Records, as the saying goes, are meant to be broken. Well, most records are.
Some numbers, by their very nature are so impressive that it seems unlikely that they’ll ever be toppled. The rich history of Tennessee football is full of such numbers.
Here are five that are likely to stand for a long while — or maybe forever.
1. Andy Spiva’s 547 career tackles
Spiva was a tacking machine from 1973-76. His tackles mark is not only the UT record, but also the SEC record. And it looks pretty nearly unbreakable. Part of this is a statistical issue — SEC defenses in the mid-‘70s faced virtually no passing attacks, and accordingly, linebackers and safeties could bulk up their tackle numbers in run support.
But this should take nothing away from Spiva. After a quiet 25 tackles as a freshman, in the final three seasons of his career, he amassed 163, 165, and 194 tackles. How hard would it be to beat Spiva’s record?
Well, second place on the UT tackles list is 2011-2014 linebacker A.J. Johnson. Johnson was a tackling star, but also stuck around for four seasons in the orange and white — and in his best year, he had 138 stops — 56 short of Spiva’s top season. This is why Johnson ended up 122 tackles short of Spiva’s record.
Current UT star Jalen Reeves-Maybin topped 100 tackles in each of the past two seasons. In order to catch Spiva’s record, if UT played 15 games (winning SEC championship and two BCS playoff games) he’d need to average almost 22 tackles per game to catch up. Only 10 times in UT history has a player made 22 tackles in any one game. No way is Spiva’s mark going anywhere.
2. Chuck Webb’s 294 rushing yards in a game
In 1989, Vol star Chuck Webb ran for 294 yards in a game against Ole Miss. This is a record which will probably stand for some time. In Butch Jones’s spread-based offense, it’s unlikely that any one runner would get enough carries to approach the record. And even if a back was running so well that the mark came within reach, the game would likely be a blowout, and the star would spend the end of the game on the bench.
In the history of UT football, there have only been 18 200-plus yard rushing games. So a back having one of the top 20 running games in the history of UT football would only need another hundred yards to reach Webb. Not likely.
Only three Vols have topped 200 in the 21st century, and the leader of those was Travis Stephens in 2001 with 226 yards.
3. Peyton Manning’s 11,201 passing yards
In a hypothetical world, imagine that you could find a QB who was so talented that he was ready to start — and star — from Day 1. Imagine that QB could put up 3,000 passing yards per year. Bear in mind that there have been a total of four 3,000-yard passing seasons in UT football history — and that two were by Peyton Manning.
But after three years, assuming that this phenom stayed healthy as well, he’d be 2,200 yards short of Manning and doubtlessly headed to the NFL. Even a solid four-year starter like second place UT passer Casey Clausen ended up about 1,500 yards behind Manning. Given the rise of passing in recent seasons, you can never say never on a record. But you almost can on this one.
4. Fuad Reveiz’s eight 50-plus yard field goals in a season
Tennessee has fielded some excellent kickers. But it looks doubtful that we’ll ever see a Vol kicker have a season in which he nails more than eight 50+ yard field goals.
Part of the issue lies in the rules — once upon a time, the NCAA allowed the use of kicking tees on field goals, which certainly didn’t hurt Reveiz’s kicking distance. That said, the big-legged kicker hit a 60-yarder back in 1982, so he wasn’t coming by these kicks cheaply.
UT kickers have made a total of 37 field goals from 50 or more yards. The name that appears on that list second most frequently to Reveiz is James Wilhoit. The steady 21st century star had four — but never more than two in any season, much less nine. It will take an amazing kicker to approach Reveiz’s numbers, much less beat them.
5. 15 straight shutouts
Yes, football was very different in the late 1930s and early 1940s than today. But whatever era your team plays in, dealing 15 consecutive shutouts is the sort of thing you’d be insane to expect to ever see again in college football.
General R.R. Neyland’s Volunteers somehow managed that feat from November 5, 1938 to January 1, 1940, and if there’s one single UT record that’s beyond unlikely to fall, this is it.
Source: Saturday Down South