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The Tennessee Volunteers football team (variously called "Tennessee", "Vols", or "UT") represents the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) in the sport of American football. The Volunteers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Having played their first season in 1891, the Vols have amassed a successful tradition for well over a century, with their combined record of 804-361-53 ranking them tenth on the list of all-time won-lost records and eighth on the by victories list for college football programs as well as second on the all-time win/loss list of SEC programs. This makes them one of the most successful football programs in NCAA history of all time. Their all-time ranking in bowl appearances is third (49) and sixth in all-time bowl victories. They boast six national titles in their history and their last national championship was in the 1998 college football season.
The Vols play at historic Neyland Stadium, where Tennessee has an all-time winning record of 445 games, the highest home-field total in college football history for any school in the nation at its current home venue. Additionally, its 102,455 seat capacity makes Neyland the nation's fourth largest stadium. The team is currently coached by Butch Jones.
Tennessee's football program began in 1891, when they played their first game against American Temperance, in Harriman, Tennessee. The program's first win did not come until October 25, 1892, when they defeated Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee, by a score of 25–0. Tennessee competed in their first 5 seasons without a coach. In 1899, J. A. Pierce became the first head coach of the team. The team had several coaches with short tenures until Zora G. Clevenger took over in 1911. In 1914, Clevenger led the Vols to a dominant 9-0 season and their first championship, winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. The Vols would again field an undefeated squad in 1916 under coach John R. Bender, but consistency was still elusive.
In 1921, Shields-Watkins Field, the core of modern Neyland Stadium, was built. The new home of the Vols was named after William S. Shields and his wife Alice Watkins Shields, the financial backers of the field. The field used bleachers that could seat 3,200, and had been used for baseball the prior year. The inaugural game at Shields-Watkins field was played on September 24, 1921 and resulted in a 27-0 Tennessee victory over Emory and Henry College.
In 1922, the team began to wear orange jerseys for the first time after previously wearing black jerseys.