Mattingly: Vols' uniform has been anything but

Tennessee's C.J. Fayton gets past UNLV safety Joe Miklos in September of 2004 to score a touchdown on a 42-yard pass from Erik Ainge in the first quarter. The score put the Vols up 14-3 and was the first TD pass by Ainge as a Vol.

Photo by Jeff Adkins, News Sentinel

Tennessee's C.J. Fayton gets past UNLV safety Joe Miklos in September of 2004 to score a touchdown on a 42-yard pass from Erik Ainge in the first quarter. The score put the Vols up 14-3 and was the first TD pass by Ainge as a Vol.

I don't mind it being in here for one game," the unknown groundskeeper quoted Spurrier saying, "but we have recruits coming in January 13, and I want that checkerboard out of there.

Analyst Pat Haden

Throughout the recorded history of Tennessee football, a number of things have happened that make for great conversation whenever Vol fans might get together, in person or on the chat boards.

When Tennessee accepted an invitation to play Virginia Tech in the 1994 Gator Bowl, the stadium in Jacksonville was under construction, so the game was moved . . . to Florida Field/Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

It is a tradition of bowl games that each team is honored, one in each end zone. One of the strangest sights of this or any other year was the trademark orange and white checkerboard in the north end zone. As the "home team," Tennessee also used the Gators' dressing room.

As for the checkerboard end zone, analyst Pat Haden noted on the WTBS broadcast that Steve Spurrier had some definite thoughts about the Vol squares being seen on the Florida greensward.

"I was talking to the groundskeeper before this game," Haden said during the telecast.

"I don't mind it being in here for one game," the unknown groundskeeper quoted Spurrier saying, "but we have recruits coming in January 13, and I want that checkerboard out of there."

There is no doubt the checkerboard vanished quickly, maybe mere hours after the game.

When Tennessee and UNLV squared off in the season opener Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004, the Vols wore their "throwback jerseys," the white shirts with the orange collar used for eight road games between 1971-73. For the first time since the 1976 Ole Miss game, the visiting team came out in its home uniforms.

Occasionally, there are times uniforms look too much alike.

When Tennessee and Virginia met on homecoming 1980, you could forgive Vol fans for rubbing their eyes when Tennessee came out in orange shirts and orange pants, and the Cavaliers showed up in white shirts and orange pants. The lack of color contrast didn't seem to bother Virginia. The Cavaliers won 16-13.

The 1969 home finale against Vanderbilt showcased Tennessee wearing orange jerseys and Vanderbilt in their bright gold shirts. It was a sunny November day in Knoxville, and the jerseys looked nearly identical. From the stands, only the helmets, Tennessee in white and Vandy in gold, really differentiated the teams.

Vanderbilt head coach Bill Pace suggested, ever so gently, that Tennessee would wear its white jerseys in 1970 in Nashville. That didn't happen. It was an overcast day. Vandy apparently had darkened its jerseys ever so slightly, and all was well. Tennessee, as was its custom, did wear orange, and did win.

A year later, the Vols started wearing white on the road when called for by SEC, later NCAA, rules.

Speaking of jerseys, LSU wore its purple jerseys in 1989 and 1992 games against Tennessee at Tiger Stadium, again per NCAA rules. It looked a little strange for those of us used to seeing LSU in white at home.

When the Vols went to Baton Rouge in 2000, the rules had changed, with LSU now wearing the traditional white shirts. White shirts or not, LSU pulled out an overtime victory.

In the 1996 Citrus Bowl, Northwestern wore black shirts and purple pants, making a serious sartorial statement unmatched in Tennessee football history. The Vols wore the more conventional white shirts and white pants, winning 48-28, despite blowing a 21-0 lead.

There was a time Vol fans had considered the white shirts a "jinx," citing losses to Texas in the 1953 Cotton Bowl (16-0), Alabama (35-0 in 1963), and Texas again in the 1969 Cotton Bowl (36-13) as "evidence."

The most radical Tennessee uniform came with the "Halloween jerseys" of 1963, orange with black numbers, uniforms that weren't a big hit. They went gently into that good night at the end of the season. A 5-5 season and a new coach in town the next season helped make that happen.

