NASHVILLE -- Tradition-rich programs Tennessee and Nebraska are using their helmets for classy gestures for each other during Friday's Music City Bowl.
The Volunteers, who are wearing their Smokey Grey alternate uniforms to honor victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires, will wear a "SF27" helmet sticker to memorialize Nebraska punter Sam Foltz, who was killed in a car accident this past summer.
The Cornhuskers announced earlier this week they would wear "Mountain Tough" stickers on the back of their helmets to honor the victims of the Gatlinburg wildfires, which caused 14 deaths and millions in property damage to the mountain tourist town last month.
"We're two program that really have a great opportunity for representing the whole state," Nebraska coach Mike Riley said Wednesday. "I know we appreciate Tennessee wearing the 'SF27' sticker on their helmet. It means a lot to everybody in Nebraska. This tragedy that we had right before the season rocked everybody in the state.
"This event occurred in every game for us this year, so we're thankful for people reaching out and caring. We're thankful for Tennessee doing it."
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said junior kicker Aaron Medley came to him requesting the Vols wear the stickers to honor Foltz -- the kicking fraternity is a close-knit group -- but the decision already was made to do so.
When Nebraska had to punt for the first time in its season opener, the Huskers ran just 10 players onto the field, leaving a void where the punter would be, and took a delay of game penalty in an emotional moment.
The Vols announced earlier this month they would wear the alternate uniforms as a show of support.
"I just think it's a great illustration of the respect of what both programs have for each other, but also for our players and everything that goes along with it," Jones said. "There's so much more to it than just football. For them to wear the 'Mountain Tough' stickers, obviously Gatlinburg is a big part of who we are.
"(We've) been very, very fortunate for all of our bowl experiences to be able to go spend an afternoon or an evening in Gatlinburg. The whole state means so much to us."
Riley said Nebraska saw what happened in Gatlinburg and felt the stickers were a good way to honor part of the state where it's playing a bowl game.
"We're proud to be able to wear that as a thought," he added, "for all these people that have gone through so much here in the state."
The Vols and Huskers haven't met since 2000, but the two programs have combined for more than 1,700 all-time wins and 11 national championships.
Both are showing their class with their choice of helmet decals.
"It's what college football's all about," Jones said. "I don't know if there's any other two teams in the country that are respecting what's gone on in the respective programs like Tennessee and Nebraska have done.
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