Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones met with the media Thursday to discuss the Music City Bowl. During the press conference, both coaches addressed what each is doing to honor the other. For Tennessee, it is wearing the ‘SF27’ decal to honor Sam Foltz.
For Nebraska, it is wearing a ‘Mountain Tough’ decal to honor Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which has been greatly affected by a historic fire.
For Riley, he saw the decals as an opportunity for each program to stand in support of the other while representing each team’s home state.
“I think we’re two programs that really have a great, I guess, opportunity for representing the whole state,” Riley said. “I know we appreciate Tennessee wearing the SF27 sticker on their helmet. It means a lot to everybody in Nebraska that this tragedy that we had right before the season started with Sam passing away rocked everybody in the state. This event has occurred in every game for us this year. So we’re thankful for people reaching out and caring. We’re thankful for Tennessee doing it.
“As we watched and heard and learned about Gatlinburg and the Gatlinburg area, about the Mountain Tough symbol theme, we’re proud to be able to wear that as a thought for all these people that have gone through so much here in the state.”
“I just think it’s a great illustration of the respect of what both programs have for each other, but also for our players and everything that goes along with it,” Jones said. “There’s so much more to it than just football.
“For them to wear the Mountain Tough, obviously Gatlinburg is a big part of who we are, been very, very fortunate for all of our bowl experiences to be able to go spend an afternoon or an evening in Gatlinburg. The whole state means so much to us.”
As for wearing the ‘SF27’ decal specifically, Jones said it was something his players had already been thinking about. For him, it was an easy decision to say yes.
“I think that’s the least that we can do,” Jones said. “We had planned to do this awhile back, but Aaron Medley had first initially come to me and requested to do it. We already made the decision to do that.
“Again, it’s all about life, the respect that we have. Again, I think it’s what college football’s all about. I don’t know if there’s any other two teams in the country that are respecting what’s gone on in the respective programs like Tennessee and Nebraska have done.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.