General Neyland Project aims to honor legendary coach
By Chuck Cavalaris News-Sentinel sportswriter
Some foot soldiers in the University of Tennessee's huge fan base are trying to honor the memory and accomplishments of Gen. Robert R. Neyland, the Vols' legendary former football coach.
The GNP - for General Neyland Project - has a three-pronged focus.
In addition to trying to have the crowd recite Neyland's seven "Game Maxims" before home games, a local group hopes to:
* Raise up to $750,000 for a statue of Neyland near Gate 21 at the stadium that bears his name.
* Remove the power 'T' on the back of the JumboTron and replace it with a football pose of Neyland.
The idea has gained support since being initiated by UT graduate Pat Gang. Alan D. Ross and Jeff Brock, among others, have joined the grassroots campaign. Details can be found on a local sports message board on yahooo.com (type in Sports Parlor South).
"We just felt that a need exists to re-educate some of the newer or younger UT fans about what 'The General' was all about," Ross said. "It has taken a little while to get organized, but things are falling into place."
Neyland was UT's coach for 21 seasons, starting in 1924 and ending in 1952 (it was not continuous service because of military duty). He coached undefeated teams in 1938 and '39 and led the Vols to the 1951 national championship.
The group would like to see these accomplishments listed on the back of the JumboTron.
"We have a graphic on the Web site of what it would look like," Ross said. "A picture of him up there would be great because the Tennessee River was under Gen. Neyland's command when he served in the Army."
UT coach Phillip Fulmer has endorsed the idea. He understands the motivational value of a crowd reciting Neyland's timeless maxims, which reportedly will be "slowed down" for the LSU game on Sept. 29.