June 12, 2024

Tuesday Traditions: The checkerboards and ‘Power T’

In the second installment of Tuesday Traditions, lead sports staff writer Sam Forman takes a look at the checkerboards and the ‘Power T’ logo.

Photo by Ben Ozburn

Photo by Ben Ozburn

When you walk into Neyland Stadium on any given Saturday in the fall, there are many things that stand out. One of those things is the unique end zones found on Shields-Watkins Field.

The checkerboard end zones first appeared in 1964 when Doug Dickey took over as the Vols’ head football coach. The first game of Dickey’s tenure was a 16-14 win over Boston College, giving the checkerboards a win in their first game.

The checkerboards remained in the end zones for countless great moments until the 1968 season when the artificial turf of Shields-Watkins Field was replaced with natural grass.

However, the beloved checkerboard would return in 1989. It has been a staple in Tennessee football ever since.

The checkerboard has made its mark on the history of Tennessee football from being transmitted through photos and shirts and being painted on The Rock. It has also been a part of many of Vols’ broadcasting great John Ward’s famous calls as the “Voice of the Vols.”

In 2002, the checkerboards found their way onto the baselines of Thompson Boling Arena and now can be found on the pants and helmets of the new Nike uniforms for the football team.

Dickey not only brought the famed checkerboards to Tennessee, but he was also responsible for bringing one of college football’s most recognizable logos to Knoxville.

In the 1964 season, the ‘Power T’ made its way onto the football team’s helmets for the first time.

Johnny Majors redesigned the ‘Power T’ in 1977 after taking over the football program. The logo has seen some small changes here and there, all while remaining one of the most recognizable and classic logos in all of college athletics.

Since making its way on to the team’s helmets, it has also found its way to the middle of the field in Neyland Stadium. The ‘Power T’ has become the official logo for every sport but women’s basketball.

The ‘Power T’ has recently become the official logo of the university.

Featured image by Ben Ozburn

Edited by Cody McClure


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Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman