June 22, 2012
Since WWII, home for the Vols has been Alumni Memorial Gymnasium, Armory Fieldhouse, Stokely Athletics Center and now Thompson-Boling Arena.
The names on the jerseys have changed countless times, the coaching staff patrolling the sidelines has seen a few new faces, as well.
But the whole time, a member of the Hankins has been keeping the time.
Sid Hankins, Jr., started keeping the clock at Tennessee basketball games in Alumni Memorial Gymnasium in 1944. Nearly four decades later, his son, Sid Hankins, III, took the torch from his father and has served as clock coordinator since. Today, the third generation of Hankins, Josh, is being groomed to step in when his father retires from the post.
"In 1975 or '76, I started substituting in for my dad at Stokely, just to get some training," said Hankins, III. "It's really special to keep it in the family. We've had a reputation as always having a really good scorer's table at Tennessee, and that's something I'll try to pass on to Josh."
Things are vastly different today than when the family line began back in Alumni Memorial Gym. Due to the scorer's table being underneath the clock, the elder Hankins had to use some creativity to maintain the clock's integrity.
"He kept a little hand mirror on the table so he could always see the clock up over his head," said Hankins, III. "He had a starter's pistol, too, that he'd have to shoot off at the end of the halves so the officials would know it was over. It was pretty basic compared to what we're doing today."
The mirror never missed, either, despite what the Atlanta newspapers say. During a 1956 game against Georgia Tech, the game was tied with mere seconds to play. Tennessee threw a full-court pass on the in-bounds play, however the ball bounced without anyone touching it before a UT player scooped it up and made a game-winner, lifting the Big Orange over Tech 76-74.
"The headlines in Atlanta the next day said something like, `Slow Clock Beats Tech,'" said Hankins, III.
Adolph Rupp wasn't a fan of Alumni Gymnasium either, constantly whining about Spartan conditions and low lighting.
"One year, Adolph Rupp came in wearing a miner's helmet with a lamp," said Hankins, III. "He made a point to come over to my dad and offer it to him, saying the lamp on top of the helmet would be of assistance to him."
While the senior Hankins's best stories all center around the good ole days, his son's best memories surround larger events.
"I've been fortunate to work conference tournaments, NCAA first round games up to regional finals," Hankins, III, said. "The only thing I haven't done is a Final Four, and I'm still holding out for that one. Tournaments are the most fun because you get to see different teams and it's an exciting atmosphere."
All the great memories that his father and grandfather have will one day be inherited by Josh. However, he may have to wait a few years, as the current clock operator is in no hurry to retire.
"Josh keeps asking me when I'm going to retire, and I always say I want to do it as long as my dad did," Hankins, III said. "Josh doesn't care much for that answer."
Regardless of when, the successor has been named. The family line will continue. Who knows where the Vols will be playing in 40 years, but one thing is likely--there will be a Hankins keeping the time.