Whether you like sports or not, athletics is a big part of most colleges and universities. As the fall semester begins to roll along, we are about to see week one of college football commence this weekend. In many areas of the country, college football is a massive thing, and here in the south it is the king of sports. I saw that this year is the 100th anniversary of Neyland Stadium, home of the Volunteers of the University of Tennessee. It is a massive stadium and although I may be biased as a two-time alumnus of the place, I think it is one of the best venues for football in the nation. The centennial this year had me thinking about another anniversary which occurred during my master’s program there. In 1994, UT turned 200. The entire year had bicentennial events and a special logo was developed which appeared on everything (including my master’s diploma). The Vols had a decent, although not awesome season that year, eventually going 7 and 4 in the regular season and finally bringing the win figure up to eight with a trouncing of Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. The bicentennial made homecoming that year a particularly spectacular event. We played the Washington State Cougars that year, a team that would also 7 and 4 in the regular season and 8 and 4 in total thanks to an Alamo Bowl victory over Baylor. The game was not an offensive master piece by any means, but the defense on both squads did well. In the end, UT would win the game 10 to 9. The game was a squeaker and may be the reason why that despite the victory I only have photos of the banners erected on Neyland for homecoming and one of myself after the game. None the less, in honor of Neyland’s centennial, this entry is of that game on October 1, 1994. It was a beautiful fall day in Knoxville and warm enough that a t-shirt was in order for the game.
Student groups on campus would paint homecoming scenes on the windows of some of the buildings on campus as well as businesses on the Strip (Cumberland Avenue). The first two photos below, taken prior to the game, are of the Nursing Building and the Wendy’s on Cumberland Avenue with just such window paintings. The next five are of the various painted banners (most by Greek letter organizations) hanging on the sides of Neyland stadium. The homecoming theme, “Cheers to 200 Years”, may be seen on most of these. The last photo is me - terribly thin, wearing a shirt that is too big, and needing a haircut - after the game standing on the now demolished courtyard on the top of the also razed Carolyn P. Brown University Center parking garage.
Neyland looks very different today with a brick façade and jumbo screens on each end zone. At some point, I will try to do a retrospective of the stadium from time as an undergraduate through today. Go Vols!
University Grounds is a blog about college and university campuses, their buildings and grounds, and the people who live and work on them.
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