In the 1950s, Alabama trainer Jim Goosetree slipped cigars into the equipment going to the Tennessee game. They were only seen if the Tide won the game.
"Coach Bryant brought the cigar tradition with him when he came to Alabama," said Goosetree years ago. "I'd have them packed away, but it was coach Bryant who would give them out. I don't recall anybody ever turning one down."
It was the only game that had such a tradition. It was then, and is now, against NCAA rules that govern gifts and also violates the tobacco rule.
Bryant didn't care about the rules, and neither did Fulmer, who revived it for the Volunteers in the 90s. Last year, John Parker Wilson refused comment over the cigar question.
Though Tennessee showed some signs of life in beating Georgia in their last SEC game, few give the Vols any chance of beating the Tide this year. The only real question in doubt will be whether cigars will be quietly passed out after the locker room doors close after Saturday's game.
Alabama is beating teams with a crippling defense that is giving up touchdowns with an eye-dropper.
This is bad news for Tennessee, who has a worse record than their already bad record of offensive output against teams with strong defenses.
Tennessee was a bottom of the pack SEC team last year struggling to make it to a mid pack team this year. Even a trip to a Weedeater Bowl game would be an accomplishment for them.
A win against Alabama would be the signature win in the early career of Lane Kiffin. It would lift Tennessee back to a mid-pack team and it guarantee them a lot of notice from a lot of bowls.
Given Tennessee's penchant for giving up yardage to good rushing teams, get ready for a lot of tired Volunteers. Alabama will own the possession time, wear out the Vol defense by pounding them with at least three backs. Alabama will score—and score a lot—on this team.
The real questions of this game is what will Lane Kiffin do to counter this defense and score some points of his own, and will there be victory cigars?