Strange: Dickey gives black jerseys his blessing

Mike Strange

His black jacket, Doug Dickey explained Monday, was because he had to attend a funeral on his way to town.

"I didn't know I was going to be in vogue when I got here,'' he said, getting a big laugh.

Dickey, one of Tennessee's most innovative football coaches and athletic directors, was a voice from the past when he spoke to the Knoxville Quarterback Club.

It's been nearly 40 years since he walked away from the Vols to coach his alma mater, Florida. He retired from his Act Two at Tennessee in 2003 after 18 eventful years as athletic director.

But no one can say Dickey wasn't one smart cookie. Still is. When he recounted UT history, it was in the context of how it sets the table for Lane Kiffin to succeed now and in the immediate future.

Robert Neyland?

"He set the standard for recruiting here,'' said Dickey.

Returning from World War II, Neyland resisted innovation, stuck with his single-wing offense and won a national championship in 1951. How? By assembling a great collection of players, not just from Tennessee but from all over the country.

"Location, location, location,'' Dickey said. "People come here from all over the country and that's never changed.''

Kiffin, Dickey said, benefits from the acclaim Pat Summitt has garnered with her eight national championships. And from the marketing genius of John Ward, who "fanned the flames of whatever success was going on.''

And from Phillip Fulmer, the only football coach Dickey had to hire.

"He said he would take it to another level and so he did,'' Dickey said. "He took it to another level in the volume of quality players that were here and won a national championship.

"Lane Kiffin will benefit from all the things Phillip Fulmer did while he was coach here.''

When someone from the audience asked Dickey to second-guess Kiffin's late-game strategy at Alabama, the old coach wouldn't bite.

"One thing about being retired, I don't have to answer that,'' he said.

"I don't have to worry about third down-and-long. I worry about if my golf game is going to get in the way of my fishing.''

Sources say his golf game is strong. Back in the day, so was his record at UT. He was 46-15-4 and won two SEC titles in his six years (1964-69).

He ushered the Vols into the T-formation era. Integration, too. Several of his innovations are game-day traditions - that help Kiffin impress recruits from all over the country.

Dickey, by the way, thinks Kiffin is off to a good start. He even approved of the black jerseys Saturday night.

"Bob Neyland was an eccentric on the conservative side,'' Dickey said. "Lane Kiffin is probably an eccentric on the other end.

"In today's world, to be a little eccentric, there's nothing wrong with that.''

Today's world, Dickey believes, would benefit from a modest college football playoff: One plays four, two plays three and the winners meet for the title.

"It's easier to separate four and five than it is two and three,'' Dickey said. "In the BCS you've got to separate two and three.''

Now, it's up to Kiffin to get Tennessee involved, whatever the format.

Today is the first anniversary of Fulmer being asked to resign, a task that fell to Dickey's successor, Mike Hamilton. But Dickey had to make his own tough call, asking Johnny Majors, a Tennessee legend, to step aside in 1992.

"That's where we find ourselves at times, as athletic administrators,'' Dickey said. "You make changes and you move on and you hope the next one rises above where you were.

"That's what we hope we do this time.''

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 40

Rockygrass writes:

Thanks Dickey

phillyvol writes:

Were the black jerseys that big of a deal? Come on.

riversetvol writes:

Anybody remember the last time we won the SEC without a Dickey as coach, AD or quarterback? Try 53 years ago in 1956.

The same people complaining about the black jerseys probably are still mad at Dickey for abandoning the single wing.

jphilli5#240013 writes:

Idiots who walked out. We wore black before we wore orange. Don't e becaue of the black. Yu should never forget your raising, or your history, you fair weathered idiots. Everything has to be the same as when you were there, or worse, when you started watching the vols as a non participant int he school and achademia. Screw you all.

BIGEJ writes:

Traditions: conversion of jerseys from/to black to orange, putting Ts on the helmet,converting the T to the power T, running thru the T, the adding checkerboard to the endzone, variations of helmet stripes, adding stripes to the pants, Smokey as the mascot....all changes some permanent some not. If the change brings about championships so be it...but one thing remains constant.......Go Vols.

