football’s highest paid coaches. He was a disciple of the old single-wing formation.

In announcing the extension of the coach’s contract, Nathan Dougherty, chairman of the Athletic Council, said, “Our agreement with General Neyland ensures that he will remain at Tennessee for the remainder of his athletic career.” The coach responded, “I'm very happy to remain at Tennessee because I’ve always wanted to stay here.”

Neyland came to Tennessee from West Point in 1925 as a military science instructor and assistant football coach, becoming an overnight success. His Volunteers won eight games and lost one that year. In the next six years, Tennessee won 51 games, lost one and tied five. Neyland's overall record in 19 campaigns was 154 wins, 24 losses and 11 ties. Skillful blocking and tackling became trademarks under Neyland’s balanced single-wing system.

As a major in the Army engineers, Neyland went to the Panama Canal Zone in 1935. Although he retired the next year and returned to Tennessee, the Army summoned him back to active duty in May 1941. He served a five-year stretch, retiring with the rank of general.

In 1951, it was common knowledge that the general wanted one more outstanding season before he quit active coaching and relegate himself upstairs at Tennessee. That desire was to include an unbeaten and untied season plus a bowl game victory, allowing him to invoke the lifetime clause of his contract and retire as athletic director and advisory coach. Neyland, then 59, had accomplished this only once during his 21 seasons at Tennessee. That occurred in 1938, when the Vols dumped 10 regular season opponents, yielding only 16 points while piling up 276 and then trimming Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl 17-0.

Tennessee went on to beat Texas in the 1951 Cotton Bowl 20-14, but lost in the Rose Bowl, twice in the Sugar Bowl and again in the Orange Bowl. Neyland made it known that he was ready to retire from the sport.

In 1952, the general, who lived modestly on an income reported to be $25,000 a year, owned a $200,000 plus home at Sarasota, Fla., where he fished after every football season. He made no bones about wanting to retire within a few years. Neyland's mantle as head coach was expected to transfer to balding Harvey Robinson, his offensive coach and Tennessee quarterback in the 1930s.

Whenever a longhaired musician hit town, Robinson, an accomplished pianist, was present as an enthralled spectator. Neyland, famous for his “bull” victory roars, was strictly from the big band era of Vaughn Monroe and Spike Jones. Robinson was more communicative than the general. Neyland shunned publicity, never appeared on television or radio and granted only a few cautious interviews. He vehemently rejected all offers for ghostwritten articles bearing his signature.

Neyland’s coaching finale occurred after the 1952 season. On advice of his doctor, he asked the university to relieve him of his coaching duties, which they did. He remained as athletic director. As expected, Harvey Robinson got the nod to become Tennessee’s new coach. The 70-year old general died on March 28, 1962. Today, the stadium and road behind it proudly bears his name. 

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I have been a big fan of University of Tennessee football for 46 years, attending at least one game at Neyland Stadium most of that time either as student or alumni. In the spring of 2011, my wife and I reluctantly did not renew our two Section O, Row 51 season tickets.

In spite of this, I firmly believe that even with high definition flat screen television, there is no comparison to savoring the exhilaration of the crowd at the game, something TV cannot offer.

Today’s column is a look back at almost a half-century of “Football Time in Tennessee” memories that produce a lump in my throat when I think about them. Hang on:

Attending games with our close friends, Allen and Charlotte Stafford; enjoying pre-game entertainment on Cumberland Avenue; eating an open-fire grilled hamburger at Gus Campus’s Varsity Inn; occasionally eating uptown at the S&W Cafeteria before it closed in 1981; enjoying the view of boaters as they navigate the Tennessee River to the stadium; munching on rare big orange-flavored moon pies that were handed out to the crowd;  …

Getting excited over 32-year-old Doug Dickey as he takes the reigns as head coach of the Vols; admiring other favorite head coaches: Bill Battle, Johnny Majors, Phil Fulmer; and Derek Dooley; recalling such outstanding quarterbacks as Dewey “Swamp Rat” Warren, Bobby Scott, Condredge Holloway, Jimmy Streater, Heath Shuler, Peyton Manning, Tee Martin and Casey Clausen to name a few; …

Observing Alabama’s quarterback, Joe Namath, in 1964 as he concludes his final collegiate year; beating the Crimson Tide in 1982 just a couple months before Coach Bryant’s untimely death; cheering as the goal posts collapse after beating a heavily favored opponent; watching the stadium grow to 108,000 seats and then lose some of it due to modernization; hearing a hot dog vendor selling his product by yelling, “yummy, yummy, yummy, for your tummy, tummy, tummy”; seeing Colonel Sanders make a surprise visit …

