Ex-UT star Wilson starts relationship with Kiffins

Former linebacker won't 'have to choose' between old and new

Former University of Tennessee great Al Wilson didn't waste time on the football field, so it came as no surprise he made a bee-line for UT coach Lane Kiffin and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin after arriving back in Knoxville on Monday.

"We sat down and had a little meeting, and I talked to Lane and Monte Kiffin,'' Wilson said. "Lane is very relaxed and motivated by his job, and I'm excited about what he's bringing.''

Wilson, who after leading UT to the 1998 national championship made five NFL Pro Bowls as a middle linebacker during his eight-year career with the Denver Broncos, said it was good to look into Lane Kiffin's eyes.

"I think the thing I liked was his aura; you can be in the presence of a coach and just feel that,'' Wilson said. "I felt that today with Lane. He was very poised, and he was very straight forward.

"With him being a younger coach, I think he's able to relate to the kids, and that plays a big part.''

That said, Wilson made it clear where he stands with former UT coach Phillip Fulmer and defensive coordinator John Chavis.

"In my eyes, Coach Fulmer is the University of Tennessee; he's the standard all coaches from this day forward have to live up to,'' Wilson said. "I've always felt he was the best coach in the country and I still feel that way. He left a great legacy; look man, every good thing has to come to an end. Life throws you curve balls.

"But you don't have to choose between coaches. If you are a Vol fan, you're a Vol fan. If you're a true Tennessee fan you have to roll with the punches and change with the times.''

Wilson said he would not have made it into the NFL without Chavis.

"You know how I feel about Chief, he's my man, and he's the guy who made me and helped me blossom as a player mentally and physically,'' Wilson said. "He instilled the things in me that allowed me to go to the next level. He taught me the game, the technique, and what it took to be a leader.''

Wilson feels comfortable that Monte Kiffin will bring much of the same to the current and future Vols.

"I think Monte is unbelievable, and I see why people want to play for him,'' Wilson said. "He's a players coach, he's straight-forward and he tells you like it is.

"I'd love to play under Monte Kiffin. He's established himself already as a great coach, and I think Tennessee will get back to that upper echelon.''

Wilson said he didn't ask the Kiffins many questions, but he told them a few things.

"I told them about the tradition,'' Wilson said, "and I told them what I felt about it and what I wanted them to bring back to the university.''

Wilson said he's ready to get behind whatever changes the Kiffins feel they need to make - even if it meant going away from some traditions.

"Black jerseys? I'm a realist about the situation,'' Wilson said. "It's a new age and a new day, and these kids love to play in black and do different things.

"I'm all for it; it helps the kids get a different type of energy.''

Tennessee has not issued any information indicating the Vols would wear black, but Wilson said he has thought about the concept before.

Wilson played in Denver two seasons after the Broncos went away from their traditional orange uniforms and light blue helmets and immediately won two Super Bowls.

"Any time you change things up, in any aspect of life, it brings a different type of energy,'' Wilson said. "You give yourself something different, you feel a little different. I definitely think a uniform can help, but you still have to play the game.''

Few did it better than Wilson in 1998, lest anyone forget his 13 tackle, three-forced fumble game in the pivotal 20-17 overtime win against Florida that vaulted UT into national title contention.

"I'm just so happy to be back here,'' said Wilson, who is holding the youth Camp Explosion in Knoxville in July. "I'm anxious to be around the kids at the YMCA and give them some advice and encouragement.

"I grew up in YMCA clubs, and I know what those kids are growing through. I want to give a little something back.''

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 96

BigVolinCarolina writes:

If you're a Vol fan, you're a Vol fan. Well said, Al.

volsbats12 writes:

What an intense football loving guy he is. Glad he is a Vol

DennisVols writes:

Bring AL back as the Attitude Adjustment coach.

atomicvet62 writes:

Al will always be one of the greatest football players at Tennessee.
Al Wilson is Tennessee Football.
Go vOLS

golfballs03 writes:

Al Wilson. One of UT's all time best!! But let's not get carried away with Chavis... we still have to recruit against the guy

golfballs03 writes:

in response to DennisVols:

Bring AL back as the Attitude Adjustment coach.

It might be the best hire ever.

Volfan1 writes:

Wilson made it clear where he stands with former UT coach Phillip Fulmer and defensive coordinator John Chavis.