GreerVol22 writes:

if we were still playing at the UCLA level, then walk out. But over a dad gum jersey? all you did was waste money and beat some traffic. pathetic to think that the school had somehow cheated you.

TommyJack writes:

I was there and saw no one walk out. Why is it some kind of sin to not like the black jerseys?
Sheesh.

utvolz#637682 writes:

I'm 54 years old and I thought the black jerseys were awesome. Unfortunately, when I got to my seats, I had missed the pre-game warm ups so I wasn't aware they had switched jerseys until I heard it on the radio. For a once in a while game day jersey? Without a doubt!

FWBVol writes:

I don't like the black football jerseys, but I support the guys representing my university whatever color they wear. It's OK not to like a certain uniform look, but to let it carry over to the loyalty to your team shows you have no loyalty at all.

orangevolz writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't believe everything you hear. There were some rumors about it, but rumors are nothing but that. I was at the game, and a lot of fans left very early. Had nothing to do with the jerseys.

Vol_FAN_atic writes:

What is it about deviating from normal that has so many people riled up?

Everything changes! We all change our hairstyles, the styles of clothing as well as other things in life. Imagine life if the "60's" never changed. We would all still be wearing "bell-bottom" pants and polyester "flower-power" shirts.

C'mon people!! Change isn't always BAD. Besides, anyone complain about Pat Summit implementing baby blue as an added color for the Womens basketball program? I will finish by saying; although I happen to like the color Orange, nearly every complaint I have ever heard about UT is the "UGLY ORANGE COLOR" from others throughout the country. Recruits often feel the same way unless they happen to be UT fans already.

chrisw2967 writes:

black,white,orange doesnt matter tn won the game and I dont think the color of the uniform had anything to do with the win.I liked it myself,thought it was a change,I now live at Ft.Stewart Ga and several of my friends down here are Ga fans and they even thought that was awesome.Orange and white is Tn football but it doesnt hurt to change things up every once in awhile.
If we wore them against bama and fla and won everybody would be ready to go all black.

Pullingguard writes:

For those who did not like the Black Jersey's and are so hung up on the standard color rather than the results of the game and something the players wanted in black jerseys, should have been happy with the 2008 season.. Change is good, and the jerseys looked great, and the score was very pleasing.

tdvol1989 writes:

I would have to see it to believe it when it comes to someone not cheering for the Vols because of the Black Jerseys. "Is that made up? Dad that sounds made up." (Quote from "Vacation")

I am ok with the idea of the Black jerseys, but for me (ala Randy Jackson), the Black Jerseys, Orange Pants, and White Helmets were HEATHEN!!! If you are going to do Black, do Black. At least go Black Helmets with an Orange T. Go Black Pants too. Either way though, I want the strip gone from the britches. Just an orange T ala the 1998 team is fine with me.

But DEFINITELY keep the Black in reserve for the WOW factor.

braintree writes:

We ain't always sang Rocky Top, but we do now.

Loved the black jerseys, love to see them again...sometime.

tnvoice#278189 writes:

Now, the Orange/black combo...that was all-Vol, and the orange pants and numbers really made the uniforms POP. I don't want to see it all the time, then it wouldn't be special, but it was a damn sight better than all orange.

Right On Tweet. It was a special night, A special win, and A special uniform for the night. Vol Fans should get used to the idea that there is change underway in Big Orange Country and this is just one of the first manisfestations of that change.

BillVol writes:

Who gives a rat's what Dickey thinks? What is he doing in town anyhow? When will he go away?

newtonrail writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually two OSU's wear it frequently( Oklahoma State Univ and Oregon State Univ), and probably more I can't think of.

chbradshaw writes:

Let's see...Dickey's accomplishments...

1) Lost Gator Bowl to Florida while planning to dump Vols to coach Gators
2) Failure coaching Gators
3) In a slap to the face of Vols coach Johnny Majors, returns after no-accomplishment retirement to be named AD to astonishment of true Vols fans
4) After 7 years as AD, fires Johnny Majors despite Majors' winning three SEC championships in those years. Hires player who played for him who owed his career to Majors.
5) Gets caught selling sports nutrition drink against school policy.

