Tennessee Volunteers quarterback legend Condredge Holloway said Thursday that the university’s football program can withstand a current investigation into alleged recruiting violations and grow stronger from it.
“We’re going to change the culture a little bit and get things back,” Holloway, now a UT assistant athletic director, told some 100 people during a Bristol Chamber of Chamber breakfast at King College. “This is Tennessee, we’re not going anywhere. We’ll survive this little bump and go on.”
The UT football program is waiting to hear from the National Collegiate Athletic Association whether it will face NCAA punishment for alleged infractions that reportedly occurred while Lane Kiffin was Vols head coach. Kiffin left UT after the 2009 season: he’s now head coach at the University of Southern California.
“We’re not in the best of times right now, but we’ll be back,” Holloway said. “We’re going through a few changes that you have to [go through].”
Holloway – the first black quarterback in both Tennessee and Southeastern Conference history – made his remarks during an appearance to promote the Bristol Youth Leadership program, which helps area high school students become active in the community.
As an athlete at UT from 1972 to 1974, Holloway, now 57, led the football team to three bowl appearances and won 69 percent of his starts at quarterback – in addition to being an All-American baseball player for Tennessee. After leaving school, Holloway became a legendary quarterback in the Canadian Football League, playing 13 seasons and winning induction into the CFL Hall of Fame.
During his casual, often humorous talk, Holloway said he became devoted to sports when, after attending an integrated elementary school in Alabama during the early 1960s, many of his longtime white friends felt peer pressure to cut ties with him in high school.
“They had to choose sides,” Holloway said of his former friends. “I don’t think I ever got over that. In fact, I still don’t think I have. But I decided to put all of my energy into sports and not get involved in all that. I just said, ‘If you want to be around me, be out with me on the field.’”
Holloway , who works with both current and former Vols in his current assistant AD role, joked that he often gives today’s UT athletes the same advice he followed as a star player. “There’s not many [public] places you need to be in by yourself at midnight,” he said with a laugh.
The modest Holloway also poked fun at his famed nickname as a UT quarterback – the artful dodger – by noting that it stemmed from him having to constantly flee for his life from unblocked opponents.
“If everybody is blocked, you don’t have to run around like I did,” Holloway said with a laugh. “[The nickname] isn’t one I wanted to give myself.”
Holloway praised the Bristol Youth Leadership program and applauded the chamber and local businesses for supporting it.
“It’s good to see everyone is on board with what it’s doing,” Holloway said of the leadership program.
Earlier this year, ESPN aired “The Color Orange,” a documentary on Holloway’s historic UT football career. It was narrated by country music star Kenny Chesney, who was also the documentary’s executive producer.