"In my eyes, Coach Fulmer is the University of Tennessee; he's the standard all coaches from this day forward have to live up to,'' Wilson said. "I've always felt he was the best coach in the country and I still feel that way. He left a great legacy; look man, every good thing has to come to an end. Life throws you curve balls.

"But you don't have to choose between coaches. If you are a Vol fan, you're a Vol fan. If you're a true Tennessee fan you have to roll with the punches and change with the times.''

Any of the whiners & dividers care to look Al Wilson in the eyes and argue with him about this? He is for Kiffin. That's great. He's for Fulmer. That's great....the way it should be. He nailed it....just like he did the opponents.

Come on, you Fulmer haters & Kiffin doubters...argue with Al. If you are a Vol fan, you are a Vol fan. Period. Thanks for the great word, Al.

marvinVol writes:

Damn!! What a guy!! A real Vol. I love it!

Go Vols!!!

kiffownsfla writes:

I wish we could get him on the staff a badazz vol one of the best ever GO AL!GO VOLS!

JLeon04 writes:

Al has always been one of my favorite Vols, maybe he is my favorite. I loved watching No. 27!!

the10sevol writes:

luv ya 27

smashmouth98 writes:

I love Big Al, my Favorite VOL of ALL TIME!!!!

What a STUD

DennisVols writes:

When Al looked over the line at a QB, the QB would shake so hard it was measured on the rector scale as an earthquake.
Mean-N-Nasty is what comes to mind when I think of how Al played defense.
E.B. is in the same mold. When either of them hit you, you felt it the next day as well.

bhjohnso#207063 writes:

I'm sure as heck not going to disagree with Al about the black jerseys to his face.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

Love The GENERAL. But don't do the black uniforms. It's BIG ORANGE COUNTRY!

ATLVOL23 writes:

Will never forget the win over Fla during the 98 champ season when Al was EVERYWHERE on defense. He's a true champion and true leader!

tums writes:

in response to DennisVols:

Bring AL back as the Attitude Adjustment coach.

No kidding. The #1 thing this team has needed the last few years is a big kick to the rear end. I think this team will be just fine if they play like they can.

give_him_6 writes:

You ARE Tennessee AL!!! You were the heart and soul of a Defense as well as a team. Great to see you back in K-Town. And glad to see you talk to Coach Kiff. You are one of the truest Vols I've ever seen play. Your passion and love for the school took all to a higher level. I never thought I'd ever see a person more excited than Dale Jones but man..Al is the linebacker that all LBs are going to be judged against from here on out.

It was a pleasure to see you play in person for 4 years Big Al. Welcome back!!!!!!!!!

britt writes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuycAZ...

2:30 in Every time i think of Al Wilson this is the image that comes to mind

Goodvol writes:

When I think of Tennessee Vol players Al Wilson will always be near the top. There are others such as Reggie White, Peyton Manning, Dale Jones, and others that made a huge name for themselves.

When I think of real football players I think of Al Wilson. He is the definition of a TOUGH player. I want our team to play like that. Take the freaking skirts off and bloody the guy in front of you. Wilson and Raynoch Thompson were TOUGH players. I look forward to seeing that toughness again. It's been missing for awhile.

Orangeblood13 writes:

right on AW

right on

Gustoly writes:

Let's not get carried away Al. NO BLACK JERSEYS AT TENNESSEE. And I look forward to the day our offense can attack 3rd and long chavy wavy. Welcome back Al but some things do not change. Orange jerseys forever.

VolunteerPassion writes:

LANE SIGHTING---- St. John's Pass, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida(near Tampa) Apparently he bought a condo over here and Lane and Monte are over here with family.

kiffownsfla writes:

in response to BIPOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Got another 0 lineman saw on volquest 6'6 255 paris they liked him at camp so thats 2 today. GO VOLS!

filmjr#558361 writes:

Due respect to Peyton and Reggie, but Al Wilson is my all-time favorite Vol.