Good riddance.

hueypilot writes:

in response to chbradshaw:

Let's see...Dickey's accomplishments...

1) Lost Gator Bowl to Florida while planning to dump Vols to coach Gators
2) Failure coaching Gators
3) In a slap to the face of Vols coach Johnny Majors, returns after no-accomplishment retirement to be named AD to astonishment of true Vols fans
4) After 7 years as AD, fires Johnny Majors despite Majors' winning three SEC championships in those years. Hires player who played for him who owed his career to Majors.
5) Gets caught selling sports nutrition drink against school policy.

Good riddance.

1)Brought Tennessee back to National prominence in just five years beating Bear his last three years in Knoxville
2) Took his teams to a bowl every year after 1965
3) Got us out of the single wing, the last college in the country to employ it, hurting us severely in the recruitment of t formation quarterbacks
4) Had the audacity to return to his alma mater when offered the job.
5) In his role as AD expanded Neyland Stadium to its over 100K
6) Stood up to Johnny Majors when he made unrealistic demands "or else" and hired Phillip Fulmer who became the second winningest coach in UT history and brought UT a national championship
That's who he is and what he did. He is also welcome in Knoxville anytime he want to come there, and if that burns you up, too bad

87UTVOL writes:

Dickey will always have his detractors. Most AD's do. But, his accomplishments cannot be overlooked. And, it's not just to Neyland, but other sports facilities as well. Like it or not, the present way the ADept raises money is due to Dickey. Not popular with some, but it's the reason our ADept operates in the black and is FAR more stable than virtually every other D-1 school. UT and UT fans owe a lot to Dickey.

As for black jerseys, I was there. It was great. I saw a lot of people cheer and no one leave. I've gone to games since I was a kid. I sold cokes in that stadium in middle school. I've been to virtually every home and away game for the past 25 years. There's no one more 'orange' than me. Our players have played hard all year. They wanted it. It was fun. It's good for recruiting. If you're against them, you're probably also against flouride in the water.

rusty_shackleford writes:

I don't like the orange jersey/pant combo but you'll never hear me whine about it, threaten to not support the Vols, or boycott games. Get over yourselves!

Bearwuzacheater writes:

in response to hueypilot:

1)Brought Tennessee back to National prominence in just five years beating Bear his last three years in Knoxville
2) Took his teams to a bowl every year after 1965
3) Got us out of the single wing, the last college in the country to employ it, hurting us severely in the recruitment of t formation quarterbacks
4) Had the audacity to return to his alma mater when offered the job.
5) In his role as AD expanded Neyland Stadium to its over 100K
6) Stood up to Johnny Majors when he made unrealistic demands "or else" and hired Phillip Fulmer who became the second winningest coach in UT history and brought UT a national championship
That's who he is and what he did. He is also welcome in Knoxville anytime he want to come there, and if that burns you up, too bad

Thank you hueypilot for speaking the truth...

to those Majors revisionists who want to blame Dickey for Majors losing his job there are only two names that get that blame: JOHNNY MAJORS & GEORGE DICKEL!

Brillovol writes:

in response to chbradshaw:

Let's see...Dickey's accomplishments...

1) Lost Gator Bowl to Florida while planning to dump Vols to coach Gators
2) Failure coaching Gators
3) In a slap to the face of Vols coach Johnny Majors, returns after no-accomplishment retirement to be named AD to astonishment of true Vols fans
4) After 7 years as AD, fires Johnny Majors despite Majors' winning three SEC championships in those years. Hires player who played for him who owed his career to Majors.
5) Gets caught selling sports nutrition drink against school policy.

Good riddance.

