(UNDATED) -- Bob Davis, center on Tennessee’s 1951 national championship team and a longtime coach and administrator in the UT athletics department, died Sunday at UT Medical Center. He was 81.
The Bluefield, W.Va., native was born Jan. 15, 1930. He came to Tennessee in 1948 along with his twin brother, Dick, who was a UT basketball player and later assistant basketball coach at Florida.
While at Beaver High School in Bluefield, Bob Davis played football, basketball and baseball from 1945-47. He was football captain his senior year.
Davis then was part of the Tennessee recruiting class that led to the last great years of the Gen. Robert R. Neyland era. As a member of the UT teams from 1949-51, the Vols won the national championship in 1951 and compiled a mark of 28-4-1. Davis was so adept at snapping the ball in the single-wing system that he was named to an all-time Tennessee team selected by the Knoxville Journal in the 1950s.
Inducted into the U.S. Army after graduation, Davis gained his first coaching experience at Fort Jackson, S.C., where his information officer was another future UT athletics employee, Haywood Harris. Davis’ Golden Arrows team put together an 18-2-2 worksheet in 1953-54. An assistant in 1953, Davis moved up to head coach in 1954.
After his army days, he was named an assistant football coach at Sevier County High School in 1955 and held the head coaching position from 1956-58. The following year, while working toward a master’s degree at UT, Davis became a part-time football assistant to Ray Harmon at Carson-Newman College.
Davis was named to Carson-Newman’s fulltime staff in 1960 and worked as an assistant to Harmon until being named head coach in 1964. His two-year head coaching record with the Eagles was 11-7.
Vols head coach Doug Dickey hired Davis in December 1965 as freshman coach, and for the next 38 years Davis was intertwined in UT Athletics in various rolls. In addition to serving as freshman coach from 1966-68 and 1971-73, Davis coached varsity defensive ends in 1969 and was junior varsity coach in 1970 and from 1974-75.
Head Wrestling Coach
With UT’s reinstatement of wrestling as a varsity sport, athletics director Bob Woodruff called on Davis to be head wrestling coach and he served in that capacity from 1970-74.
Davis was named Administrative Assistant to the Athletics Director in 1976, Assistant AD/Operations in 1986, and held the Associate AD/Facilities position from 1989 until his retirement in June 2003.
Davis was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and was honored at halftime of the UT-Kentucky game in 2002 with the announcement of his retirement.
“Bob Davis has had an influential career at UT both as a player and coach as well as an administrator,” Dickey said at that time. “He has earned a position of respect and those who follow him will be guided by his example.”
The family will receive friends Thursday from 5-8 p.m. at Rose Mortuary, Mann’s Heritage Chapel, on Kingston Pike. Interment will be at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery, 2200 E. John Sevier Hwy., Friday at 11:30 a.m.
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