Then there's the weather. In 2001, severe weather at Arkansas sent the teams to the dressing room, first during warm-ups and then again in the first half. Vol wide receiver Kelley Washington, just off a stint in pro baseball, had an astute observation: In baseball, the teams would just go home or to the hotel and play a doubleheader the next day.

With more than 70,000 fans in the stands from all parts of Tennessee and Arkansas, it was just a matter of waiting it out. After the Vols won 13-3, Tennessee's charter flight arrived home around 6 a.m. Sunday.

These unique happenings on the gridiron have contributed to a long and glorious tradition, happening often enough just to catch everybody's attention. You're not likely to see an orange and white checkerboard in either end zone on Florida Field any time soon. Nor should you ever see the "Halloween uniforms," except possibly in another "throw-back" game.

Tom Mattingly is the author of "The Tennessee Football Vault: The Story of the Tennessee Volunteers, 1891-2006" (2006), available in second edition at fine bookstores, and "Tennessee Football: The Peyton Manning Years" (1998). Comments may be sent to tjmshm@comcast.net. His News Sentinel blog is called "The Vol Historian."

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Comments » 28

RockyTop writes:

I like the throwback white jerseys with the orange across the shoulders.

dvhill100 writes:

Fun article. Interesting to read these little nuggets of information on UT's past.

onevol writes:

Left off incident about the 1965 Bluebonnet game about the weather and 2 teams and 3 uniforms. Anyone remember?

ArealVolFan writes:

in response to DCFloridaGator:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

gotta say, I do love the cleats. Not sure I want to see the throwback jerseys again though lol.

PrideOfTheSouthlandBand writes:

I loved the throwback jersey's and the away jersey's from the UCLA game last year. I wouldn't mind a little modernization to the home unis. Maybe some white accents or something. We have some freshness going on with the team, that frankly we haven't had in 40 years. Why not make everyone see it. I'm not saying drastic changes, but some can't hurt much. Who knows it could be the uniforms that go down in history as the biggest upset jerseys of all time when we knock off the Gators.

oasis3#214380 writes:

In the 1965 Bluebonnet Bowl it rained all day long and the field was a muddy mess. I remember that UT wore orange jerseys and Tulsa changed their muddy jerseys at halftime to a different color. They wore blue during one half and white during the other, but I cannot remember which half they wore each one.

Seriouslyorange writes:

Throwback jerseys...ok..........black jerseys that are getting suggested of late.....throw up.
This is Tennessee...orange and white period. When a game dictates otherwise, go for it , but no black jerseys. Also, CLK please wear a bit more orange, we love you now but we might love you more with some more orange on.

Volsfanstuckintx writes:

Really off topic but Josh Selby the #2 sg in the country has decommited from the vols.

DennisVols writes:

Anyone remember the tear-away jersey's? I use to have one wore by Terry Moore during a game. There was not much left just great memories.

volhome#407234 writes:

And speaking of bad decisions, PLEASE never go back to the wide stripe pants look. Only one play will ever stand out as good in those and that is Jason Witten's overtime catch for a TD with the raised #1 finger as he stopped cold in the end zone. Otherwise, we looked like we were approaching the stupid swoopy unis that so many teams favor now, for whatever reason. Two stripes and a Power T on the pants, plain orange jersey with the white numerals. No better look in college athletics.
Oh, and I like the black shoes. Peyton wore them when here, and you don't get any better than that.

govols22231 writes:

What game was it in the 80's were UT wore orange cleats.

Slystone writes:

Instead of Black jerseys how about black pant with a orange and white stripe? Wear the white jersey with black trim around the numbers.

woodlandsvol writes:

in response to govols22231:

What game was it in the 80's were UT wore orange cleats.

I think that was an Alabama game but not sure what year. I recall is being orange "turf shoes".

BillsBrother writes:

in response to govols22231:

What game was it in the 80's were UT wore orange cleats.

It was definitely an Alabama game and the orange cleats have been in hiding ever since.

