John Adams: New coach, recruits big draws for spring game

John Adams

Justin King: Orange and White game will be 'a show'

How will you take in the Orange and White Game?

See the results »

View previous polls »

Colleague Mike Strange has no trouble remembering Tennessee’s most popular spring football game.

His daughter, Alice, was born on the same day, April 26, 1986. She was delivered by C-section at 5:55 p.m.

“I think the doctor wanted to get to the game,” Mike said.

So did almost everyone else. When the Orange and White Game kicked off at 7 p.m., Tennessee had an NCAA-record crowd of 73,801 on hand.

A representative from the Guinness World Records was even there to confirm what was the largest crowd ever to attend a spring game.

Other schools have drawn bigger crowds since then. In fact, Alabama has had three spring-game crowds in excess of 90,000.

But Tennessee hasn’t come close to matching its 1986 crowd. And no matter how revved up fans might be about new coach Butch Jones, don’t expect Neyland Stadium to be three-quarters full for Saturday’s spring game.

The 1986 game had more going for it than an enthusiastic new coach.

“Feelings for Tennessee were at an all-time high,” former UT publicist Bud Ford said. “And Pilot (Corporation) bought a bunch of tickets and disseminated them to the fans,”

Mark Dyer, UT’s director of promotions at the time, came up with the idea for the record-setting promotion. He also got Guinness involved.

You don’t draw a crowd of 73,801 on promotions alone. You need an attraction.

Tennessee’s attraction was the 1985 football season. The Vols won their first SEC championship in 16 years, upset Miami 35-7 in the Sugar Bowl and finished fourth nationally.

Saturday’s spring game doesn’t have quite the favorable buildup. UT hasn’t won an SEC championship in 15 years and has had three consecutive losing seasons. Moreover, its next team will be projected to finish closer to the bottom than the top of the conference.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t draw a crowd.

In the spring of 2009, UT was coming off a 5-7 season. Longtime coach Phillip Fulmer had been fired and replaced with Lane Kiffin. Yet the Vols drew a crowd of 51,488, their second largest for a spring game.

The fan base seems as excited now as it was then. And that’s not just because Jones keeps telling Tennessee fans how great they are. He and his staff are building momentum in recruiting, which isn’t that easy to do in the SEC after 21 losses in three seasons.

Scores of recruits will be in the crowd Saturday. UT fans can impress them by showing up.

That might be incentive enough to draw the second-largest spring crowd in school history.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 18

govolsdid writes:

My wife is a "HOKIE" and she wants to go to the VT game but guess what NOT! Go big orange ! Hope we have a good year and keep the recruits coming in - need a bunch of "BIG UGLIES" to go with the RBs and WRs.

OwensboroVol writes:

Just watching Tyler Bray on John Gruden's QB Camp on Cable. They have both said some really great things about the Vols. I hope a bunch of 5 star high school players are watching because I can't tell you how much what they said can mean to our recruiting. GBO!!! VFL

rockytop321 writes:

Nothing new, just another way for him to remind us we've sucked lately. God why is this all the KNS has to offer?

jack4444 writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Just watching Tyler Bray on John Gruden's QB Camp on Cable. They have both said some really great things about the Vols. I hope a bunch of 5 star high school players are watching because I can't tell you how much what they said can mean to our recruiting. GBO!!! VFL

First time I ever saw Gruden draw on the board and not the QB. Gruden even had to tell Bray what his progressions were, Bray was stuttering. Like Gruden said, Bray is a gamble.

Gruden stepped up like somebosy who gets it, Bray still doesn't.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to jack4444:

First time I ever saw Gruden draw on the board and not the QB. Gruden even had to tell Bray what his progressions were, Bray was stuttering. Like Gruden said, Bray is a gamble.

Gruden stepped up like somebosy who gets it, Bray still doesn't.

