I’ve read all about his accomplishments as a player, including the Heisman Trophy he should have won in 1956, playing tailback on a Tennessee team which went undefeated during the regular season.
But even more importantly for me, Coach Majors roamed the sidelines during some of my fondest childhood memories of Tennessee football.
In 1982, I attended my first-ever Tennessee-Alabama game as the iconic Bear Bryant brought his second-ranked Crimson Tide to Neyland Stadium. I watched in awe as Mike Terry, sporting his all orange Tennessee uniform, intercepted a fourth down pass in the endzone with 17 seconds remaining to secure a 35-28 Tennessee victory.
I stood and watched from my seats with my dad that day, in utter amazement as the fans stormed the field and ripped down the goal posts. From that point forward, it was no longer a choice: Tennessee football would be a fixture in my life, forever.
I credit Johnny Majors (along with the players on the field of course) for that great day, and the many more that followed.
For of man of his age, Coach Majors’ memory of specific details is amazing. And yet, he’s forgotten more about the history and tradition of the storied Tennessee football program than most of us could ever hope to know—by a long shot.
I was thrilled to catch his radio segment on SportsTalk this past Friday, and I was even more excited to listen to him talk about Butch Jones.
I’ve bolded a few points for emphasis.
I talked to Coach Jones just briefly. I try not to take up too much of his time, but I go to practice normally once a week on average. But I went by to see him briefly over the open date. I mentioned this to him and the athletic director as well, both of them, Dave Hart of course.
I’ve seen a lot of games as a head coach and an assistant coach when I first started coaching. I said, I doubt that there’s ever been a team and a coaching staff that ever did a better job at one game in the entire history of this school, because it was well coached—extremely well coached—with some big decisions made.
Most fans would love for you to go for it on 4th-and-1 on your own two yard line. They’d all be for it, but they don’t know the consequences when you do that and make a living with it. But when he did that, it’s easy to say ‘yeah I agreed with him’ if you didn’t.
But then he made that decision for the first time on their own 29 or 30. I said ‘heck yeah’. I said more than that, I said ‘HELL YES’, go for it. What have you got to lose?
They got robbed on a pass interference call that set up their touchdown. That was a no call. No call at all.
I don’t think any staff has ever made better decisions. And also, after the decision was made, you pull the trigger and after the decision was made, whoever called those plays did a great job of calling because two of them went for long gains on fourth-and-short, backed up.
And the players had to execute it and be well coached and believe in the coaching staff.
So that’s the best combination that you can put together. I’ve said from the beginning, he’s going to get the job done.
I said, “Coach you’re going to get the job done. It’s going to happen here and it will be in my lifetime.”
And I think it will be way before I’m gone. (chuckles).
Translation: Butch gets it.