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Kentucky-Tennessee Beer Barrel, 1985

Posted on October 28, 2017 | in Uncategorized | by

The Beer Barrel in the Tennessee locker room at Commonwealth Stadium after the Volunteers’ 42-0 victory over Kentucky on Nov. 23, 1985. The Beer Barrel went to the winner of the annual game between the SEC schools. Kentucky and Tennessee began playing football in 1893, but in 1925 they also decided they should have a trophy to enhance their rivalry. Rollie M. Guthrie, then a Kentucky student, remembers drinking Cokes with friends in Casey Jones’ Lexington Drug Store. “We were talking about Purdue having the Old Oaken Bucket and Michigan the Little Brown Jug,” Guthrie recalled in “The Wildcats,” Russell Rice’s history of Kentucky football. “We decided to come up with something symbolic of both states. We immediately thought of moonshine whiskey and started to hunt for a whiskey barrel. When the Women’s Christian Temperance Union got wind of what we were going to do, their protests were vigorous, so we settled for a beer keg.” After the students learned that the temperance group also found the beer keg objectionable, they carried the orange, blue and white barrel onto Stoll Field on Thanksgiving Day 1925 with “ice water” painted on it. Surrounded by bands from Kentucky and Tennessee playing “How Dry I Am,” student representatives from each school drank water from the barrel. Over the years, the barrel was “kegnapped” several times in student raids. The blue-and-orange barrel stayed at the home of the winning team from 1925 until 1998, when an alcohol-related crash killed a Kentucky player and an Eastern Kentucky University student, and injured the driver, also a Kentucky player. The crash occurred a week before the Kentucky-Tennessee game. At the time it was retired, the barrel had been in Tennessee’s possession since this 1985 game, which was the first win in their 26-game streak over the Cats. Click here to see another image from our archives of the Beer Barrel, this time in Kentucky’s hands. Photo by Frank Anderson | Staff

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