There is no doubt that Bray would have benefited from an additional year in college IF he would have worked hard off the field. I don't know whether to blame Dooley or Bray or both for his not taking seriously the amount of work a quarterback has to do off the field. As good as Bray was, if he had done the work, he could have been so much better. He is a gamble, not because of talent, but because no one knows if he is mature enough to realize that Football is now his profession and he must treat it like a job. I hope he succeeds, but I don't think its going to be easy for him. The main thing I thought Gruden done for UT, is that he referred to UT as "WE" during the conversation I seen. I think that would make a lot of HS Players think of playing at UT knowing that a Professional Coach (I think he will be back coaching shortly)watches Tennessee's games on a regular basis.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

This scrimmage will be a chance for some of the young guys to show their stuff. Also keep bringing in the recruits. Our coaching staff plus top notch recruits is a winning combination.

Fight on you Mighty Vols!

Hound_Dog69 writes:

in response to RIGHTISBETTERTHANLEFT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CoverOrange writes:

in response to jack4444:

First time I ever saw Gruden draw on the board and not the QB. Gruden even had to tell Bray what his progressions were, Bray was stuttering. Like Gruden said, Bray is a gamble.

Gruden stepped up like somebosy who gets it, Bray still doesn't.

On a positive note, think about what Bray accomplished knowing so little. Lots of upside for anyone with patience.

On a negative note, the stock of the Chaney has to be dropping.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Just watching Tyler Bray on John Gruden's QB Camp on Cable. They have both said some really great things about the Vols. I hope a bunch of 5 star high school players are watching because I can't tell you how much what they said can mean to our recruiting. GBO!!! VFL

Glad to see that Bray apparently still has good feelings about UT, given the decidedly mixed views expressed about him on here at least. I don't know how much practical effect his words might have on actual recruits, but it can't hurt to have his and Gruden's positive impressions on record. Too bad Bray wasn't willing to stick around another year, but I really can't blame him for not wanting to deal with a transition like that for the sake of just one year. I hope he is drafted high and does well in the NFL.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to jack4444:

First time I ever saw Gruden draw on the board and not the QB. Gruden even had to tell Bray what his progressions were, Bray was stuttering. Like Gruden said, Bray is a gamble.

Gruden stepped up like somebosy who gets it, Bray still doesn't.

No doubt, Bray didn't know one read from another..It's unbelievable that Chaney/Dooley allowed him to continue playing without really even knowing the playbook. That will not happen with CBJ, in fact I could see a scenario where Bray returns for his senior season and didn't start under Jones..No wonder he didn't return, he saw the writing on the wall. Bray has a great arm, but he's not overly intelligent or a student of the game, and he's lazy. Welcome to the 3rd round of the NFL draft.

gillblog writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

No doubt, Bray didn't know one read from another..It's unbelievable that Chaney/Dooley allowed him to continue playing without really even knowing the playbook. That will not happen with CBJ, in fact I could see a scenario where Bray returns for his senior season and didn't start under Jones..No wonder he didn't return, he saw the writing on the wall. Bray has a great arm, but he's not overly intelligent or a student of the game, and he's lazy. Welcome to the 3rd round of the NFL draft.

Yes.
I hate to say bad things about a previous coach, when so many bad things have already said about him and whom I generally supported while here, but the more you learn about Dooley and his staff the more you get the impression they were all just winging it; not fundamentally understanding what constituted a complete football team.

For Tyler Bray, that kind of learning environment could not have helped him develop so what we see now is essentially an advanced high school football player intellectually with possibly pro-level physical skills. I think he has made a very big miscalculation for his playing career by coming out early. Catching up at this point looks almost impossible. He had a chance to learn so much more by staying...

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to gillblog:

Yes.
I hate to say bad things about a previous coach, when so many bad things have already said about him and whom I generally supported while here, but the more you learn about Dooley and his staff the more you get the impression they were all just winging it; not fundamentally understanding what constituted a complete football team.

For Tyler Bray, that kind of learning environment could not have helped him develop so what we see now is essentially an advanced high school football player intellectually with possibly pro-level physical skills. I think he has made a very big miscalculation for his playing career by coming out early. Catching up at this point looks almost impossible. He had a chance to learn so much more by staying...

