UT VOLS, NATIONAL CHAMPS

by
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
January 12, 1999

On January 4th, I joined fellow Tennesseans across the country in watching with pride as the University of Tennessee Volunteers defeated the Florida State Seminoles (23-16) and were crowned national champions for the first time since 1951.

The win over Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl was no small feat as the favored Seminoles entered the game with the nation’s best defense, allowing opponents an average of only 214 yards per game this season. UT was able to pile up 392 yards of offense against Florida State while holding Florida State’s offense to just 253 yards.

All of this was accomplished before a record crowd at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium where the Volunteer faithful clearly outnumbered Seminole fans.

Throughout this season, Coach Phillip Fulmer and the team approached each game with a strong work ethic. They constantly emphasized teamwork and commitment in order to reach their goals.

After Peyton Manning left UT last year, critics predicted a rebuilding year for the Vols, and when running back Jamal Lewis went down with a knee injury in the fourth game of this season against Auburn, many doubted if Tennessee could remain undefeated.

But the team rallied together and committed themselves to making the season a group effort. Yes, quarterback Tee Martin set an NCAA record for pass completion percentage against South Carolina. And yes, Peerless Price made numerous big catches in the clutch. And yes, linebacker Al Wilson contributed greatly in the win over Florida. But ask the players, and they’ll tell you that their devotion to the “team concept” was what really propelled them to win their national championship.

This team is to be commended for never losing their focus even in the face of adversity. At every challenge, the team stepped up its level of play all season long. As Coach Fulmer said, “It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.”

I congratulate the Vols. With that kind of individual talent and an ability to work powerfully as a team, it’s not hard to see why the Tennessee Vols achieved so much this season.





Statement on Tennessee Volunteers Resolution
January 19, 1999


Mr. President, it is with great pride that I rise to acknowledge another NCAA National Championship for the University of Tennessee. Last year, I had the opportunity to congratulate the Tennessee Lady Vols on their third straight national women's basketball title, but just two weeks ago, the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team defeated the Seminoles of Florida State University in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, to become the undisputed champions of college football.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect season; a season of thirteen wins and zero losses; a season in which this national championship team pulled together to overcome tremendous adversity, including the loss of key starters to the National Football League, the loss of a Heisman Trophy candidate to a season-ending injury, and arguably the most challenging schedule in collegiate football, to attain the national title.

Today, along with my fellow Volunteer fan, Senator Thompson, I introduce this sense-of-the-Senate resolution recognizing the University of Tennessee Volunteers for their commitment to excellence, for their dedication, for their selflessness, and for their sportsmanship throughout the 1998 football season.

Mr. President, I, along with my fellow Tennesseans, watched with pride as the Volunteers marched their way through the 1998 football season setting numerous school records, Southeastern Conference records, and NCAA records. For players, coaches, and fans, it was indeed a remarkable season full of excitement, anxiety, and joy. From Jeff Hall's last-second field goal in the opening game to defeat Syracuse, to Peerless Price's spectacular touchdown receptions against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl, the Vols proved again and again that they can deliver in the clutch in a manner befitting a champion.

Throughout the season, the Volunteers functioned as a cohesive unit, rather than relying on only a few star players. Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer, the winningest active coach in college football, put it best when he said, "It's been an unbelievable effort...It's amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit." Truly a testament to the selflessness and determination of this national championship team.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the team, Coach Fulmer and his assistant coaches, and the outstanding faculty and staff of the University of Tennessee, all of whom contributed to this championship season. Finally, I would like to recognize the most important group, the group in which I am honored to be included, the Tennessee Volunteer fans.