Robert Reese Neyland (pronounced KNEE-land), MBE (February 17, 1892 – March 28, 1962) was an American football player and coach and officer in the United States Army, reaching the rank of brigadier general. He served three stints as the head football coach as the University of Tennessee (1926–1934, 1936–1940, 1946–1952). He is one of two college football coaches to have won national titles in two non-consecutive tenures at the same school, along with Frank Leahy. Neyland holds the record for most wins in Tennessee Volunteers history with 173 wins in 216 games, six undefeated seasons, nine undefeated regular seasons, seven conference championships, and four national championships. At Tennessee, he reeled off undefeated streaks of 33, 28, 23, 19, and 14 games.
Neyland is often referred to as one of the best, if not the best, defensive football coaches ever. Sports Illustrated named Neyland as the defensive coordinator of its all-century college football team in its "Best of the 20th Century" edition. 112 of his victories came via shutout. In 1938 and 1939, Neyland's Vols set NCAA records when they shut out 17 straight opponents for 71 consecutive shutout quarters. His '39 squad is the last NCAA team in history to hold every regular season opponent scoreless.
Neyland was also an innovator. He is credited with being the first coach to utilize sideline telephones and game film to study opponents. His teams also were some of the first to wear lightweight pads and tearaway jerseys. Such measures increased his players' elusiveness and exemplify Neyland's "speed over strength" philosophy. Neyland is also famous for creating the seven "Game Maxims" of football that many coaches, on all levels, still use. Tennessee players recite the maxims before every game in the locker room as a team.
Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee is not only named for "The General", but was designed by him. His plans included all expansions that have brought the stadium to its modern size with an over 100,000 seat capacity. Neyland was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1956.
On November 12, 2010, a 9-foot, nearly 1,500-pound bronze statue of General Neyland was unveiled between gates 15A and 17 at Neyland Stadium. The statue, which was commissioned by artist Blair Buswell, is twice life-size. Since Neyland is portrayed in the kneeling position rather than standing, the statue is nine feet tall (a standing statue would have stood 12 feet tall). The statue weighs approximately 1,500 pounds, and the base is 57" by 87" and features the seven Game Maxims engraved into the precast.
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... Year Coach Selectors Record Bowl 1938 Robert Neyland CFRA, Dunkel, Billingsley, CFI, Litkenhous, Boand, Houlgate, Poling, NSFR, Frye, Massy, Koger, McCarty, Libby, Maxwell ...