"Mike Royster is the most misunderstood person on the planet. He would do anything for anybody at anytime, as long as you understand he is going to chew you and your entire family tree out before he did it."
-- Jim Reynolds, the Voice of UTC Football
Contrary to popular belief, UTC’s Mike Royster was not on the sidelines at Chattanooga's Olympia Park in 1904 to witness E.
E. DeLa Pierriere crossing the goal line for the Mocs first ever touchdown in a 5-0 win against Athens.
Yet when kickoff time comes around Thursday night at Finley Stadium at 7:37 p.m. - UTC vs. UT-Martin - Royster, a UTC and St. Andrews School (Sewanee, Tenn.) graduate will have witnessed 38% (40 of 106) of the season openers in Mocs football history
Yet thanks to his longevity of four decades as equipment manager, team traveling secretary and numerous other titles, the assistant athletics director has witnessed the college debuts of not one, but two freshmen named Huesman.
Current UTC coach Russ Huesman started his freshman season in 1978 and helped guide the Mocs to the Southern Conference titles inn1978-79.
Three decades later, redshirt sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman is now wearing the Blue and Gold and playing for his father in hopes of leading the Mocs to another SoCon title.
“Mike was mean then and he’s mean now,” said coach Huesman. “Actually, he is a vital member of the athletic department staff and does so much for this university.
Impressive Numbers Under Royster;
The 40 years of fall football weekends for Royster reveal some impressive numbers .. 1974- present
432 - straight games without a miss ... maybe the Lou Gehrig of college equipment managers
18 - states the Mocs have played in
9 - schools in Tennessee the Mocs have faced
(Austin Peay, East Tenn State, U. of Memphis, MTSU, Tennessee, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, UT-Martin, Vanderbilt),
7- Directional Schools (East Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, East Tenn., Georgia Southern, Middle Tenn. State, Western Carolina, Western Kentucky)
5 - SEC schools (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt)
3 - Heisman Trophy Winners
( 2008 - Sam Bradford, Oklahoma ... 2009 - Mark Ingram, Alabama ... 2010 - Cam Newton, Auburn)
2 - wins against No.1 teams; 1984 - Furman, 21-14; 1993 - Marshall, 33-31
1. Legion Field (Birmingham)– Just because of all the history there
2. Superdome, Liberty Bowl – for some of the same reasons and just to say you have been there
3. Doak Campbell Stadium (Fla. State) – The Indian on the horse with the spear and they are the only stadium I have ever been in that put a spread of food in the coaches box in the press box
4. Dudley Field (Vanderbilt)– just because I grew-up in Nashville and was a Boy Scout Usher in the stadium.
5. Any other stadium in the SEC (just because you grew up watching these teams and places on TV)- Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, Alabama
Best Football Atmosphere:
1. Marshall – in that old Huntington Municipal Stadium they were right on top of you and on you from the minute you walked out. I remember they jumped on Coach Moore calling him Phil Donahue.
2. Georgia Southern – The students are at your back and they are having a good time
3. TSU – what a great place to play and when Coach Merritt was alive a great college game day.
Has UTC ever left a player on a road trip?
The only player I remember the team leaving was at Wofford. The team had left and we were waiting on The Voice and here comes Cody Romans (he had been visiting family).
The buses have to make a loop around campus so we loaded him in the van and drove straight through campus and caught the buses so he could ride with the team. We still had to go back and get Reynolds who was still taking on the radio.
Best Story I
The equipment truck hit a deer one night on the way home from Georgia Southern. We travel with one passenger van and one 28’ box truck. Wasn’t pretty but we did finally manage to get it back to Chattanooga.
Best Story II
One time coming home from The Citadel we got to the ridge cut when I realized the truck was not behind us. They had been stopped for speeding. Richard Green and Chris Matlock (who is now the Head Equipment Manager at South Carolina) were in the truck.
The next morning Coach Nix called me into his office and said that the Sheriff of Catoosa County called him about a truck and van that were speeding. He told him they caught the truck but they couldn’t catch the van. We didn’t get any tickets but Coach Nix made sure I understood to slow down!
Best Story III
Sometimes when we have long trips we will leave on Thursday nights with the equipment just to get a head start on the team. On those Friday mornings I will tell the managers “we will go to the Cracker Barrel at 9:00 in the morning. If you want to go meet in the lobby. If you don’t be ready to go at 10:00.” One Friday some of us went to eat and as we were returning to the hotel to get everyone my phone rang and they told me they had locked the keys in the truck with the truck running. We had no extra keys. You can just imagine what that conversation was like.
Best Story IV
Coach Morrison had a habit of never wearing underwear. In those days coaches wore headsets like the old operators used with cables going everywhere.
A fight broke out on the field and he flipped his head set off but he forgot that he was hooked to a cable and it just about ripped his coaching pants off. I had to run into the locker room get another pair and as the players surrounded him he changed on the sidelines
Mike Royster is the most misunderstood person on the planet. He would do anything for anybody at anytime, as long as you understand he is going to chew you and your entire family tree out before he did it. Mike and I have traveled a million miles, and laughed a million times all in the name of Mocs athletics. I would never tell him this, but I love that big, curmudgeonly son of a gun. He bridges the gap of the old Mocs and the players of today. They all secretly love him too !!
-- Jim Reynolds, Voice of UTC football and basketball
"I knew of Mike before arriving to Chattanooga . Having previously been in Div. I football for many years, I had been around many equipment managers throughout the country. Mike is certainly one of the quality veterans in the business. Having someone with his experience and knowledge is very valuable to me and our entire department. He has (and continues to )served UTC athletics very well!
-- David Blackburn, UTC athletics direcfor
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