This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI columnist Lexie Little
November. Football fans bundle up as temperatures for 7 p.m. kickoffs dip below 45 degrees, and basketball fans break out their team-branded hoodies and vests before travelling to arenas. Regular season football comes to a close as basketball revs up, but stakes remain high both for teams trying to win out and teams trying to start strong.
Take a look back at notable November moments in “This Week in UT Sports History.”
Nov. 12, 1892
Tennessee’s football team, then a scruffy student-coached squad, entered its second season looking to make a name for itself in college football’s 23rd year. The independent team, led by captain Charles Moore, picked up Tennessee’s first-ever win in November on Nov. 12, 1892, defeating the Chattanooga Athletic Club 16-6 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
That year marked many firsts: the first win in November, the first win in program history, the first road win, and the first match-up with Vanderbilt. Tennessee lost all three games played at home, but they won on the road in the first game of the season at Maryville College, 25-0, and that day in Chattanooga.
A sport new to Knoxville, the home crowd did not seem to buy in to the sport with Ivy League origins as noted in The Knoxville Sentinel.
“Judging by the attendance at the U. of T. Sewanee game Wednesday, people don’t know that good foot-ball can be played here,” Frederick Ault wrote in the Sentinel column from Nov. 9, 1982. “The 200 or so lovers of foot-ball who went out to the game were treated to a splendid, clean, exhibition of this greatest of college games, and those who enjoy out of door sports, but are ignorant of the beauties of foot-ball lost an opportunity of seeing it played as it should be.
“…It is to be hoped that large crowds will see these contests and encourage the wearers of the orange and white in their efforts to uphold the honor of our university.”
Though it seemed Knoxville paid little attention to football, the paper did dedicate an entire column to the team and its match-up. The Chattanooga Republican, however, devoted a single paragraph:
“A game of foot-ball will be played this afternoon at the base ball park, between the Knoxville and Chattanooga teams. Both teams are in good trim, and a close and interesting contest may be looked for.”
The University of Tennessee team outscored Chattanooga by 10 points, which was surprising to some after consecutive losses to Vanderbilt and Sewanee. The Knoxville Journal said Tennessee defeated a team “much their superior in weight,” putting emphasis on brawn and on teamwork, which Tennessee displayed as the team spread the ball around with three players scoring touchdowns. Chattanooga’s brawn could not withstand cohesion from the men in orange and white.
“The athletic association’s team, while containing several good individual players, are weak in team work,” the Journal reported. The report of “Notes From the Hill,” much like that of the Sentinel, went on to encourage the community to support the budding Tennessee programs.
“Every one should attend and give the boys encouragement in trying to furnish the Knoxville public with some excellent amusement…The university band, consisting of 16 pieces, excels anything in the way of a band that the university has had for a number of years.”
The Pride of the Southland marching band celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, making it as old as college football. Knoxville caught on to the football fad and supported the band, both of which remain strong as evidenced by a come-from-behind win against Kentucky, 17-13, in Lexington on Saturday, nearly 127 years later — “Rocky Top” blaring.
Nov. 15, 2007
By 2007, few Tennesseans needed convincing to cheer for the Lady Vols basketball team on the road to an eighth national title. However, No. 9 Oklahoma tried to make the nation doubt Tennessee’s prowess in a thrilling neutral site match-up in Tampa, Florida. Shannon Bobbitt scored 22 of her 27 points in the second half, two of which sealed a 70-67 win for No. 1 Tennessee against Oklahoma with 3.2 seconds left on the clock.
Down by one point with 30 seconds left, two free throws from Alexis Hornbuckle followed by two more from Bobbitt saved Tennessee from an early season defeat in only their second game. Candace Parker scored 28 points in the match-up.
Actually, Parker scored 30 points. But two of them went to the Sooners. As she fought for a rebound off Sooner Courtney Paris’ missed free throw, Parker managed to knock the ball back in the Oklahoma hoop. She did, however, lead the Vols in scoring and picked up a double-double with 15 rebounds. Paris, at the time, held an NCAA record double-double streak of 63 consecutive games.
“Oklahoma really did a good job of staying focused and getting the ball inside,” coach Pat Summitt said of her opponent post-game. “Obviously, I’m proud of [my] team. Saw what I would call really strong character and commitment. We had to go with our veterans…Shannon Bobbitt obviously came up with a few huge things for us.”
Bobbitt’s 27 points marked a career high and set the tone for the team’s run to a second consecutive national championship, helping Parker and the rest of the Lady Vols’ front down the stretch
“I just took what the defense gave me,” Bobbitt said. “They definitely crowded Candace, and that’s what I like, and Candace did a great job of finding me, and my teammates did a great job, and I just had to knock down my shots.”
Tennessee finished the season 36-2, the only losses coming to Stanford and LSU in the regular season. The Lady Vols redeemed themselves, beating those same teams in the NCAA Tournament en route to another national title.
Nov. 13, 2004
Candace Parker and Shannon Bobbitt’s names stay in the minds of Vol basketball fans. On the men’s side, one name that comes to mind is that of Chris Lofton, a freshman in 2004. Lofton picked up 18 points while shooting 7-of-9 in an exhibition match-up with Carson-Newman on Nov. 13, 2004. The Vols routed the Eagles 95-59 in Thompson-Boling Arena.
Lofton would lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring two seasons later with 20.8 points per game and set records for 3-pointers, but early in his career, he battled for attention with teammates like fellow freshman JaJuan Smith. Smith shot 4-of-4 from the field and sank three 3-point shots, earning attention from coach Buzz Peterson.
“JaJuan Smith has had some good practices,” Peterson said. “Dane Bradshaw’s contributions are not going to show in the points column, but he had six assists and no turnovers.”
Bradshaw, a graduate of Tennessee’s journalism and sport management programs, now serves as an analyst for SEC Network’s coverage of men’s basketball. His six assists that night marked the most for the Vols, with Scooter McFadgon and C.J. Watson contributing three apiece. McFadgon scored 21 points in the game.
Despite double-digit wins in the first three games of the season, the Vols earned a losing record of 16-17 in 2004-05. Tennessee parted ways with Peterson. Tennessee named Bruce Pearl head coach on March 28, 2005, two weeks after UT terminated Peterson’s contract.
Current head coach Rick Barnes and the 2019 Volunteer squad take on Murray State at 9 p.m. in Knoxville tomorrow night. The game will be televised on SEC Network.