Caspian writes:

Black cleats. White socks. Narrow the width of the orange stripe and "T" on the helmet. Darken the shade of orange a little (looks too flourescent and too yellow sometimes). Travel jerseys - orange pants with white shirts - black outline on numbers. I'm open to a little more black trim somewhere else.

blitzshoot writes:

Don't be surprised if you see black pants and black jerseys with orange flair down the side of the pants.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Caspian:

Black cleats. White socks. Narrow the width of the orange stripe and "T" on the helmet. Darken the shade of orange a little (looks too flourescent and too yellow sometimes). Travel jerseys - orange pants with white shirts - black outline on numbers. I'm open to a little more black trim somewhere else.

Hey Sea, pms151 DOES have yellow in it. Keep the orange Tennessee orange. Don't mess with tradition.

Razzle writes:

in response to DCFloridaGator:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree. Ditch those black Li'l Abners and put some razzle dazzle on the feet.

StroVol writes:

I would like to see the stripe taken off helmet. Examle Texas

ktm589 writes:

Just a story getting everyone ready for a black out!!!!

Shazzon writes:

I believe the orange cleats were worn on the 3rd Saturday in October 1985.QB Tony Robinson was injured in the game,which ended his career,and replaced by Darrel Dickey.Our Vols went on to beat Bama ending a 10 or 11 game losing streak to the legendary Bear Bryant.That was Bryant's last season at Alabama.RIP.The Vols went to the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day and completly dominated heavily favored Miami.Bring back the orange cleats!

volhome#407234 writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ah, the trolls. Ever so cool that they have a place to go and play. Thinking back o'er the years I have to wonder, 'Would I ever spend time looking around on a Gator (or Tide, or Bulldog, et al) website just to stir the populace?'. Well, assuming I had been possessed as in the Exorcist, maybe. Or even moreso, had I their fetid ichor running though my veins, sure. As it is, thanks for the opportunity to NOT be you. It makes my day.

ajwlfw#574737 writes:

The first UT game I saw was in Memphis at old Crump Stadium in 1963. We played Ole Miss and and wore the Halloween jerseys with black numbers and black "UCLA" type stripes. I was in the 7th grade at the time and I thought the uniforms looked pretty cool. In the 1965 Bluebonnet Bowl, Tulsa wore blue jerseys the first half and white the second half. I like the all orange look. The first game I remember us wearing that combination was the 1977 Vanderbilt game.

dvols writes:

orange and white...

no more discussion.... thanks!

rpratt3 writes:

The first time I saw UT play football was in the late 50's. It was just a freshman game at Vanderbilt. But it left an impression on a 11 year kid. I always thought UT was more serious about football because of the tear away jerseys. When one of the jerseys were torn off by a tackler, the player would hulstle off the field to get another jersey put on him by one of the team managers.

mattingly writes:

If no one else will say it: "Hot."

DC_Vol writes:

in response to uf2006bcs1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Peyton Manning is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL or one of the best and Wuerffel was a career backup and is out of the league.

Peyton's NFL Awards

NFL awards
NFL MVP (2003 (shared with Steve McNair), 2004, 2008)[74]
Best NFL Player ESPY Award(2004,[35] 2005[157])
9× Pro Bowl Selection (1999–2000, 2002–2008)[40]
4× First-team All-Pro (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008)[75][90][97]
3× Second-team All-Pro (1999, 2000, 2006)[51][59][110]
Bert Bell Award (2003, 2004)[158]
1998 NFL All-Rookie First Team[40]
2004 AFC Offensive Player of the Year[74]
2004 Fedex Express Player of the Year[159]
2005 Best Record-Breaking Performance ESPY Award[157]
2005 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award[158]
2005 Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award[40]
2005 Pro Bowl MVP[74]
2007 Super Bowl MVP[107]
2007 Best Championship Performance ESPY Award[109]

Additionally, Manning has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month three times (9/2003, 11/2004, 10/2006) and Offensive Player of the Week on 19 occasions (18 AFC, 1 NFL/playoff).[39]

Wuerffel's NFL Awards

Nada, Zilch, Zero.

Just wanted to complete the story you began to tell. You left out the best part. LOL

kabzs writes:

Army went to cammo.

http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/2008...

We could use Big-Orange-Deer-Huntin Camo. Smokey is a huntin dog ain't he?
When the gators have their deer-in-the-headlights look, they'll never know what hit them.

(It's about as cockeyed as halloween costumes)

Go big Pumkins?
Go big Trick-or treaters?

Hell no, it's GO BIG ORANGE.

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