Tennessee Football: Top Coaches in Vols History
Photo Source: http://hardknoxsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Johnny-Majors-Bear-Bryant.jpg
In the storied history of Tennessee Volunteers football there have been many great head coaches.
As always, there will be debate as to who is the greatest, or who deserves or doesn't deserve to be named.
This particular list attempts to rank the top five in Tennessee history. Let the discussion begin!
5. Bill Battle (1970-1976)
Photo Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-nAhsxTXMXvo/TYfTp3oBWOI/AAAAAAAAAkU/BXzKLAZzzrg/s1600/Battle.jpeg
The name Bill Battle is all but lost to most fans who follow the Tennessee Volunteers football program, but he deserves to be remembered among UT coaches.
In an era when the Crimson Tide of Alabama was dominating the Southeastern Conference, Battle arrived in Knoxville to replace a successful coach in Doug Dickey who had left for his alma mater Florida.
Bill Battle played for Bear Bryant in Tuscaloosa a decade earlier, but was unable to overtake his former coach and gain the position in the SEC that Vols fans craved.
Seven seasons, 59–22–2 overall, 22–18–1 SEC, 4-1 in bowls
4. Doug Dickey (1964-1969)
Photo Source: http://smokeys-trail.com/HallFame/d-dickey.jpg
Doug Dickey arrived in Knoxville after the Vols had suffered through a long string of mediocre seasons under a handful of failed coaches.
After a tough first season of rebuilding, Dickey never won less than eight games the rest of his tenure, and took the Volunteers to five straight bowl games back when it meant something.
After winning two SEC titles in three seasons, Dickey returned to his alma mater to coach the Florida Gators. He was never able to match his level of success enjoyed with the Vols at his time in Gainesville, but left the Tennessee program in better shape than he found it, regaining some national clout.
Six seasons, 46–15–4 overall, 23–10–4 SEC, 2-3 in bowls
SEC Championships — 1967, 1969
SEC Coach of the Year — 1965, 1967
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame —1991
College Football Hall of Fame — 2003
3. Johnny Majors (1977-1992)
Photo Source: http://thegoallinestuff.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/johnjohn.jpg
Coach Johnny Majors won a national championship at Pittsburgh in 1976 and used the stage to maneuver a return home to Knoxville, where he had been a legendary halfback.
Majors did enough to keep himself at the head of the Volunteers program for 16 season, even winning three SEC titles, yet was never able to reach the very top and was eventually forced to make way for his replacement, Phillip Fulmer, in 1992.
Majors impressive overall numbers make him a strong candidate for this list, but his shortcomings keep him out of the top spot.
16 seasons, 116–62–8 overall, 57–40–3 SEC, 7-4 in bowls
SEC Championships — 1985, 1989, 1990
SEC Coach of the Year —1985
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame — 1966
College Football Hall of Fame — 1987
2. Phillip Fulmer (1992- 2008)
Photo Source: http://media.govolsxtra.com/media/img/photos/2008/11/29/112908fulmer-wide-2_t607.jpg
The position of Phil Fulmer on this list may take some heat, but he's a solid number two. As his forced departure from Knoxville moves further into the past, he is likely becoming more and more appreciated each mediocre season.
Fulmer brought the Volunteers their first true national title since 1951, which was the very first of the BCS era, beating a strong FSU team under Bobby Bowden in the Fiesta Bowl.
Though Phillip Fulmer's career had some tough times, there is no doubt that he is one of the top coaches in the long and storied history of Tennessee football.
17 seasons, 152–52 overall, 98–34 SEC, 8-7 in bowls
National Championship — 1998
SEC Championships — 1997, 1998
SEC East Championships — 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007
SEC Coach of the Year — 1998
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year — 1998
George Munger Award — 1998
Home Depot Coach of the Year — 1998
Sporting News Coach of the Year — 1998
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame — 2001
1. Robert Neyland- (1926-34, 36-40, 46-52)
Photo Source: http://smokeys-trail.com/HallFame/general-neyland.jpg
With the most wins, and the longest tenure in Tennessee Volunteers football history, there is no question who is the top coach on this list.
General Neyland won Tennessee its first national title, and no other Vols football coach would reach that same pinnacle until Phillip Fulmer won the first ever BCS crown in 1998.
He coached UT football on three separate occasions, and could just never find a way to keep his distance, and that turned out to be a good thing for Vols football history.
21 seasons, 173–31–12 overall, 103–17–10 SoCon/SEC, 2-5 in bowls
National Championship — 1951
SoCon/SEC Championships — 1926, 1932, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1951
SEC Coach of the Year — 1936, 1938, 1950, 1951
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award — 1957
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame — 1966
College Football Hall of Fame — 1956