Vol Nation is in mourning this Wednesday morning.
Former Tennessee head football coach and College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Majors has died at the age of 85. Jackie Sherrill, a longtime friend of Majors and a coach under Majors at Pittsburgh, confirmed the news on Wednesday according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The cause of death has not been made public at this time.
Majors was involved with the University of Tennessee for decades. He played for UT from 1953-56 and was named the SEC Player of the Year in both 1955 and 1956. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1987.
As a head coach, Majors got his start at Iowa State in 1968 before taking over at Pittsburgh in 1973. He led the Panthers to an undefeated 12-0 mark in 1976 and won a national title that season with a 27-3 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Instead of returning to Pittsburgh the following season, Majors came home.
The Lynchburg, TN native was named the head coach of the Vols prior to the 1977 season, and after early struggles as he helped rebuild Tennessee’s program, he eventually led UT to great heights. He coached the “Sugar Vols” in 1985 and won three SEC titles while leading Tennessee.
In his 15-plus seasons as Tennessee’s head coach, the Vols went 116-62-8 and 57-40-3 in conference play. He led Tennessee to two Sugar Bowl victories (1985, 1990) and took the Vols from 4-7 in his first season to winning nine or more games six times in a nine-year span from 1983-1991.
Tennessee and Majors parted ways in the 1992 season, with Phillip Fulmer taking over as interim head coach for three games in the start of the year and then Tennessee’s 38-23 victory over Boston college in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
After that, Majors went back to Pittsburgh and served as their head coach for four seasons before retiring in 1996. He was Pittsburgh’s assistant athletics director and chancellor until 2007.