Riding a trolley car to watch Tennessee beat Air Force at the 1971 Tulane Stadium Sugar Bowl; attending several Citrus Bowl games in Orlando; singing “Rocky Top” a zillion times; cheering as the players, coaches, cheerleaders and Smokey charge through the band formed “T”; seeing a new Smokey occasionally take over the leash; …

Enjoying a Tennessee Walking Horse’s majestic four-beat “running walk” around the field before a game; hearing a cannon being fired from a grassy knoll on “The Hill” after each touchdown and field goal score; later enjoying the same ritual from fireworks positioned across the Tennessee River; carrying a battery powered radio to the game to tap into John Ward and Bill Anderson’s outstanding play-by-play and commentary of the games; …

Looking to the skies waiting for military planes to fly formations over the stadium; gazing skyward while paratroopers jump onto Shields-Watkins field; participating in the “wave” as it flows like a river around the stadium; hearing my favorite cheer, “T, E, Double N, E, Double S, Double E, Tennessee”; getting soaked to the bone numerous times by downpours in the stadium; attending frigid games dressed warmly to support my favorite orange and white team; …

Seeing the field transition from natural sod to artificial turf and back to grass; listening to George Bitzas electrifying the crowd with his incredible vocal rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”; enjoying halftime shows with such entertainers as Charlie Daniels, Lee Greenwood, John Denver and the Osborne Brothers; applauding Dr. Julian’s “Pride of the Southland Band” as it performs “circle drills”; seeing former players and coaches introduced at halftime …

Going to the Smokies after a fall game to enjoy the colors; fighting the crowd to get away from the stadium; observing game officials being quickly escorted away from the campus in a police cruiser; battling traffic to get on the Interstate and, if that wasn’t enough, listening to the post game call-in radio show during the drive home.

This and much more was truly … “Football Time in Tennessee.” I will miss it.

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Louis Feathers, an occasional contributor to my column, is particularly proud of the fact that he is a fifth cousin to Herman Michael Hickman and William Beattie Feathers, two former University of Tennessee football standouts. Anybody knowledgeable of Big Orange football is familiar with the two names. Louis wrote about them in his 195-page autobiography.

Herman Hickman (left) and Beattie Feathers

Hickman was born on October 1, 1911 in Johnson City. His parents, Herman M. and Ossie Feathers Hickman, lived on W. Unaka and later moved to Highland Avenue. Both athletes played on early 1930s teams that were coached by Robert Neyland for whom the stadium is named. The two of them were on the 1930 squad that won nine games and lost one, remarkably outscoring their opponents 209 to 31. Both athletes were named All-Conference and All-America.

According to Louis, “Hickman was a lineman (guard) who gained fame in sports as well as other fields. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and made All-America in his senior year at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest to attain the honor. He played three years for the Brooklyn Dodgers (football) and was a professional wrestler, known as the “Tennessee Terror.”

After serving as an assistant football coach at North Carolina State and Wake Forest, the 300-pound “Friar Tuck” appearing athlete was hired as line coach for Army in the mid 1940s, the days of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard (known as Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside). The Army team won three National Championships during this period.

In 1948, Herman became Head Coach at Yale before retiring in 1951. Grantland Rice, a noted sports writer of the time, called him the best guard in football history. Because of his keen intellect and outgoing personality, he became a panelist on “Celebrity Time,” a popular television game show in the 1950s and “The Herman Hickman Show,” a 15-minute sports program. Later, he developed into a public speaker. Louis said he was privileged to hear him speak at a General Electric function in Cincinnati. The football great next turned to writing, which included a column, “Herman’s Hunches,” for Sports Illustrated and a book, The Herman Hickman Reader. The “Terror” died in 1958 at the age of 47.

Feathers next turned the subject to Beattie Feathers who lived in Bristol, Virginia. He played football in an era when team members played both offense and defense. His main position was as a triple-threat halfback, meaning he could run, pass or punt. In 1933, his senior year, he was named All-American. The following year, he joined the Chicago Bears where he became the first NFL player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He amassed 1,004 yards in 101 carries, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, while missing two games during the season. In 1938-39, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers NFL team. A year later, which was his last season, he played for the Green Bay Packers. 

