Sometimes being a columnist for a small town newspaper has its advantages, at least I thought so last weekend when the Johnny Majors Invitational came to my backyard at Lake Tansi.

I mean, how easy does it get to write a story when the all the invitees and Johnny Majors walk into the Pro Shop where I work.

Well, at least I thought it would be an easy story until a Knoxville columnist followed Johnny up here on Sunday and basically wrote the story I had on Saturday. Since he was able to print his on Monday, well, it basically killed my thunder.

So, gone is the scoop that Johnny is moving back to his old neighborhood in Knoxville and that he is unclear what Saturday afternoons have in store for him at this particular point. But fear not, a few other details either slipped through the crack or were deemed unimportant to the Knoxville readers.

Overlooked was that Johnny Majors brought in over 160 ex-teammates, players, coaches and friends to the Crossville area this year for an event that helps the local economy and benefits a local charity. The Johnny Majors Invitational Tournament raised thousands of dollars this year for the House of Hope in Crossville. And each of the proceeding year's money has been donated back to the community as well. I think that is a far more important fact than what Johnny is planning to do on Saturdays this fall.

This year's tournament was the same as previous years outings that Johnny has at Lake Tansi. Many of the same people attend year after year to stay connected with teammates and coaches but mainly Johnny. It is amazing to hear the stories that fly around as groups meet up from so many different eras of Johnny's life and career.

From high school teammates and college teammates right on through to those that played for Coach Majors at three different universities (Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee). Of course the stories get better with age, but I am sure there is more than just a little truth in most of them.

The one story that his teammates from the 1956 Tennessee team shared with me surrounds Johnny finishing as a runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. You see most attribute the fact that Johnny lost out on the trophy because of the print media bias against the southern schools and the northeast's love for Notre Dame. It didn't help to dissuade this argument when the winner came from Notre Dame that won only a few games that year compared to Tennessee that went 10-1 losing only in a close Sugar Bowl contest to Baylor.

So, consensus among most southern sportswriters is that Johnny was robbed in the voting. But, his linemen tell a different story. They say that in jest Johnny always acknowledges them when they are present when he is giving "remarks" saying," I have a few of the reasons with me tonight that kept me from winning the Heisman Trophy.

Of course it is all in jest and the lineman think it is great that he still has a deep appreciation for them after so many years.

I have to tell you that these linemen that blocked for Coach Majors in 1956 are about the size of a defensive back on the current roster. Back then it was all about speed and technique, the center on the 1956 team is about the same size as Johnny is now.

My, have times have changed! Well, I just thought you would like to know that Crossville not only hosts these fine athletes and coaches but benefits from their generosity as well.

Let's hope that when Johnny makes that move back to Knoxville next month, that he continues to return to Lake Tansi each year with those that he holds in such high esteem.

With a little over five weeks until the kickoff of the 2007 version of Tennessee football, everyone should have "Rocky Top" on their lips and set for a great season. It certainly is starting to feel like football time in Tennessee. Go Vols!

Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent, and his column appears periodically.

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