Bill Battle, Johnny Majors, Kentucky, and the Weird Parallels with 1977

#1

DiderotsGhost

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#1
Looking back over the history of The Battle for the Beer Barrel, it's strange how much this game resembles the 1977 game.

1977 was Johnny Major's 1st year in a major rebuild. Majors took over from Bill Battle, who was forced out after a string of disappointing seasons. Battle was a brilliant coach, way ahead of his time in many ways, and hired at the young age of 29. His fatal flaw was that he was a terrible recruiter and talent evaluator. Battle was an assistant under Doug Dickey and had played under Bear Bryant. With "Dickey's players", Battle was able to wring out several big seasons in his first few years. 11-1 and a top 5 finish in Year #1, before going 10-2 the next two seasons. He even beat Bear Bryant in 1970 during his first season.

Eventually, Battle's poor recruiting caught up to him, though, resulting in 7-5 and 6-5 seasons during his last two years. In truth, Battle was probably too young to be coaching a major program and was better suited to be an OC at the time. He could've slowly been groomed into a great head coach, but he ended up becoming a wildly successful businessman, so it all worked out for the better for him.

Johnny Majors, however, inherited a mess. If we're being honest, Johnny was not the innovator that Battle was, but he was a much better recruiter and a brilliant talent evaluator. It took a few years, but Johnny slowly stocked the cupboard with both top-notch players and a top-notch coaching staff. Johnny's first season was rough, though; he finished 4-7.

Meanwhile, Kentucky was having one of the best seasons in its entire history. UK was ranked in the top 10 and finished 10-1 under coach Fran Curci. Curci was never able to come close to repeating this feat; he finished his career 15-28-1 over the next four seasons. Kentucky was also on NCAA probation during that 1977 campaign and was ineligible for a bowl game.

2018 is probably Kentucky's best season since 1977. Even with the loss to Georgia, they stand at 7-2 with two very good top 25 wins over Florida (which looks more impressive now) and Miss State. Their only other loss (aside from UGA) was an overtime road game versus Texas A&M.

In the 1977 game, Johnny Major's Vols were huge underdogs, but jumped out to a 17-14 lead. Kentucky came back and won the game 21-17, however, but Majors was close to getting his first top 10 win at UT during his first season.

There are, of course, differences, too. Butch Jones was not a "brilliant innovative coach" like Battle; Butch's shortcomings were of a different variety, but the overall result is the same. Pruitt inherited a mess similar to the one Majors did.

Overall, pretty shocking how many parallels there to that 1977 game. This Kentucky team is the best UK team since 1977. This Vols team looks a lot like that 1977 Vols team. Hopefully, the outcome is different this time, and we not only give them a game, we pull off the big upset.

GBO!
 
#2

VolinMC

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#2
Good stuff DG,thanks. I was 8 yrs old at that time and didn't really understand the game but like watching it and playing it in the back yard. A couple of years later was when I really got into the Big Orange.
 
#5

Backwards K

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#5
When Majors came to UT in 1977, the Vols closed out every year's SEC schedule with Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Majors did not complete a sweep of those 3 cupcakes until the 1985 season.

The late 70s and early 80s were some hard times for Vols' fans. in 79, In consecutive weeks, lost at home to Rutgers, beat 13th ranked Notre Dame 40-18 and then got blown out by Ole Miss in Jackson, Ms. Always one step forward, two steps back in the Majors years.
 
#7

DVols33

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#7
In the early 70's I was singing 'The Battle Song'. In 1977 I was a Bama fan. Beginning 1984 I was at UT. From 2013 to 2017 Bill Battle was AD at Bama helping build the powerhouse they now have. Isn't it funny how the world turns. Or in our case Not so Funny.
 
#9

illinoisvolfan1

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#9
When Majors came to UT in 1977, the Vols closed out every year's SEC schedule with Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Majors did not complete a sweep of those 3 cupcakes until the 1985 season.

The late 70s and early 80s were some hard times for Vols' fans. in 79, In consecutive weeks, lost at home to Rutgers, beat 13th ranked Notre Dame 40-18 and then got blown out by Ole Miss in Jackson, Ms. Always one step forward, two steps back in the Majors years.
It seemed like we always lost a game or two a season with Majors. I usually ended up disappointed.
Same with Phil except 1998.
 
#11

General Jack

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#11
Looking back over the history of The Battle for the Beer Barrel, it's strange how much this game resembles the 1977 game.

1977 was Johnny Major's 1st year in a major rebuild. Majors took over from Bill Battle, who was forced out after a string of disappointing seasons. Battle was a brilliant coach, way ahead of his time in many ways, and hired at the young age of 29. His fatal flaw was that he was a terrible recruiter and talent evaluator. Battle was an assistant under Doug Dickey and had played under Bear Bryant. With "Dickey's players", Battle was able to wring out several big seasons in his first few years. 11-1 and a top 5 finish in Year #1, before going 10-2 the next two seasons. He even beat Bear Bryant in 1970 during his first season.

