Tennessee Volunteers Football Traditions

April 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 


Smokey IX the Bluetick Coonhound - Tennessee Volunteers Mascot

University of Tennessee Photo by Donnell Field

It may be a vast understatement to say that Tennessee Volunteers games are treasured by their fans. Throughout the years the team has instated a number of traditions adored by its many, many die-hard fans. Here are a few of the top-rated traditions.

Smokey the Mascot

Smokey, the Vols mascot, is easily the most cherished of the Vols tradition. There are a couple of mascots that grace every single Volunteers football team. There is the usual costumed mascot who is good at getting the fans and students excited. However, the real mascot is more like a treasured institution – a real coon hound named Smokey who has appeared in various bodily forms since the ‘50s.

In 1953 the University of Tennessee Prep Club held a contest to select the first coon hound mascot of the college’s football team. During the halftime show at a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs game each coon dog was presented to the student body so that their cheers could select a winner. In the end, Smokey, the prize-winning blue tick coon hound of the late reverend W.C. Brooks, was selected. He quickly became the crowd favorite because he kept on howling at the crowd as soon the minute he took the stage.

Ever since then, the tradition has been that one of the original Smokey’s descendants has been an official mascot of the UT Volunteers football team. The present Smokey (officially Smokey IX) is the ninth in this particular line of Tennessee Volunteers mascots.

These are the years that each Smokey has reigned as mascot:

  • Smokey 1953-1954
  • Smokey II 1955-1964
  • Smokey III 1965-1977
  • Smokey IV 1978-1979
  • Smokey V 1980-1983
  • Smokey VI 1984-1991
  • Smokey VII 1992-1994
  • Smokey VIII 1995-2003
  • Smokey IX 2004-Present

The Pregame Showcase

The Tennessee Volunteers Pre-Game Showcase is a feature begun by the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1989. This completely free event is customarily held in the University Center Ballroom two hours prior to the commencement of the game. These fun-filled lecture presentations are complete with refreshments and door prizes. They are specifically designed to allow time for getting to the Volunteers stadium and getting your seats in plenty of time for the game.

The Vol Walk

Since 1988 it has been a tradition for the Tennessee Volunteer players to take a walk along a prescribed route just before a game. Thousands of fans always show up to personally root on their favorite college team.

Tennessee Volunteers Camo Decal

The Tennessee “T”

Another Tennessee Volunteers tradition is the “T” that graces the side of the Volunteer helmets. The Tennessee “T” has gone through several faces through the years. A block-letter “T” was first added by Coach Doug Dickey in 1964. In 1968 that “T” became rounded. In 1977 the line around the “T” was thickened. In the 1960s, Coach Dickey instituted the tradition of the Volunteer team running into the stadium through a giant-sized version of the “T.”

Checkerboard Tennessee Vols End Zones

Neyland Stadium is unique among college football stadiums for its orange and white checkered end zones. In 1964. Coach Dickey instituted this tradition as well. They checkerboard end zone was wooden until it was replaced with artificial grass in 1989.

Are you a die-hard Tennessee Volunteers fan who appreciates all of the school’s time-honored traditions? Then think about starting your own Tennessee tradition by getting Tennessee Volunteers camouflage decals for you and all your tailgating buddies!

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