Home of the Tennessee Volunteers
Experience the Park Neyland Stadium Fan Guide
History/Traditions: Smokey and the Vols
Blount College was founded in 1794 as a land grant institution and was renamed the University of Tennessee in 1879. In 1891, Tennessee fielded a football team for the first time and adopted orange and white as its colors. Charles Moore, a member of that first team, chose the colors because of the American daisy that grew on “the Hill” where classes are still held today. However, the Vols didn’t wear orange jerseys until 1922.
The Vols got their nickname from the state nickname, the Volunteer State. There’s some history there, too. In the War of 1812, Gen. Andrew Jackson from Tennessee gathered volunteers to fight the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Later, 2,800 men were asked to sign up from Tennessee to battle Santa Ana in the Mexican War. Tennessee responded by sending 30,000 volunteers, including the most famous one, Davy Crockett.
Smokey, the Vols blue-tick hound mascot, was not a fixture on the sideline until 1953. The Pep Club held a mascot selection during halftime of the Mississippi State game that year in Shields-Watkins Field. When the last dog to be announced, the Rev. Bill Brooks’ hound named Smokey, barked and howled to the crowd as they roared in approval, the deal was sealed. Since then the Brooks family has been caretakers for the UT mascot. Smokey IX is the current mascot, beginning service in 2004. Smokey VIII was the winningest blue-tick hound with a record of 91-22 and a national championship.
Tennessee boasts six national titles, including two unanimous titles in 1951 and the first BCS title in 1998. The 1951 team was also the first team to be on national television. The 1939 team was the last major college team to go through a season unscored upon, and was led by the famous Gen. Robert R. Neyland. He had three tours of duty with the Vols as head coach between 1926 and 1952. In his 21 years, Neyland was 173-31-12. He also served as athletic director, and the stadium where the Vols play was named for him in 1962.