Tag Archives: University of Arkansas

A Witness to Miracles

25 Aug

Football season is upon us, and, like all fans, I am anxious to see what my teams are going to do. I have been lucky enough to attend a ton of games. Many of them have faded from memory, but a lot of them stand out for their drama and excitement. Of those, I can think of three that were gridiron miracles where my team pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

The first took place 1991. The University of Tennessee traveled to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame, and I traveled with them. I have already written about The Miracle at South Bend and will not repeat myself. Just know that the Volunteers were down 31-7 with a few seconds left in the first half. They came roaring back to win 35-34 and ruin a pretty good day by Jerome Bettis, who was just inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

The second miracle transpired in 1998. The Volunteers had made it through the first eight games without a loss and were ranked at the top of the polls. However, the Razorbacks from the University of Arkansas came to Knoxville with the same record.

Tennessee was outclassed for most of the game and were in trouble. Arkansas had the lead and the ball with a little over a minute to go. They were running out the clock, and over 100,000 people were stunned. Then, the miracle happened.

Clint Stoerner, the Arkansas quarterback, stumbled and dropped the ball.Fumble

The Tennessee defense recovered, and the offense drove the field to win 28-24. The Volunteers went on to win the rest of the games and the national championship.

January 8, 2000 was a cold day in Nashville, but the city was hot with excitement. The Tennessee Titans had a great first season and were hosting an AFC Wild Card game. Yep, the NFL playoffs were in Tennessee. The Buffalo Bills were here, too.

The game saw both offenses struggle, but Buffalo was up 16-15 after a field goal in the waning seconds. The next play would become one of the most famous in NFL history.

The Bills pooched the kickoff into the hands of Lorenzo Neal, who pitched it to Frank Wycheck. Then, he three the ball across the field to Kevin Dyson, who streaked 75 yards for the touchdown.Music City

The crowd was going wild as they realized he was going to score. Except, I was just standing there.

My seat straddled the line where Wycheck threw the ball, and I thought it was an illegal forward pass. The play would be called back, and the Titans playoffs would come to an end. However, the official was not in position to see the forward pass, and the play could not be overturned. The Music City Miracle was in the books.

It was a great play that propelled the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl, and everyone in Nashville is convinced that it was a legal play. I am still not sure. I am just glad that the official was still running to his position when Frank Wycheck threw the ball.

Those are my three football miracles. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of people have claimed to be at those games, but I can honestly say that I was a witness to the miracles.

What about you? Have you been in the stands to see miracles happen on fields of play?

The Longest Bus Trip in the History of College Football

12 Jan

It was 1999, and fans of the University of Tennessee were riding high. Our football won the national championship the previous season, and we went to as many games as possible. It was a chance to support our team and rub it in to rival fans.Tee

In November, the team had just defeated Notre Dame and one of the nation’s highest ranked teams. Next was a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas to play the Razorbacks. It was a journey that we had to make, but Fayetteville is a long way from here. To make the trip easier and more fun, a bunch of guys leased a luxury bus.

The trip was fun, but it was not easy. In fact, it turned into the longest weekend of my life.

We loaded onto the bus late Friday afternoon for a game to be played on Saturday morning at 11:30. The following schedule is true in every sense.

The bus took us to Tunica, Mississippi for a few hours of gambling. Of course, gambling took place before we arrive, but Tunica allowed for a more organized type. We gambled. We ate. We gambled some more. We ate some more. The hours melted away.

At some point, we were told to get back on the bus. Everyone was wired, and we horsed around all the way to the Arkansas campus. We got off the bus. We walked around campus. We met fans of both teams. We made our way to the seats.

It was sometime during the first half that I started feeling out of sorts. It felt as if I was in a fog. If I had not been sitting down, then I might have fallen down. That is when I realized that I had not be to sleep. It was Saturday afternoon, and I had not closed my eyes since Friday morning.

Obviously, I stayed awake during the game. After the game, I made a fateful decision. Go for the gusto and not sleep until getting home. Other people crashed. However, I was going to have none of it. I was going to stay awake for the entire trip.

When we got back to town, it felt as if I was in a walking coma. If zombies had been a popular thing in the late 1990s, then I would have felt like one of them.

I will not write about all of the activities that happened on the trip. To protect the guilty, that stuff will be left out. However, this trip has come to my mind over the past few days.

Two of the men who ventured on the trip have passed away in the past 48 hours. I was not close to either one of them and have not seen them in years. However, everyone who went on that journey have a connection. We took the longest bus trip in the history of college football.

Arkansas 49 Tennessee 7

13 Nov

The University of Tennessee football team hit another low tonight in their loss to Arkansas. The squad now stands at 4 wins and 6 losses and needs to win the next two games to become bowl eligible. In the past, the final two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky have been sure victories, but this year is different. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vandy is favored this week. Actually, they should be because they are the better team. That’s how bad things have gotten. Vanderbilt is better at football than Tennessee. Sad.

There was one positive about the game tonight. I watched it with my dad. He took me to my first game when I was six years old, and from then on I went to every game that he did. I imagine that a lot of adults would rather go without kids, but he always included me. I can remember riding in the back seat as he and my grandfather talked in the front. Our season tickets never changed, so the people around us watched me grow up. I still sit in the same seats. However, he doesn’t go much anymore.

In July of 1991, my dad suffered a massive stroke that affected his speech and paralyzed his right side. He spent years learning how to walk again and write with his left hand. He has worked hard and bounced back from an attack that most doctors expected would kill him. However, as he gets older the effects weigh him down more and more. For years, I took him to a few games that he felt comfortable going to. He took me, so I was going to take him. But, his one game this year was very hard. I doubt that he ever goes again.

I can sense my dad getting more feeble and realize that at some point he will no longer be here. That’s why watching games with him is so special. It is something we have done together as long as I can remember. A lot of sons remember playing catch with their dads. I remember going to football games with him. As I watched the game tonight, I realized that it didn’t matter who won or by how much. What matters is that we got to watch it together.