By Dr. Ken 


There are events in everyone’s life that allow or force them to remember exactly where they were and specific details relative to their activities at the exact moment of the event. Primarily, we can relate this to traumatic incidents or milestone personal moments. As is standard for everyone of my generation, I can state with certainty that I was sitting in high school Social Studies class on Friday, November 23, 1963 when the teacher walked in, obviously agitated, and announced that we would all sit quietly for the entire class period. He went on to explain that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and was presumed to be dead. As this was the first of the political assassinations that marked the 1960’s and demarcated what became a culture of accepted public violence, it was deeply significant for the entire nation. Similarly, I clearly recall watching television on the early evening of April 4, 1968 and viewing a commercial for what was the national advertising introduction for the Buick Gran Sport California edition. As I was considering a cross country drive to Southern California to elevate my strength training activities prior to a try out with the New York Giants Atlantic Coast Football League affiliate, Westchester Bulls, I was a bit intrigued with the “California” reference to the automobile. The moment the commercial ended, an announcement was made describing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.


While it is not surprising that these events of national and international importance would leave indelible memories, it should not be surprising that football related events would do the same for those of us so immersed in the history, culture, and ancillary matters related to the game. As an employee of Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries of Lake Helen, Florida, the company that invented and produced the exercise equipment that changed the entire fitness and strength training industry, my duties for what was then a small company consisted of the proverbial “a little bit of everything.” All of the iron working lessons that began under my father’s tutelage when I was twelve years of age came into use as I worked in the prototype shop, welded frames, did the grinding on newly cut parts, operated the drill press, assembled equipment, did quality control inspection of outgoing pieces, answered letters of inquiry about the equipment and training, supervised the programs of visiting athletes and bodybuilders who came to train in the factory gym/showroom, and drove the company’s single tractor trailer. Digging the ditches for the in-ground sprinkler system was considered to be “bonus work.”


Having the experience of driving my father’s twenty-four foot flat bed truck between Manhattan and the Bronx or Queens to pick up steel, and having done it illegally since the age of fifteen, I was confident that I could drive a tractor trailer and undertook a two day crash course with our one company driver before heading to the local Department Of Motor Vehicles to take and thankfully pass my written and driving test for a Commercial Driver’s License. With CDL firmly in hand, I was out the factory door that very evening as I learned that complicated exercise machines, broken down literally, to the smallest possible parts, allowed us to pack thirty-three to thirty-five machines per load. With one rig to our still growing but small company’s name, we would drive, deliver, assemble, instruct, demonstrate, and bolt out the door to the next stop, continuing the process for one to three weeks until we had placed every piece of training equipment at the various gyms, clubs, college, and pro team facilities we contracted to, and then we headed home. We had permission to “back haul” sanitized garbage and other livestock products for the local Florida pig farmers so that we could as drivers who never stopped, rarely slept, and had a terrible time fudging the driving logs to show that we were not either on the road twenty hours per day or traveling at super sonic speed, make a bit of extra income. “Home” meant arriving at the factory, unhooking the trailer so that it could be cleaned and reloaded, driving the tractor to Daytona for a tune up and maintenance, and then twenty four to forty eight hours of focus upon family, eating ice cream on the beach, a complete workout rather than what we could accomplish on the truck or while demonstrating our equipment, and watching a football game at the local high school or on television if it was football season. My eight months as a full time driver unfortunately fell during the football season. I would savor time home and of course, whatever was football related until we were so rapidly back on the road again with the next delivery on board.


While we actually had the opportunity to attend a number of college games, and even walk into the Los Angeles Coliseum as guests of the Rams after filling what was their inaugural weight room, I came to appreciate the college games that we could see either while home or on the road. For reasons that have no connection to a significant event of time or place, the September 14, 1974 game between UCLA and Tennessee has remained stamped into my mind as one of the greatest ever. Tennessee, after a horrible start to the 1960’s, emerged as a national power when Bill Battle took the reigns of the program [ see HELMET HUT TENNESSEE seasonal summaries at http://www.helmethut.com/College/Tennessee/Tennindex.html  The Volunteers fell off a bit with an 8-4 mark in 1973 but for helmet fans, wore a wonderful looking white shell with two three-quarter-inch orange flanking stripes and their “T” decal on each side of the helmet.




Expectations were high behind quarterback Condredge Holloway for ’74 and with the team returning to their single one-inch orange center stripe that had served them so well for many seasons, the fans were excited about their opener against UCLA.




Knowing that the game would be nationally televised, my driving partner and I pushed hard to return home and I managed to walk into the house just as the game was about to kickoff. The game was also significant in the broadcasting industry because University Of North Carolina student Jim Lampley, the winner of a national search contest by the ABC Network, was chosen to be college football’s first sideline reporter. UCLA was entering the game with a new coach, new starting quarterback, and new running backs. Dick Vermeil took over a successful 1973 squad and his full time quarterback John Sciarra had taken over from future Hollywood heartthrob and long time actor Mark Harmon. The backfield tandem of James McAllister and Kermit Alexander had graduated to the new World Football League [ see HELMET HUT http://helmethut.com/WFL/WFLSun74.html ] and UCLA’s predicted performance was a bit of a mystery in the pre-season. This would however, prove to be a wonderful opener and a terrific viewing experience.