Just a guess, but I believe you are in the Majors camp. Majors may have been a legend, but I don't respect him one bit personally. His drunken bitterness only divided the Vol nation. As for Dickey, I'll second what Huey said. There is no arguing the many positives Dickey brought to the football program and to the university.

fronix5000 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I don't like the black football jerseys, but I support the guys representing my university whatever color they wear. It's OK not to like a certain uniform look, but to let it carry over to the loyalty to your team shows you have no loyalty at all.

agreed...let us move on. We WON THE GAME....there were bowls there scouting UT Football...I'm sure that added to the excitement. From what I heard...Monte, Hardesty, and Berry were some of the guys who approached Hammy on this. Big deal. They deserve to wear them the way they are playing. Kids like to have fun...they played great, and that is all that matters. WE WON...America is noticing the T again...lets look at the next game please.

easleychuck writes:

Concerning Coach Dickey, I was a young kid (12 years old) when he left UT for the Florida job. In hindsight, he made a huge mistake. For whatever reason, the lizards were just were not able to make it to the elite level under him.

Not sure why he thought that he could do it....they had never been there a real factor before his arrival. It was another 15 years or so before they became a factor in the SEC. To this day, both of my parents feel like his lack of concentration brought on by the Florida job that he had already agreed to take was a sin against the Volunteers. It wasn't just that he left (nobody hates being tossed aside) but how it was handled and the fact (even though it he was an alum) it was another conference school. Sort of like Jane Fonda sitting in a Viet Cong tank. I really believe that the Vols could have been a Nebraska-like power during the 70's, 80's, and 90's if he had stayed to build on the foundation that he had started. Bammer would have surely been a sadder bunch if he had stayed.

As far as the black uniforms on Saturday night, I just saw a group of Volunteers "workin like heck" to bounce back from a tough loss to Bammer.
The jersey color was irrelevant to me, and for Halloween night on national television, they were very cool, especially when you factor in the switch over after warmups.
The fashionistas discussing "they should have worn black pants" or "their helmets were the wrong color" are cracking me up. You are either Vol fans or not, the jersey shouldn't matter.

If you want to talk about an ugly look, think back to those 70's away jerseys that we were wearing once the SEC went to the travel team wears white rule. Those were really bad, but it was still our guys wearing them.

Go Vols and Coach Kiffin, unseat the evil Cryer.

InertGas writes:

Times have changed. A lot of teams do tweak uniforms. The main thing is the players like it. It helps recruiting. If it helps recruiting I don't care if they wear pink.
Well I guess I would care if the wore pink.

brokebackvol writes:

As an older fan, I'll admit I didn't "love" the black jerseys, but it was a one-night only thing, and loyal Vol fans know that, chuckle, and move on. I know we might not see that happen again for a long time, or at least til CBP does it vs Kentucky in hoops. It was Halloween night, folks. Get over it and get ready to name the score vs Tiger High on Sat.

tngilmer writes:

I was supportive of Fulmer being retired but I did not think Kiffin was the right choice to replace him. I was wrong. Kiffin brought a new energy to UT that it has long needed. He is the Bruce Pearle of the football profession. I think Kiffin will really reinvigorate UT in the long run.

NoMoreWooAfterGoodOleRockyTop writes:

So today is the anniversary of CFP being shown the door. How 'bout we do the same with Jimmy Whaaa!-ams, Blob, and Grif the stiff. Then the house cleaning would finally be complete.

TommyJack writes:

When Woodruff brought in Dickey as coach, it was the start of many good things for the Vols. Just a fact.

arlvol writes:

I like the all orange unis, all white unis, orange and white unis, and black and orange unis. Bottom line, who gives a phooey about the color combo b/c its all about the w's baby!

murrayvol writes:

I've always wondered how the arc of Tennessee football would've fared had Dickey followed the Vince Dooley model. Pretty damn good I'm guessing.

Sometimes going "home" is good. Sometimes not.

10volunteers98 writes:

Who cares if the Vols wore black jerseys?They won the game,didn`t they?Maybe they were remembering the Chuck Norris movie,"Good Guys Wear Black'.GO,VOLS!!!