OwensboroVol writes:

Al Wilson is the standard for what Tennessee Football Players should be. I've never seen a kid work the way he did to be a player. He will be remembered for a long long time in big orange country. I would just like to say Thank You Al for what you gave to the University and its football program. I love you, Man!

kbart4033#247331 writes:

I am a huge Al Wilson fan. A huge Phil Fulmer fan. A huge
Lane Kiffen fan. But, I could care less about Oklahoma State,
Oregon State, Princeton or any other teams who wear Orange
and Black. Note to Lane: what the players really want is
to be coached-up, to be motivated, to be disciplined and
to be successful. Suggestion: wear black jerseys in the
Spring Game, then auction them off after the game. The game
jerseys need to be Tennessee Orange and White. Period. No
black trim. No blue trim. There is pride in wearing the
Orange and White...re-build it and the Lane Train will be
forever etched in the legacy!

TennesseeTuxedo writes:

Griff, believes that he is riding old paint into action. Unbeknownst, to Griff, is that old paint is actually at the glue factory. Phil is not coming back.

brokebackvol writes:

It seems the parade of former Vols backing up the Kiffins continues with the big guns. Sorry to be so cynical, but I have a feeling we are getting a little buttered up for what could be a really long, hard season. Cruise ships can't turn on a dime, and neither will the Vols this season. So pat 'em on the back and say "we're with ya."

Where will you be if they start 0-6? Don't say it can't happen - seen it. Will you be yelling for his head? Looking for a paper bag to put over your head if Florida beats the daylights outta the Vols this year? What if Vandy wins again? What if *gulp* Kentucky finally wins?

Will you still be a Vol fan then?

I will. Good ole' Rocky Top.

gnm53108 writes:

Very well said Al.

About the coaches.The jerseys...not so much.

TomMorello writes:

hahahahaha, I could see Lane Kiffin's Aura.

http://img194.imageshack.us/img194/68...

utvol2485 writes:

Wouldn't it be nice to see Al Wilson slide into a coaching position for the Vols? Just imagine him working with the special teams for a few seasons while learning the recruiting game from the best in the business. I don't want to see any of our coaches go, but I think after a few years under Coach O's tutelage Wilson would be a "heckuva" coach and recruiter. We are bound to lose some guys along the way. So, why not?

Either way he's still the b@ll$. No questions asked.

MidTennVol writes:

To me, the news that Al Wilson is around the program at this moment in history -- telling the Kiffins like it is -- is as good as signing 10 five-star recruits.

And YES, I sure hope Hamilton can find a way for Al to get a paid position with the football program, maybe even something like Condredge Holloway's role.

This man needs to be a part of Tennessee football for the foreseeable future.

kb7398#233189 writes:

Al definitely puts some perspective on the situation. We shouldn't have to choose between the two just the same as with Majors and Fulmer back in 1992, but that doesn't mean we haven't or won't because of the way the situation was handled by the AD and/or boosters.

Still, I prefer someone that has more than 5 career wins for a gawdawful pro franchise to lead my alma mater.

nicksjuzunk#646117 writes:

in response to Volfan1:

Wilson made it clear where he stands with former UT coach Phillip Fulmer and defensive coordinator John Chavis.

"In my eyes, Coach Fulmer is the University of Tennessee; he's the standard all coaches from this day forward have to live up to,'' Wilson said. "I've always felt he was the best coach in the country and I still feel that way. He left a great legacy; look man, every good thing has to come to an end. Life throws you curve balls.

"But you don't have to choose between coaches. If you are a Vol fan, you're a Vol fan. If you're a true Tennessee fan you have to roll with the punches and change with the times.''

Any of the whiners & dividers care to look Al Wilson in the eyes and argue with him about this? He is for Kiffin. That's great. He's for Fulmer. That's great....the way it should be. He nailed it....just like he did the opponents.

Come on, you Fulmer haters & Kiffin doubters...argue with Al. If you are a Vol fan, you are a Vol fan. Period. Thanks for the great word, Al.

Of course you realize that you are being logical and that is completely uncalled for. There in no place for that in this forum sir. Someone must be hated! When all else fails, we blame John Adams or talk about Tebow underwear.

oldorange writes:

Welcome home, Its good to have you back!

NOLAvol writes:

But NO BLACK JERSEYS!

Do you think that's reactionary? Imagine if they changed the smell of your favorite food. It would still be _____, and it would taste like _____ ...but it would smell like cabbage--would it still be your favorite food?

Brains get hard-wired from the sensory experiences they accumulate over time. The visual association for Vol fans with Orange & White is the most dominant sensory memory, whether on TV or in Neyland.

