Bill's Blog


Posted on February 9th, 2021

On Sunday night, Tom Brady proved that middle-aged quarterbacks can still lead a team to victory in the Super Bowl.  But Tom Brady is not the only old quarterback who can star in bowl games these days.  

Although he retired from NFL football five years ago, Peyton Manning is about to make a comeback as the star of bowl games himself.  Not the Super Bowl, but college bowl games, literally.  

The NBC Television Network is bringing back “College Bowl,” the classic quiz show that from 1959 to 1970 pitted teams of scholars from America’s top universities in a brain battle. 

Peyton will be the star of the “College Bowl” series, serving not as an academic quarterback, but as the host of the show.  Peyton will be firing the questions at the teams of scholars just as he fired passes in two Super Bowls and several college bowl games during his football career.  He is, in effect, moving from pigskins to sheepskins.  

Peyton is the perfect choice to host the new College Bowl TV series.  A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Tennessee, he was not only an All-American football player.  In 1997, he was named the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  

In hosting College Bowl XX-XXI (2021), Peyton will actually be building upon a College Bowl legacy of his alma mater.  In 1962, the University of Tennessee Scholar-Teers became one of the most successful teams in College Bowl history, winning four consecutive “bowl games” on NBC national television.  

The team was coached by UT Physics Professor Dr. Isabel Tipton.  She conducted campus-wide tryouts before selecting four students to comprise the Big Orange Braintrust.  The four scholars were Joe Gorman, Anne Dempster, David Rubin, and Harold Wimberly.  Their names are not as well known as those of Johnny Majors, Peyton Manning, Reggie White, and Tee Martin, but for a few weeks in the Spring of 1962, they were heroes in the football-crazy town of Knoxville and throughout the Volunteer State, as they won nationally-televised battles against Manhattan College, King’s College, and the University of Rhode Island.  

When they returned from New York City to Knoxville after their fourth consecutive College Bowl victory, they received a police escort through downtown Knoxville for a ticker tape parade.   

UT President Dr. Andy Holt led the parade, triumphantly proclaiming the UT College Bowl team had achieved his goal for the university: “I wanted to build an academic program that would make our football team proud!” 

It is not known at this time whether UT will be one of the twelve universities selected to compete in the upcoming new College Bowl TV series.  But a UT Phi Beta Kappa quarterback will be the star of each College Bowl game. 

I hope when he hosts the show, Peyton will wear an orange mortarboard!  


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