Louis further added, “Beattie was later inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, which is apparently different from the NFL Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio. Years later, he coached football and baseball.”

Finally, Feathers commented on the Vol skipper, General Neyland, a 1916 graduate of West Point and career army officer. He came to the University of Tennessee in 1925 as Professor of Military Science and Tactics of the ROTC Unit and also served as the Assistant Coach of the football Team. In 1935, the Army sent him to Panama and a year later he retired from the Army and returned to UT as football coach. Except for the war years, Neyland remained as that position through the 1952 season when he was made Athletic Director at U.T. His overall record at the school was an amazing 173 wins, 31 losses and 12 ties. He had bragging rights to six SEC and four national championships.

A trip to Neyland Stadium is a constant reminder of this great coach from the annals of yesteryear. 

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I received three responses pertaining to my recent columns concerning the 1925 Ford motorcar and the 1939 SHHS football season.

Murvin H. Perry wrote, “The public anticipation of the introduction of the ‘New Fords’ occurred in 1927 as Ford geared up to present the Model A, which came out as a 1928 model. People referred to the Model A as the ‘new Ford’ rather than its model designation. Also, the new car you describe as a 1925 model was really the 1926 Model T. It may have been introduced in 1925, but the features you enumerate – nickel plated radiator shell, gas tank in the cowl, crowned fenders, 29 x 4.40 balloon tires – appeared in the 1926 model. Balloon tires were an option in 1925, but the standard tire was the 30 x 3½ on a clincher rim.”

I checked my Sept. 16, 1925 newspaper source for the article. It spoke of a Ford showroom frenzy that year. Perhaps it continued to 1927 or resurfaced. Based on Murv’s note, the Fords showcased in the fall of 1925 were definitely 1926 models. Perry is a hands-on vintage Ford restorer and author of Murv’s Motoring Memories (Overmountain Press), a nostalgic collection of old-car memories.”

The next contributor was an anonymous John Doe: “Your article today on the 1939 Hilltoppers got my attention, especially since the Science Hill – Erwin High game wasn't mentioned. I noticed the article you were using was published on Nov. 22 and the Erwin game was played on Nov. 17 so that may explain the missing information. Erwin High was 9-2-1 in 1938 with the tie being a 7-7 game with, guess who, Science Hill. Erwin was 5-4-1 in 1939 going into the game with Science Hill.”

Mr. Doe then quoted from Lou Thornberry’s out-of-print book, “Remembering Old Erwin”: “Johnson City received 1,500 reserved tickets from Erwin High to sell during the week of the game. Additional blenchers were set up at Gentry Stadium to accommodate an expected 5,000 fans for the game. A crowd of 4,000 football fans turned out for the big game. The Blue Devils got off to a quick start as they recovered a Johnson City fumble on the Toppers' 21-yard line on the first series of plays. The Devils picked up one first down at the 11-yard line, but that was as close as they got to scoring. In fact that was the only first down the Devils earned all night.

“Johnson City scored their first touchdown in the first quarter. The Hilltoppers moved into Devil territory after a poor punt by the home team. With the ball on Erwin's 29-yard line, the Toppers pulled off one of their own trick plays. Fred Dulaney took the ball from center and ‘shoveled’ the ball to Kermit Tipton, who then lateraled the ball to Jack Osborne, who sprinted to the end zone. The extra point attempt was blocked by the Devils.

“The only other score came in the third quarter, again by Science Hill. Those six points came from a Kermit Tipton pass of twelve yards to Gayle Cox in the end zone. The Hilltoppers blanked Erwin 12-0 to tie Kingsport for the Big Five title. The report in the Johnson City paper noted that Erwin tried the ‘sleeper play’ twice, but the Toppers detected the play both times. That the Blue Devils failed to score against the Toppers was not too surprising. Johnson City's defense only allowed one touchdown all season and that was in a non-conference game at Mountain City.” 

I agree with you that the Hilltop article was written before the season ended and the Erwin game was omitted.

Carolyn Peoples Guinn: “I am the daughter of Jack Peoples. You mentioned Daddy in your Nov. 1, 2010 article about the 1939 SHHS football team. My brother, Alf Peoples, and I cannot locate Daddy in that photo.”

Sorry, I should have caught that. The Hilltop article was printed in Nov. 1939 while the photo came from the May 1939 Wataugan depicting the 1938 football squad. The correct 1939 team photo is shown above. 

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