During General Neyland’s final stint as Tennessee’s head coach (1946-1952) was his series coaching against Bear Bryant at Kentucky. Bryant began his Kentucky head coaching tenure in 1946 and ending in 1953.
The General and Bear squared off annually from 1946-1952 with Neyland never losing, going 5-0-2 against Bryant.
Neyland retired following the 1952 season as Harvey Robinson took over as UT’s head coach. Bryant would stay as Kentucky’s head coach one more season, leaving for Texas A&M after the 1953 season.
Bryant was finally victorious over the Vols in 1953, winning 27-21 in Lexington. The win was questionable to some after Kentucky running back Ralph Paolone scored a touchdown after taking a pitch from quarterback Bob Hardy. Many view Hardy’s knee being down before pitching the ball.
With the victory, Kentucky would keep the Beer Barrel that was given to the winner of the game until next year’s contest.
The prized Beer Barrel was in Kentucky’s possession for the first time since 1935. With Kentucky possessing the Beer Barrel, the “Vol Phantom” stole the keg, citing that the Wildcats won due to benefiting from the referees.
Four days after the game, a group of UT fraternity brothers posed as UK fans and made their way to free the barrel that was stored in an equipment room at Memorial Coliseum. The UT fraternity brothers then took the keg and placed it in the trunk of their car. As they were speeding off, the keg rolled out of the car and they recaptured it.