LongtimeVol writes:

in response to hueypilot:

1)Brought Tennessee back to National prominence in just five years beating Bear his last three years in Knoxville
2) Took his teams to a bowl every year after 1965
3) Got us out of the single wing, the last college in the country to employ it, hurting us severely in the recruitment of t formation quarterbacks
4) Had the audacity to return to his alma mater when offered the job.
5) In his role as AD expanded Neyland Stadium to its over 100K
6) Stood up to Johnny Majors when he made unrealistic demands "or else" and hired Phillip Fulmer who became the second winningest coach in UT history and brought UT a national championship
That's who he is and what he did. He is also welcome in Knoxville anytime he want to come there, and if that burns you up, too bad

I am with you hueypilot.
Dicky also put the power T on the helmut, the o/w checkerboards in the end zone, and started the tradition of running through the T. All traditions we still love today.
There were so many connections between UT and UF from that time it is incredible.
Dickey played QB for UF under Bob Woodruff, who played for Neyland before he coached at UF and then later became AD for UT and hired Dickey. When Dickey returned to UF to coach, he replaced Ray Graves (Knoxville native who also played for Neyland) who had been the UF HC/AD. Graves hired Dickey as HC and remained at UF as AD.
As HC Dickey recruited and coached Phil, and then later made Phil HC.
I never thought Dickey was a particularly warm or likeable guy, but his influence on UT athletics is second only Neyland in my opinion. He was a visionary for college football, so his opinion carries great weight among people who really know the game and its history.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Vol_FAN_atic:

What is it about deviating from normal that has so many people riled up?

Everything changes! We all change our hairstyles, the styles of clothing as well as other things in life. Imagine life if the "60's" never changed. We would all still be wearing "bell-bottom" pants and polyester "flower-power" shirts.

C'mon people!! Change isn't always BAD. Besides, anyone complain about Pat Summit implementing baby blue as an added color for the Womens basketball program? I will finish by saying; although I happen to like the color Orange, nearly every complaint I have ever heard about UT is the "UGLY ORANGE COLOR" from others throughout the country. Recruits often feel the same way unless they happen to be UT fans already.

Well, actually, LOTS of people complain about "Columbia blue" as a complementary color for the Lady Vols. Not only do some fans comment on it regularly on the Lady Vol articles, some of the ones on here opposing the black jerseys cited it as another instance of betraying the tradition of "orange and white only". As for some recruits saying they used to hate orange, I have heard just as many say they first noticed UT by watching them on TV because their unique shade was instantly recognizable and they thought it looked cool.

orangekoolaid2 writes:

Was Dickey the bad guy or Woodruff? I believe Woodruff began the assualt upon us by bringing Dickey in. Reguardless, they both were not from here. They were from there, and they made their money from us. Their legacy ends like this. Two of TN's favorite son's were taken away by them.
By the way, who hired Battle?
DD go away. JM continue to support us. PF please come home. LK go kick so a..
Black or orange, let's go win a NC and circle the wagons.
Just remember. They were not us.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree with you it is a crazy reaction. In fact Tennessee wore black and orange jerseys during the programs early history up until 1921. Look at Nathan Dougherty's picture in any media guide our first Hall of Fame player, the key player in bringing Robert Neyland to Tennessee, and the long-time Dean of Engineering. He is wearing a black jersey.

I thought the uniforms looked sharp and the numbers were clearly legible.

I do not think we should change to them but as a change of pace they were terrific.

It also might enable us to use a little more black around the numbers on our road uniforms and possibly around the numbers on our orange standards.

Contrary to popular belief they did not violate our programs tradition due to the precedent of their use up to 1921.

GoVols!

GoVols!

cainclifton23 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

I was there and saw no one walk out. Why is it some kind of sin to not like the black jerseys?
Sheesh.

Its not a sin. but when we have people "walking out" and blowing it up like "HATE IT. were BIG ORANGE not BIG BLACK" blah blah. that is stupid.

i mean for the tradion ppl, are you so stupid and blinded to not figure out that we may not ever wear those again or once a year.

god forbid we change anything about tenessee. dont put 3 orange stripes on the pants. i will walk out

SmokeyHound writes:

in response to Plasticman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

dude, thats what he is saying retard. he agrees with you idiot

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