Robert Neyland was a legendary football coach at the University of Tennessee for 21 seasons (1925-1952) during three stints between service tours in the U.S. Army. Under his leadership, the Vols won four national championships and seven conference titles.
Neyland played college football at Army, playing starting end on the Cadets’ 1914 national championship football team. A superb student–athlete, he also won 35 games (20 consecutive) as a baseball pitcher and won the academy’s heavyweight boxing championship his final three years. After graduating from West Point, he served as an assistant from 1919-1924. As a major in the Army, he arrived at Tennessee in 1925 to serve as UT’s assistant football coach and ROTC instructor. After one year, he was named head coach.
Neyland developed one of the most efficient single-wing offenses in the country, complemented by an unyielding defense. Of the 216 games he coached, the Vols shut out their opponents 112 times.
During World War II, Neyland left his coaching duties and returned to active service, eventually earning a promotion to brigadier general. After the war ended and Neyland resumed coaching at UT in 1946, he was always known as “the General.” Although health issues forced Neyland to step down from coaching six years later, he served as UT Athletic Director for a decade and helped design the stadium. The UT trustees voted to name the stadium after him about a month before his death in 1962. UT dedicated this statue of him and his seven game maxims there in 2010.
The statue was created by artist Blair Buswell, who is also responsible for sculpting the busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame incoming class each year. The statue is located between gates 15A and 17 on the west side of Neyland Stadium.