NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Both teams playing in the Music City Bowl have already announced that they will honor the victims of the Gatlinburg fires in late November. Tennessee will do so by wearing its Smokey gray uniforms with the outline of the Smoky Mountains on the helmets. Nebraska is wearing a “Mountain Tough” decal on its helmets.
Tennessee announced on Thursday that it will also honor a Nebraska player who passed away over the season – punter Sam Foltz. Foltz and Michigan State punter Mike Sadler were killed in a car wreck in July while returning from a kicking camp in Wisconsin.
The Vols will wear a decal that have his initials “SF” and his number “27” on Friday.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) December 29, 2016
Tennessee coach Butch Jones and Nebraska coach Mike Riley were asked about the decisions made by each side to honor those involved in tragedies close to the teams.
“I think we’re two programs that really have a great, I guess, opportunity for representing the whole state,” Riley said at a joint press conference in Nashville on Thursday. “I know we appreciate Tennessee wearing the SF27 sticker on their helmet. It means a lot to everybody in Nebraska that this tragedy that we had right before the season started with Sam passing away rocked everybody in the state. This event has occurred in every game for us this year. So we’re thankful for people reaching out and caring. We’re thankful for Tennessee doing it.
“As we watched and heard and learned about Gatlinburg and the Gatlinburg area, about the Mountain Tough symbol theme, we’re proud to be able to wear that as a thought for all these people that have gone through so much here in the state.
“I just think it’s a great illustration of the respect of what both programs have for each other, but also for our players and everything that goes along with it,” Jones added. “There’s so much more to it than just football. For them to wear the Mountain Tough, obviously Gatlinburg is a big part of who we are, been very, very fortunate for all of our bowl experiences to be able to go spend an afternoon or an evening in Gatlinburg. The whole state means so much to us.I think that’s the least that we can do. We had planned to do this awhile back, but Aaron Medley had first initially come to me and requested to do it. We already made the decision to do that.
“Again, it’s all about life, the respect that we have. Again, I think it’s what college football’s all about. I don’t know if there’s any other two teams in the country that are respecting what’s gone on in the respective programs like Tennessee and Nebraska have done.”