By Frank Gale
The second weekend in July is here and that means the Johnny Majors Invitational Golf Tournament weekend is finally here. The “Boys of Fall” from past glory days will be gathering with their revered coach to hit the links and swap stories (and some tall tales) from their time under Johnny’s guidance. It is always a fun filled weekend at Lake Tansi and it wets the appetite for the upcoming season for Big Orange fans in this area.
It is always great to have Tennessee’s legendary coach back at Lake Tansi. Majors was not only an All-American tailback and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1956, but a great head coach for the Vols from 1977 to 1992. He compiled a 116-62-9 coaching record during his tenure at the head of the program. After what Vol fans have endured for the past four years, that coaching record seems wonderful.
Cheer up Vol fans, perhaps numbers can be deceiving. When Johnny came back to Tennessee after guiding the Pitt Panthers to a National Championship, the road to an SEC Championship and a lofty No. 4 national ranking in 1985 didn’t start all that smoothly. In fact, a 21-23-1 record over the first four years, with only one bowl appearance and one winning season, probably tried the patience of many of the fan base back in the late '70’s. Sound familiar yet.
The Vols are currently going into what many hope is breakout season under Derek Dooley after going 23-27 the last four years with only one winning season in the mix. Granted, it took three different coaches to post those sub-par records; it still shows that brighter days could be on the horizon. Just like Coach Majors stayed the course in 1981 and led the Vols to an 8-4 record and a bowl game, Derek Dooley is hoping to see history repeated with his most experienced team since his arrival.
It seems like it has been more than a few months since the Vols played the spring game, but now August and fall practice are only a few weeks away. Before we know it, the ball will be in the air in the Georgia Dome and North Carolina State will be firmly in the crosshairs of our orange clad warriors.
Football hasn’t been the only thing noteworthy coming out of UT lately. Pat Summitt has been busy traveling this fine country collecting awards along the way. From the White House to Los Angeles, Pat has been honored for her character and achievements. In fact, many more awards and she might have to build an addition to her home to display them.
This week Pat received "The Arthur Ashe Courage Award" Wednesday night during the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. Tonight she will be in Jackson, TN, where the Jackson Generals of the Double A Southern League will host Pat Summitt Appreciation Night. That should be quite a sight when the Generals take the field wearing their special Lady Vol Orange jerseys. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the game with the proceeds going to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.
There is something that has been noticeably missing lately, namely Jim Butler. In fact, there hasn’t been a Butler sighting since the weather turned warm. With Vanderbilt playing the Vols at home this year, I am sure that we will be hearing from Vanderbilt’s biggest fan soon. In the meantime, I guess he is still dealing with his bruised ego after the overtime loss to the Vols last season sent his ‘Dores back home with their usual loss.
Enjoy the break in the hot weather and get those outdoor projects completed before the season starts. I really believe this is a year that will have Vol fans singing Rocky Top with pride once again. Go Vols!