Southern Culture

Saturdays in the South: Tennessee versus Pitt game deemed the Johnny Majors Classic

Photo Courtesy of the University of Tennessee

STATE SPORTS NEWS | Knoxville — A native of Lynchburg will be honored on Saturday as two of his former teams take the field for a noon kickoff in Knoxville. Johnny Majors – or John Majors as he’s known in Lynchburg – went from a local boy playing at Moore County High School to a big time athlete, coach, and athletic director who impacted thousands of lives.

Pittsburg will visit Neyland Stadium on Saturday to take on the 1-0 University of Tennessee Volunteers in what has been deemed the Johnny Majors Classic. It will be the first meeting of the two teams since 1983.

It will likely be an emotional game from both sides. On Tuesday, UT’s Twitter account tweeted a goosebump-inspiring video in honor of their former coach.

I never really thought I could play big-time football, but I knew I was gonna give it a try,” Majors can be heard saying in the video as he describes his first visit to Knoxville with his father Shirley Majors.

You can view the video by clicking here.

Though most locals know him from his days at Moore County High School, Huntland High School, and the University of Tennessee, Majors coached two different stints at Pittsburgh. From 1973-76, he served as head coach at Pitt. During that time he not only helped running back Tony Dorsett win the Heisman, but also put together a perfect 12-0 season and a national championship run. The Panthers beat Georgia 27-3 in the Sugar Bowl to take home the trophy.

“This is an incredibly fitting tribute for Coach Majors, a true coaching legend who made such a lasting impact at both Pitt and Tennessee,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi told UT Sports. “Every time I walk past our national championship display, I’m reminded—and inspired—by his legacy. He set high standards on and off the field during his incredible career.”

Majors returned to Tennessee in 1977 to coach at his alma mater where he remained until 1992. Following his UT coaching career, he returned to Pitt as head coach from 1993-96 and stayed on as a Special Assistant to the Athletic Director and Chancelor until the summer of 2007.

Johnny Majors is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame. The Vols retired his #45 jersey in 2012. During his time there he was a NCAA All American and runner up for the Heisman. He finished at Rocky Top with 1,622 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. The SEC named him MVP in 1955 and 1956. John Terrill Majors passed away at his home surrounded by family. He was 85 years old.

In honor of Coach Majors, UT will wear all orange for the first time in the Josh Heupel era in Knoxville. The Vols last wore their all-orange uniforms against Kentucky on Oct. 17, 2020. ESPN will broadcast the game at noon Eastern and 11 a.m. Central on Saturday. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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