KNOXVILLE – Randy Sanders returned to Neyland Stadium for the first time as a head coach.
The East Tennessee State head coach played quarterback at Tennessee (1984-88) and was a longtime assistant coach for the Vols (1989-2005). Sanders returned to play UT when he was an assistant at Kentucky (2006-12), but coming back as a head coach was different.
“Everybody had asked me about that all week, and I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal because I had been back four times at Kentucky,” Sanders said following the game. “Turned out, it was kind of a big deal. I saw so many people that I hadn’t seen in a while. I saw a guy who was an RA in my dorm where I lived for three years. One of the ball boys came up to me and told me who his dad was. He was a manager when I was playing. I thought, ‘Holy smokes, that makes me feel old.’ I have ball boys who are my classmate’s son.
“I thought it was a nice gesture when they had ‘Welcome Back’ on the jumbotron. I can’t lie to you, that distracted me for a second. I thought that was a really nice thing. I didn’t expect it at all. It was special coming back. It was good to be back in Neyland Stadium. Now, I am looking forward to being back in Greene Stadium. I am looking forward to that, but it was a nice change.”