He sure did..Remember Tony Pike?? He was the 6'6 225lb qb that played for Cinci before Calero replaced him in 2011. He operated the spread by using passing options and he was sensational at it. This offense is not the typical spread wildcat you see at Oregon or WVU, it's a pro-set that can gear up for passing or running (whichever your team is most prolific at) much like the old west coast offense used by San Francisco in the Walsh/Holmgren years. So, yes, Bray would have benefited greatly by staying and learning a new system that forces him to use his progressive reads every play. Not to mention the speed/tempo change would have given him some experience useful at the next level.

allvol32 writes:

in response to Hound_Dog69:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He switches to his left hand when he wants a little strange down there in his mamma's basement!

jmaples54 writes:

in response to rockytop321:

Nothing new, just another way for him to remind us we've sucked lately. God why is this all the KNS has to offer?

Some people would say you must be pretty smart, since you already knew:

1. Tennessee fans set a NCAA and Guinness record with a crowd of over 73,000 at the spring game in 1986.

2. Alabama has had three spring-game crowds over 90,000.

3. The '85 SEC crown was Tennessee's first in 16 years, and the team wound up 4th in the nation.

4. UT's second biggest spring game attendance was in 2009: 51,000 to see Lane Kiffin's team.

Some people might say you're really smart. I would say you're really ignorant, that just like me you didn't know any of those things.

In addition to being ignorant, you are unrealistic. What the heck do you expect, Pulitzer-winning journalism every week?

You are also petty. You know who the KNS staff is, and you couldn't do any better if you stayed up all night.

Instead of asking God about the KNS staff, why don't you ask him for some perspective in life?

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

He sure did..Remember Tony Pike?? He was the 6'6 225lb qb that played for Cinci before Calero replaced him in 2011. He operated the spread by using passing options and he was sensational at it. This offense is not the typical spread wildcat you see at Oregon or WVU, it's a pro-set that can gear up for passing or running (whichever your team is most prolific at) much like the old west coast offense used by San Francisco in the Walsh/Holmgren years. So, yes, Bray would have benefited greatly by staying and learning a new system that forces him to use his progressive reads every play. Not to mention the speed/tempo change would have given him some experience useful at the next level.

In defense of Bray (if only slightly) He really didn't know that the coaching he would receive by staying would be much more intense than what he was use to. As far as he knew Dooley and Company were the norm for College Football Coaches. I do believe that some team is going to get a steal in drafting Bray. If he enters pro ball with a good attitude to learn he clearly can be a starter at the pro level and if nothing else the guy can throw the deep ball as good as any college QB I've ever seen. He was on target almost all of the time and on incomplete long passes it was nearly always a drop by the receiver or Bray threw it away because of coverage.

volforeverandever writes:

I think that from what I have seen and heard Bray would be fortunate to go in the 3rd round.The NFL network had him the 6th qb taken.ESPN rarely even mentions him and if they do he is called a gamble or a project.He looked clueless with Gruden.Mid to late rounds would be my guess if someone has their needs filled and had a pick to gamble with.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

In defense of Bray (if only slightly) He really didn't know that the coaching he would receive by staying would be much more intense than what he was use to. As far as he knew Dooley and Company were the norm for College Football Coaches. I do believe that some team is going to get a steal in drafting Bray. If he enters pro ball with a good attitude to learn he clearly can be a starter at the pro level and if nothing else the guy can throw the deep ball as good as any college QB I've ever seen. He was on target almost all of the time and on incomplete long passes it was nearly always a drop by the receiver or Bray threw it away because of coverage.

TB wasn't always off target and it wasn't his fault his receivers dropped passes..However, John Gruden touched on this..TB would not check out of double/triple coverage because he thought he could thread the needle every time. It's this thinking that will get his rear cut in the preseason if he doesn't realize a big play is not possible on every play..Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the defense and line up for the next play..I don't think Tyler ever understood that logic.

exlineman writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

TB wasn't always off target and it wasn't his fault his receivers dropped passes..However, John Gruden touched on this..TB would not check out of double/triple coverage because he thought he could thread the needle every time. It's this thinking that will get his rear cut in the preseason if he doesn't realize a big play is not possible on every play..Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the defense and line up for the next play..I don't think Tyler ever understood that logic.

Bivolar, enjoyed your comments, made for good reading and shows you are on top of your game. Looking forward to see what Coach Jones can do with our vols. Keep up the great comments.

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