NEW ORLEANS — Legendary former Tennessee football player and head coach Johnny Majors has been named to the inaugural class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame, as announced on Monday by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Majors is one of 16 legends who starred in the annual New Orleans football classic. The first class of Hall of Famers spans seven decades of Sugar Bowl action and includes 12 all-star players, two national championship coaches and two individuals who had the rare distinction of both playing and coaching in the Bowl.
Majors played in the 1957 Sugar Bowl and coached Tennessee to a 35-7 win over Miami (Florida) in the 1986 Sugar Bowl and a 23-22 win over Virginia in the 1991 Sugar Bowl. He also coached Pittsburgh to a 27-3 win over Georgia in the 1977 Sugar Bowl and the Panthers were named national champions.
“The Sugar Bowl has had the opportunity to host many of the greatest coaches and players in college football history,” said Stanley Cohn, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “We wanted to have a way to recognize the best-of-the-best in our history – what better way to do that than to create a Hall of Fame?
“We believe we have an inaugural class which should go down as one of the most accomplished groups of inductees into any Hall of Fame. But let me tell you, it was very challenging to limit it to 16. There have been so many legends in our game, our future classes figure to be just as impressive as this one.”
The living members of the inaugural class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame have all been invited to New Orleans for this year’s Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Attendees and their guests will participate in select Sugar Bowl VIP activities and will be recognized on the field during the pregame ceremony leading up to the big Clemson vs. Alabama showdown.
In the 1957 Sugar Bowl, Majors, who was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, led Tennessee against Baylor. Majors was bottled up by a tenacious Bears defense, but he still managed 51 rushing yards and a key touchdown in a 13-7 loss. He later returned to the bowl decades later to find success as a coach.
In UT’s 1986 Sugar Bowl victory over Miami (Fla.), the Vols seized control of the game in the second quarter and never looked back. After trailing 7-0 in the first quarter, UT tied the game when Daryl Dickey hit Jeff Smith for a six-yard touchdown pass that sparked a run of 35 unanswered points.
Tennessee enjoyed a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback in the 1991 Sugar Bowl to defeat Virginia. The Vols scored 20 points in the fourth quarter. Tony Thompson rushed for 151 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth, including a game-winning one-yard touchdown hurdle over the line with 31 seconds remaining.