Eventually, Battle's poor recruiting caught up to him, though, resulting in 7-5 and 6-5 seasons during his last two years. In truth, Battle was probably too young to be coaching a major program and was better suited to be an OC at the time. He could've slowly been groomed into a great head coach, but he ended up becoming a wildly successful businessman, so it all worked out for the better for him.

Johnny Majors, however, inherited a mess. If we're being honest, Johnny was not the innovator that Battle was, but he was a much better recruiter and a brilliant talent evaluator. It took a few years, but Johnny slowly stocked the cupboard with both top-notch players and a top-notch coaching staff. Johnny's first season was rough, though; he finished 4-7.

Meanwhile, Kentucky was having one of the best seasons in its entire history. UK was ranked in the top 10 and finished 10-1 under coach Fran Curci. Curci was never able to come close to repeating this feat; he finished his career 15-28-1 over the next four seasons. Kentucky was also on NCAA probation during that 1977 campaign and was ineligible for a bowl game.

2018 is probably Kentucky's best season since 1977. Even with the loss to Georgia, they stand at 7-2 with two very good top 25 wins over Florida (which looks more impressive now) and Miss State. Their only other loss (aside from UGA) was an overtime road game versus Texas A&M.

In the 1977 game, Johnny Major's Vols were huge underdogs, but jumped out to a 17-14 lead. Kentucky came back and won the game 21-17, however, but Majors was close to getting his first top 10 win at UT during his first season.

There are, of course, differences, too. Butch Jones was not a "brilliant innovative coach" like Battle; Butch's shortcomings were of a different variety, but the overall result is the same. Pruitt inherited a mess similar to the one Majors did.

Overall, pretty shocking how many parallels there to that 1977 game. This Kentucky team is the best UK team since 1977. This Vols team looks a lot like that 1977 Vols team. Hopefully, the outcome is different this time, and we not only give them a game, we pull off the big upset.

GBO!
Great write up, your contributions are always appreciated.
 
#12

njvols

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#12
Looking back over the history of The Battle for the Beer Barrel, it's strange how much this game resembles the 1977 game.

1977 was Johnny Major's 1st year in a major rebuild. Majors took over from Bill Battle, who was forced out after a string of disappointing seasons. Battle was a brilliant coach, way ahead of his time in many ways, and hired at the young age of 29. His fatal flaw was that he was a terrible recruiter and talent evaluator. Battle was an assistant under Doug Dickey and had played under Bear Bryant. With "Dickey's players", Battle was able to wring out several big seasons in his first few years. 11-1 and a top 5 finish in Year #1, before going 10-2 the next two seasons. He even beat Bear Bryant in 1970 during his first season.

Eventually, Battle's poor recruiting caught up to him, though, resulting in 7-5 and 6-5 seasons during his last two years. In truth, Battle was probably too young to be coaching a major program and was better suited to be an OC at the time. He could've slowly been groomed into a great head coach, but he ended up becoming a wildly successful businessman, so it all worked out for the better for him.

Johnny Majors, however, inherited a mess. If we're being honest, Johnny was not the innovator that Battle was, but he was a much better recruiter and a brilliant talent evaluator. It took a few years, but Johnny slowly stocked the cupboard with both top-notch players and a top-notch coaching staff. Johnny's first season was rough, though; he finished 4-7.

Meanwhile, Kentucky was having one of the best seasons in its entire history. UK was ranked in the top 10 and finished 10-1 under coach Fran Curci. Curci was never able to come close to repeating this feat; he finished his career 15-28-1 over the next four seasons. Kentucky was also on NCAA probation during that 1977 campaign and was ineligible for a bowl game.

2018 is probably Kentucky's best season since 1977. Even with the loss to Georgia, they stand at 7-2 with two very good top 25 wins over Florida (which looks more impressive now) and Miss State. Their only other loss (aside from UGA) was an overtime road game versus Texas A&M.

In the 1977 game, Johnny Major's Vols were huge underdogs, but jumped out to a 17-14 lead. Kentucky came back and won the game 21-17, however, but Majors was close to getting his first top 10 win at UT during his first season.

There are, of course, differences, too. Butch Jones was not a "brilliant innovative coach" like Battle; Butch's shortcomings were of a different variety, but the overall result is the same. Pruitt inherited a mess similar to the one Majors did.

Overall, pretty shocking how many parallels there to that 1977 game. This Kentucky team is the best UK team since 1977. This Vols team looks a lot like that 1977 Vols team. Hopefully, the outcome is different this time, and we not only give them a game, we pull off the big upset.

GBO!
Also think that although personalities are different, Pruitt is the most intense and hard nosed coach we’ve had since Majors.
 

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