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100 Days of Vols #98 - Hating Steve Taneyhill

Because part of the joy of loving the Vols is hating the enemy.

Streeter Lecka

If you're not familiar with Steve Taneyhill, click this. I should just stop writing now, because that picture is worth more than every one of these words.

The Gamecocks entered the SEC in 1992 and were scheduled to face the Vols on our now-customary Halloween weekend date. Tennessee raced to a 5-0 start and rose to #4 in the polls, but was upset by Arkansas and then lost to eventual National Champion Alabama. Still, thanks to wins over Georgia and Florida the Vols could still win the first ever SEC Eastern Division title by simply beating the Gamecocks in Columbia.

Enter Taneyhill, a freshman, whose golden mullet led the Gamecocks to a 24-23 upset win over the Vols. Johnny Majors elected to go for two and the win late to save the division title, but Tennessee was denied. You can argue that Taneyhill cost Majors his job.

This guy talked as loud as he looked. His antics, which included a mock signature on Clemson's tiger paw in one of his two wins in Death Valley, made him notorious and really gave South Carolina an early identity in the SEC. And especially because of the way he looked, you'd think, "No way we're getting beat by this guy..." and then sure enough, Taneyhill many times found a way.

However, it only happened once against us, and he spent the rest of his career paying for it. Heath Shuler and the Vols exacted revenge to the tune of 55-3 the following season. Then a rebuilding Vol squad won in Columbia 31-22 in 1994.

But the final act is my favorite. Senior Steve Taneyhill came to Knoxville having led Carolina to a tie with #14 LSU and then three straight wins by a combined margin of 194-67. But the Vols were ready. Don't blink or you'll miss the best part of this video:

Two of my favorite observations from this game, other than the 180 degree action Taneyhill gets while probably thinking, "Dude, I got this..."

  • How about Peyton Manning running from the sideline to the end zone pile on the blocked field goal touchdown that immediately followed the Taneyhill hit?
  • How about Phillip Fulmer dialing up the fake field goal at the end of the first half, and how genuinely excited (and maybe surprised) he looks that it worked?
The first hit might not be the hardest you've ever seen from a Vol defense, though it's definitely on the list, but for who got hit and degree of difficulty, it might be my favorite. And I love that our defense basically put Taneyhill - who to his credit came out of that first hit yapping - in the fetal position the rest of the day in a 56-21 win.

Taneyhill is apparently a successful high school coach in South Carolina these days. But the mullet will live forever, and I certainly enjoyed getting more than even with this guy back in the day.