Sure, the players don't mind black jerseys (teenagers always want to express their individuality by being just like everyone else!) because, except for those who grew up Vol fans, they have no sensory association with ANY color. For them, picking what color they wear on Saturday is just like picking what color they'll wear on Monday.

DON'T MESS WITH THE ORANGE & WHITE!

blitzshoot writes:

Hire this man today! No brainer

txvolsfan writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

13 tackles and a forced fumble is who.
Also played with a seperated shoulder most of that year!!!

Rockytop38 writes:

in response to chuck0303#1342365:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm a traditionalist. Orange and White is the Tennessee colors. Tennessee has a lot of trandition. I am in agreement with this post. Stay with tradition and the great original colors of UT please.

Volfan1 writes:

in response to nicksjuzunk#646117:

Of course you realize that you are being logical and that is completely uncalled for. There in no place for that in this forum sir. Someone must be hated! When all else fails, we blame John Adams or talk about Tebow underwear.

Yes, Mr. Spock, that was logical. Only a Vulcan can understand that. That's why there is so little logic here at times.

Sorry, the little bit of Trekkie in me came out.
Beam me up, Scotty!

iowavol writes:

What a powerful article about a man all volunteers love. When Doolittle in the film Pearl Harbor said "never underestimate the heart of a volunteer" he had Al Wilson in mind. And now, with just a few words, he has virtually stopped the rancor still being created by the Fulmer haters - at least for today. A Vol Fan is a Vol Fan. It's time to reunite the fan base. Al Wilson might just be the one for the job - take note CLK.

tenntallguy_29#615180 writes:

Who started the Maxims? Who started the running through the T? Who Started the Vol walk? Who started painting the Checkerboards? They went away for awhile. Who brought them back? All of our coaches are responsible for giving us "our tradition." CLK deserves the right to bring things he like into that. I dare say if we break out some black jerseys againts GA and SC this year or Fl and AL next year and win both, then they will become tradition real quick.

GerryOP writes:

in response to DennisVols:

Bring AL back as the Attitude Adjustment coach.

Exactly! Can't you just see the look in some kid's eyes when someone walks up and says "Al wants to see you ... out back."

67 -- Fear The Kiffin...

TommyJack writes:

Props on Al. Pox on black jerseys.

Psychovol writes:

Black and orange would be scarier than Holloween to UT's opponents. Bring on the Great Pumpkin and leave the other guys black and blue.

DownTheField writes:

Please say NO to those black jerseys. Have you seen them? They look like like a halloween costume or something.

tino2009 writes:

in response to Volfan1:

Wilson made it clear where he stands with former UT coach Phillip Fulmer and defensive coordinator John Chavis.

"In my eyes, Coach Fulmer is the University of Tennessee; he's the standard all coaches from this day forward have to live up to,'' Wilson said. "I've always felt he was the best coach in the country and I still feel that way. He left a great legacy; look man, every good thing has to come to an end. Life throws you curve balls.

"But you don't have to choose between coaches. If you are a Vol fan, you're a Vol fan. If you're a true Tennessee fan you have to roll with the punches and change with the times.''

Any of the whiners & dividers care to look Al Wilson in the eyes and argue with him about this? He is for Kiffin. That's great. He's for Fulmer. That's great....the way it should be. He nailed it....just like he did the opponents.

Come on, you Fulmer haters & Kiffin doubters...argue with Al. If you are a Vol fan, you are a Vol fan. Period. Thanks for the great word, Al.

"Amen" Volfan1.....
go vols

MidTennVol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Props on Al. Pox on black jerseys.

Tell it, TJ. Black jerseys are a bad idea -- Richt made it work once for GA, where black is one of the school colors.

Tennessee has TWO colors: orange and white. I don't think we've exhausted our collective creativity in how to use and blend those two colors.

I for one would like to see a return to WHITE shoes -- from the Wide Receiver U days. White shoes meant one thing: FAST, as in Willie Gault fast.

brokebackvol writes:

Well, O&W are the PRIMARY school colors, but Navy is also part of the color scheme, sort like that powder blue is a Lady Vols color.

But I think I am in the majority. I do NOT like the "black jersey" idea - This is Tennessee, not Georgia.

In case you need a reminder, remember those horrible orange shoes that were shipped off to Siberia?

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features