In just the second year of the Josh Heupel era, Vol football had its best season in nearly two decades. The Vols finished the regular season 10–2, securing its first win over the Alabama Crimson Tide since 2006 and shutting out Vanderbilt 56–0. The record-breaking season saw two campus visits from ESPN’s College GameDay for the Florida and Alabama games as well as a trip to the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, to take on the Clemson Tigers on December 30. With the historic season came some moments to remember. Take a look at a few that went viral.
Following the last-second win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, fans poured onto Shields-Watkins field and Neyland Stadium’s goalposts came down. The posts were carried through the stands, down the Strip, and eventually (in keeping with tradition) came to rest at the bottom of the Tennessee River. A search for “Neyland Stadium goal posts” on Google Maps shows their final resting place in the river.
It was a big season for dancing. Before the Florida game, Tennessee Athletics posted a video of clogger and Tennessee fan Zeb Ross dancing to “Rocky Top” outside Neyland Stadium. Just a couple of months later, Ross took his act, “Rocky Top” and all, to the CMA Awards stage alongside Peyton Manning.
During the Kentucky game, you may have seen the UT dance team on the sidelines frustrated about the security guard in a blue shirt interrupting their routine. When he’s confronted by DJ Sterl the Pearl, he breaks out into dance along with the team. The moment was featured on national outlets like Southern Living and the Today show. In reality, the security guard was alumnus Michael Galyean, who was asked to take part by friend and UT dance team coach Kelley Tafazzoli.
DARK MODE AND SPOOKY ‘ROCKY TOP’
The atmosphere in Neyland Stadium was electric for every home game during the season, but two days before Halloween, when the Vols took on Kentucky, it got a little spooky. With the Vols wearing their black and orange alternate uniforms, the strains of “Rocky Top” heard throughout the stadium sounded a little different thanks to fan Miles Kredich, who remixed it to be more of a slowed-down horror anthem. For days, fans online were posting that the song should be played in the stadium—and when it was, the crowd erupted into cheers. The original TikTok has been viewed four million times and the moment has gotten 800,000 views on Instagram.
The Vols’ final game in Neyland ended with a 66–24 win over Missouri and quarterback Hendon Hooker climbing a ladder to lead the Pride of the Southland in one last rendition of “Rocky Top.” Seniors Trevon Flowers, Jerome Carvin, and Maurese Smith lingered at the Power T in the middle of the field. And Smokey X, who retired at the end of the season, took his final run through the T and down the sidelines, joining Flowers on the Power T before leaving the stadium for the final time.
See these moments on Twitter and TikTok!
Additional writing by Andrew Peters
Images courtesy of UT Athletics