Quarterback Condredge Holloway broke many barriers at Tennessee and proved to be an all time great Volunteer

If I had to coincidentally watch any specific college game during the ’74 season, the televised opener, in an era long before television saturation with one or at most two offerings for the entire day and evening, was the one to see. Holloway, the first African American quarterback at the University Of Tennessee and first to start in the Southeastern Conference, proved to be as exciting as the billing he had earned throughout the ’73 season. As noted by Sports Illustrated’s report of the game, “…about the only sure way to beat Tennessee is to put Condredge Holloway in the hospital. UCLA did that. But failed to keep him there. Holloway charged out of the emergency room and back onto the field in time to twist his way through the UCLA defenders like a man skittering across ice floes, a performance he climaxed with a 12-yard run late in the game, landing on his head as he hurdled three men at the goal line.” The description of this one fabulous run was but a peek at what the elusive Holloway had done and typical of his dash and dart style that was on display the entire game.


With all of the changes at UCLA, few knew what to expect but their quarterback, John Sciarra, was more than up to the task in directing the Veer.



One of the most memorable sequences of the game, and an unknowing look to the future, was the Volunteers’ opening sequence of plays. For some reason, the play calling decision stayed with me and when I returned to high school coaching after an absence of twelve years, it was something that our Malverne High School teams did rather frequently. Tennessee ran a dive play from their own Veer formation on the first play and then rushed to the line in “no huddle offense” style with Holloway taking the snap, faking the dive and dropping back to heave a seventy-four yard bomb to future New England Patriot star receiver Stanley Morgan. Conservative Tennessee, no huddle rush to the line of scrimmage, standard and traditional dive play, then a fake dive and surprise long pass, wow! To this day I can visualize that entire sequence unfolding and though seen constantly in every college and pro game for a number of years, this was very heady stuff for 1974. A “back story” to this play was the introduction of “sideline reporting” and Lampley’s appearance in this Knoxville game. As a brand new innovation, the producers for ABC Sports were sure to put Lampley on frequently and the very first time, he said with certainty that he knew the play was coming because “Condredge told me he’d throw a touchdown pass on the first play of the game.” Lampley could in fact say that with certainty because at the pre-game interview and meeting both Holloway and Lampley obviously had hit it off and the Tennessee quarterback revealed the surprise play that would come on the first or second snap of the game if the Vols possessed the ball. This very much helped to establish the sideline reporter as the mainstay it would become in the game.


The 10-3 Vols halftime lead seemed shaky though, as Holloway was taken to the hospital with what appeared to be a fractured shoulder late in the second quarter. Pat Ryan, who later proved to be very capable through a thirteen year pro career, all but his last in Philadelphia spent with the N.Y. Jets, was, on this day, unfortunately, an untested sophomore replacement. Sciarra was no slouch! In a time when big number offense was atypical, he led the Bruins to almost 400 total yards against Tennessee but was met by the traditional staunch UT defense who pushed back a number of goal line plays. Unfortunately, Ryan fumbled at his own goal line and literally gave a TD away to UCLA. With fans of both teams sweating out the back and forth pulse of the game, the stadium erupted as Holloway sprinted back onto the field late in the third quarter, “helping” the doctors make the decision that he could in fact leave the hospital and rush back to the stadium to finish the game. By the fourth quarter, the Frank Merriweather style heroics of Holloway became the stuff of Volunteer legend as he took his team downfield on a last, desperate drive while trailing 17-10. Of course, he completed the scenario with a diving, hurdling play over a defender into the end zone. Sciarra, proving worthy of all the accolades he would garner as an All American in 1975, utilized the final seconds of the game to place his UCLA squad into field goal position but the victory was not to be there for either team. As unsatisfying as a tie is for players, coaches, and fans, the 1974 UCLA at Tennessee game ranks as one of the best for drama, fortitude, and excitement.



Unfortunately, the tie with UCLA would be one of two during the 1974 season. That the other was against Vanderbilt in the traditional regular season finale, a game that Tennessee had not lost since 1964 and one that they were literally never expected to lose, even though Vandy boasted a vastly improved team with an identical 7-3-2 record, rankled UT’s boosters. A post-season Liberty Bowl victory against Maryland was not enough to take heat off of Coach Battle and after ‘75’s 7-5 record, a disaster by Tennessee standards, especially in light of Battle’s previous success, he was in trouble, eventually replaced by Vols’ legend Johnny Majors following the 1976 season. Holloway was successful in the CFL and returned to Tennessee as an athletic administrator. UCLA head coach Dick Vermeil of course, went on to lengthy careers in the NFL and broadcasting, being successful in both. I believe we all have games that for numerous or personal reasons strike a chord that remains in our consciousness, and this game was one for me.