This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of MemphiSport.
The University of Memphis has been playing football for almost one hundred years. In that time, the Tigers have given fans some great moments to celebrate and many more terrible moments to shake their heads at in disgust. After coming off a 1-11 campaign in 2010 and starting this season with multiple blowout losses, it has become almost impossible for Tiger football fans to not be embarrassed. This isn’t the first time Memphis fans have wanted to cover their heads with brown paper sacks and it won’t be the last. To compare where Tiger football’s current situation stacks up historically, MemphiSport has assembled the list of the 10 Most Embarrassing Losses in Tiger football history.
Tiger Football’s 8th Most Embarrassing Loss Ever
September 25, 1999
Tennessee 17, Memphis 16
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville TN
Sometimes choking away a win can be just as embarrassing as losing by 40 points. On this September day in 1999, Memphis missed an opportunity to pull off one of the greatest upsets in school history by knocking off then No. 7 and defending national champions Tennessee in Knoxville. Tennessee was still fuming over an embarrassing loss to Memphis in 1996 with star quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm and wanted to avenge that loss. Memphis waltzed into Knoxville as a 31-point underdog.
However, odds makers and experts did not take into account the complex defensive scheme orchestrated by head coach Rip Scherer and defensive coordinator John Thompson. The Tiger defense was able to put pressure on the Vols by executing complicated and confusing blitz packages and it worked for the first three quarters as Memphis held Tennessee to just 82 yards.
Even with multiple miscues, Memphis lead 16-10 with 1:31 left in the game. Then heartbreak happened for the Tigers as Tee Martin threw a 53 yard bomb to Bobby Graham to put the Vols on the six yard line of Memphis. Two short plays later, Tennessee scored a touchdown and a successful extra point gave them the lead with almost no time left on the clock.
List by MemphiSport, Descriptions by C.J. Hurt