Archives for posts with tag: Philip Fulmer

As the calendar closes in on Halloween and the final month of the season in November, the SEC’s named rivalries began to kickoff. The Third Saturday in October, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and The Iron Bowl are all part of SEC lore. For these rivalries, we’ll take a look back at the games five, 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

Today — the third Saturday in October — marks the annual Alabama-Tennessee battle. Since the 1992 divisional split, this rivalry has only been played on the actual third Saturday in October six times.

2007: Alabama 41, #20 Tennessee 17 (Tuscaloosa)

In Nick Saban’s first game against Tennessee as Alabama’s head coach, he opened with a recovered onside kick that led to 3-0 lead for the Crimson Tide. They wouldn’t look back and never trailed #20 Tennessee, eventually hammering the Vols in the 2nd half for a 41-17 win. In Philip Fulmer’s final season at Tennessee in 2008, a number of Vols fans sold their home tickets to Tide fans signifying their displeasure with the Vols’ direction. Tennessee hasn’t beaten Saban and Alabama since.

2007 Statistics:

Leading Passer (yards) — Ala. QB John Parker Wilson (32/46 for 363 yds., 3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Leading Rusher — Ala. RB Terry Grant (26 carries for 104 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Receiver — Ala. WR D.J. Hall (13 catches for 185 yds., 2 TDs)

 

2002: #19 Alabama 34, #16 Tennessee 14 (Knoxville)

The 2002 version of the Alabama Crimson Tide lost only two games, and on its way to double-digit victories, it snapped Tennessee’s seven-game winning streak in the rivalry. The 1995-2001 stretch is the Volunteers longest streak in the series. Alabama holds an 11-game mark and is currently on a five-game streak.

The series’ famous “Victory Cigars” were surely lit up in Tuscaloosa after this one.

The video is blurry, but Ron Franklin is on the call (Courtesy of RedElephantStampede). He was SEC Saturday Night, and you wish he still was.

 

 

Alabama QB Jay Barker escapes the Tennessee rush.

1992: #4 Alabama 17, #13 Tennessee 10 (Knoxville)

Alabama would go on to win the 1992 National Championship after defeating Tennessee 17-10. The Tide jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, but gave the Vols an opportunity to tie the game in the 4th quarter with a fumble at the Tennessee 48-yard-line with 1:30 left. However, Tennessee QB Heath Shuler threw an interception to end the threat.

 

1982: Tennessee 35, #2 Alabama 28 (Knoxville)

Like the 2002 version of this rivalry, the 1982 game ended a team’s longest streak. Alabama had won 11 straight against the Vols, but Tennessee knocked them off to start a four-game streak of its own from 1982-1985. Vols WR and world-class sprinter Willie Gault, who would later star for the Chicago Bears, struck early in this one.

Long-time Tennessee radio voice John Ward on call (Courtesy of YankeeFanInTenn):

 

Expansion came to the SEC in 1992 in the form of two new teams — Arkansas and South Carolina — and a new SEC Championship Game, first played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., and then moved to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 1994. While the first SEC Championship Game almost ruined #2 Alabama’s and the SEC’s chances at their first national championships since 1979 and 1980, respectively, the Crimson Tide eventually overcame Florida 28-21 and blasted #1 Miami (Fla.) 34-13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl to claim it all.

Florida’s HC Steve Spurrier and QB Danny Wuerffel claim the program’s first national championship in the 1997 Sugar Bowl.

While Florida met Alabama in four of the first five SEC championship games (’92, ’93, ’94, ’96), it was the Gators’ new rivalry with the SEC East’s perennial 2nd-place team Tennessee that sparked so much interest nationally for the conference each September throughout the 1990s. Florida strung together four consecutive SEC championships from 1993-1996 that hadn’t been accomplished since Bear Bryant’s Alabama teams as Steve Spurrier brought a different winning style to the SEC through the air. Spurrier capped it off with the 1996 national championship, the first in Florida’s history.

Meanwhile, Philip Fulmer took over for Johnny Majors in east Tennessee in 1992 and promptly positioned the Vols as Florida’s main obstacle to the SEC East crown. His Vols beat Spurrier’s Gators in 1992, but wouldn’t again until 1998 on their way to Tennessee’s first national championship since 1951.

For 6 years, Fulmer dealt with blow after blow from Florida on the field and quip after quip from Spurrier off it.

Perhaps Spurrier’s best recognized shot at Tennessee during those years was his quote about the Volunteers regularly playing in the Citrus Bowl, the bowl season’s home to the SEC’s 2nd-place team.

“You can’t spell Citrus without the U and T,” jabbed Spurrier.

Heightening matters was the fact that Spurrier is originally from east Tennessee before playing his college football at Florida and winning the 1966 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback.

Not even top recruit and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who directed the Vols at quarterback from 1994-1997, could break through against the Gators. He led Tennessee to the 1997 SEC championship during his senior year, but took his 4th loss to Florida earlier that season.

Tennessee’s HC Philip Fulmer and QB Peyton Manning couldn’t get it done against Florida in four tries together.

Tee Martin took Tennessee’s quarterback reigns in 1998 as the Vols finally knocked off the Gators in overtime in Knoxville — a win, as stated earlier, that eventually led Tennessee to the 1998 national championship.

The Florida-Tennessee rivalry ushered in the SEC’s new expansion era in the 1990s as television coverage exploded across the country. Between highly touted recruits and lofty national rankings, the rivalry was annually pointed to as the biggest September game of the season.

While it’s not #2 versus #4, Florida and Tennessee meet in Knoxville this Saturday night with both ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in many years and ESPN College Gameday in tow. That ’90s feeling is back, if only slightly.