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Robert Neyland

Robert Neyland was a legendary football coach at the University of Tennessee from 1925-1952, winning four national championships and seven conference titles with the Volunteers. He played his college football at Army and after graduating from West Point served as an assistant from 1919-1924 following the conclusion of World War I. He arrived at Tennessee in 1925 and after one year as an assistant with the Vols he was promoted to head coach.

Neyland coached the Vols for nine seasons from 1926-1934, winning two Southern Conference titles in 1926 and 1932. From 1926-1932 Neyland’s teams were an incredible 61-2-5, his only losses coming in 1926 and 1930. His teams were 7-3 in 1933 and 8-2 in 1934, and in 1935 Neyland was called back to service by the U.S. Army, serving a year in Panama.

He returned to coach the Vols beginning in 1936 and picked up right where he left off. His teams finished 6-2-2 in 1936 and 6-3-1 in 1937 before reeling off three straight 10-win season from 1938-1940. All three teams were crowned SEC champions, and his 1938 and 1940 teams were both declared national champions. Tennessee was a combined 31-2 during that span, reaching Neyland’s first three bowl games in the process (the Vols were 1-2 in those games). From 1938-1939 Tennessee posted 17 straight shutouts and 71 consecutive scoreless quarters, both NCAA records.

Once again, Neyland returned to service in the Army during World War II, serving in the China-Burma-India Theater supervising the transportation of supplies to troops across the Himalayas. He was awarded the Distinguished Service medal and the Legion of Merit for his military service, and retired from the Army in 1946 with the title of brigadier general.

General Neyland returned to Tennessee prior to the 1946 season and coached the Volunteers for seven more seasons. His team finished 9-2 in 1946 and won Neyland’s third SEC title and fifth career conference championship. He won back-to-back national championships in 1950 and 1951 with a 21-2 combined record during that time. Tennessee was 1-3 in bowl games during Neyland’s final stint as head coach. His ’52 team finished the season 8-2-1 and 5-0-1, and Neyland retired from coaching following the season.

For his career, Neyland was 173-31-12 as a head coach and 103-17-10 in conference play. He was a four-time SEC Coach of the Year in 1936, 1938, 1951 and 1952, but his teams were just 2-5 in bowl appearances. Neyland was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956.

He also served as Tennessee’s athletic director from 1936-1941 and again from 1946-1962. Neyland designed the original plans to expand Tennessee’s home stadium from 3,200 seats to 46,000 seats, and in 1962 the stadium was renamed Neyland Stadium in his honor. General Neyland passed away in 1962 at the age of 70.

Coaching History Team Years
Head Coach Tennessee Volunteers 1946-1952
Head Coach Tennessee Volunteers 1936-1940
Head Coach Tennessee Volunteers 1926-1934
Assistant Coach Tennessee Volunteers 1995-1999
Assistant Coach Army Black Knights 1919-1924

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