We will never know for sure. But that doesn't mean they don't know for sure.
"He did not cross the goal line,'' Wayne Grubb said Monday with finality.
"He didn't get across,'' confirmed Charles Severance, shaking his head.
Wait a minute.
Billy Cannon, if there was a replay camera at Shields-Watkins Field on Nov. 7, 1959, what would it show?
"Me going in, then coming back. Without a doubt.''
Pause. Smile. "In my mind.''
Cannon hasn't changed his mind in the nearly 52 years since the famous two-point conversion play went down.
In Tennessee, it's known simply as The Stop.
An underdog Tennessee team upset No. 1 LSU that afternoon, 14-13, by denying Cannon, the 1959 Heisman Trophy winner, on a two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter.
The principles in The Stop reunited Monday when Cannon, 74, came to speak to the Knoxville Quarterback Club. He regaled a crowd at Calhoun's, Neyland Stadium — as the scene of the crime is called these days — visible out the window.
While Cannon talked, grainy footage of LSU's touchdown and ensuing conversion played over and over on TV monitors over his shoulder. I watched it probably a dozen times.
LSU scores a touchdown to cut UT's lead to 14-13. The reigning national champs line up for the conversion to keep the title defense hopes alive.
Cannon is to the left, takes a handoff moving to his right and turns toward the goal line. He's met by Tennessee defenders, Severance high and Grubb low. Bill Majors also gets a piece. They go down at the goal line.
"I got that good lick on him,'' Severance said, "like a baseball bat. Wayne hit him down there around his feet.
"We hit him about the same time and drove him back. Majors came in just a little bit.''
The officials do not raise their hands to signal the conversion is good. The camera cuts to the scoreboard, showing it's still 14-13.
Sports Illustrated ran a photo of The Stop the following week. Bottom line, it's impossible to tell if the ball broke the plane of the goal line. Both sides can safely stick to their stories.
"We didn't play as well as I thought we could have,'' said Cannon. "Taking nothing away from Tennessee. They were a great little team that day.''
The Stop came exactly one week after Cannon's
most famous play, the 89-yard punt return on Halloween to beat Ole Miss 7-3.
The Vols, who had started the season with promise, didn't stop anyone else. They were outscored 71-7 in their three remaining games and finished 5-4-1.
Cannon was a physical marvel. He was the No. 1 draft pick who played 11 years in the AFL and NFL. During his offseasons he studied to become a dentist at the UT Med School in Memphis.
The College Football Hall of Fame elected him in 1983, then rescinded the honor when he went to prison for counterfeiting. He was re-elected in 2008.
Severance has gotten considerable mileage out of The Stop, attending several media events in Baton Rouge. He introduced Cannon on Monday, the old warriors clearly glad to see each other.
By now, it really doesn't matter if the officials got the call right in 1959.
But the events of that day do raise a relevant point.
LSU is coming to town Saturday, again ranked No. 1. The Vols again are a heavy underdog.
"That was a big disappointment for us,'' Cannon said, looking back over the decades. "We didn't play our 'A' game.
"In the Southeastern Conference you better play your 'A' game every day.''