Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Vols: Five thousand days and counting


The Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the Vols, 5,000 days of winning … and counting

Alabama Crimson Tide fans bored with counting days since Tennessee beat the Tide cannot be faulted. It was so long ago. For many other Alabama football fans, every milestone since October 19, 2006, deserves celebration. On June 28, 2020, the count is 5,000 days. Another count could also be made. The number of ways Alabama Crimson Tide fans hate the Tennessee Vols.

Most Tide fans, who remember the history going back to the mid-1990s and earlier, detest the Vols. Perhaps some of us inherited that hatred from Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant who hated losing to Tennessee more than any other school.

The intensity of the rivalry goes back much earlier than the Bryant era. From the 1938 season through the 1960 season the Vols held the upper hand. During that interval, the Tide’s record against the Vols was 5-13-4. Bryant flipped the script. From the 1961 season through the 1981 season, the Tide record against the Vols was 16-4-1. In those 16 wins, were 11 straight from 1971, through 1981. From 1986, through 1994, the Tide record was 8-0-1. The Vols won seven straight from 1995-2001. Overall, going back to 1903, the Alabama Crimson Tide leads the series 57-37-7.

The current Crimson Tide win streak of 13 games is its longest run of success against Tennessee. The Tide has longer win streaks in its history. One winning streak over Mississippi State was 22 games. An active win streak of 22 games continues with Vanderbilt.

Beating the Vols 13 in-a-row is the Tide’s sweetest streak ever.

In the minds of many Tide fans, current Tennessee, Athletic Director and former head football coach, Phil Fulmer embodies evil. Even Tennessee fans admit Fulmer’s role in the exit (forced out is an accurate term) of Johnny Majors was disloyal and self-serving. From 1992-2008, Fulmer’s Tennessee teams won 151 games, including the 1998 BCS Championship. Ten of the wins were over the Crimson Tide.

In the minds of Tennessee fans, other than the 1998 Championship, Fulmer’s second-best achievement was Alabama football’s NCAA  probation. Not in dispute is what Logan Young did causing the Tide’s probation. He paid a high school coach, either $150,000 or $200,000 dollars trying to insure defensive tackle Albert Means would sign with the Crimson Tide.

Means signed with the Tide but never played. He transferred to Memphis. Logan Young was convicted of multiple crimes, including money laundering and racketeering conspiracy. While waiting for an appeal, Young was found dead in his home.

Many Alabama Crimson Tide fans accept the program deserved some punishment. During Young’s trial, testimony was given that Alabama boosters (along with Kentucky and Georgia) paid Means’ high school coach between $4,000 and $6,000 to insure visits with the player.

Means arrived in Tuscaloosa overweight and as a result, was buried deep in the roster. He had a decent career at Memphis. He has repeatedly claimed he was never given any money. Logan Young was not an Alabama alumnus and the Crimson Tide program stated it had no knowledge of Young’s actions.

But Young had a Bryant-Denny suite and claimed to have been close to Paul Bryant. The NCAA hammer had to fall. The Crimson Tide punishment was severe but could have been worse.

There are Crimson Tide fans who believe the program should not have received any sanctions. What burns deep is Phil Fulmer’s role. It was later disclosed the NCAA’s ‘secret witness’ in the Tide investigation was Phil Fulmer. There is a strong belief, Fulmer’s shared information also resulted in the NCAA stopping scrutiny of the Vols program.

During those years, acknowledged Tennessee booster, Roy ‘Tenn Stud’ Adams almost openly bought players for the Vols. He testified in Logan Young’s trial. Adams bragged how often he had broken NCAA rules. The primary beneficiary of the rule-breaking was Phil Fulmer.

Adams once said, “I knew the NCAA rules. I just didn’t care for them.” In 2013 the New York Times said of Adams,

"Adams revels in memories of the old days when he distributed cash with a wink to favored players. By his own estimate, he has spent $400,000 on food, clothes, cash and a handful of cars for college athletes."

Adams was a bagman not needing the money of others. His number of $400,000 was likely well below the real amount.

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For some of us, the rancor against the Tennessee Vols does not subside. As long as Phil Fulmer works for Tennessee or maybe as long as he lives, Tide fans will hate the Vols.

5,000 days and counting is not enough.