Tennessee Vols Nickname and Mascot
Discover the UT nickname, mascot stories and also get T-shirts and apparel for the biggest Football Saturdays
The University of Tennessee has a tremendous fan base that bleeds UT Orange. Whether it's singing "Rocky Top" or tailgating with the Volunteer Navy, you'll find more orange than you can imagine in Newyland Stadium and beyond.
TENNESSEE NICKNAME: VOLUNTEERS
Ever since the early days of the 19th century when General Andrew Jackson formed large armies from his home state to fight the Indians and later the British down at the Battle of New Orleans, Tennessee has been know as the "Volunteer State."
The name was reinforced to an even larger scale when 30,000 Tennessee volunteers answered the call to fight against Santa Ana's troops in the Mexican War. The University of Tennessee drew the nickname for its athletic teams from this state nickname. However, the University's teams are often referred to as the "Vols."
TENNESSEE MASCOTS: TWO SMOKEYS AND DAVEY CROCKETT
Until 1953, UT's mascot was all "no bark and no bite." The reason was simply because the University didn't have a live mascot to help support it teams. That year a student poll suggested that they wanted a mascot and the UT Pep Club began the selection process. Any drama concerning the type of animal that would be featured quickly faded when it was announced that the chosen mascot would be a coon hound, a breed native to the state. However as the school paper noted, "This can't be an ordinary hound." He must be a 'Houn' Dawg' in the best sense of the word."
The late Rev. W.C. Brooks entered his blue tick hound, Smokey, into the hound dog competition that took place during half time of a 1953 home game. The hound put on such a crowd pleasing performance that the fans were quick to jump on top of old Smokey for their choice. The competing dogs were lined up on the old cheerleaders' ramp and then introduced one at a time over the loudspeakers. When it was Smokey's turn he received the loudest cheers after he barked when his name was called out. Upon hearing the crowd's response Smokey howled again. The sequence of howling and cheering gained momentum until the whole stadium was rocking. That day a star and the new UT mascot were born. When Smokey trotted away from his mascot role, Rev. Brooks continued to supply the school with a line of "Smokeys" until his death in 1986. His wife Mrs. Mildred Brooks and family friends now oversee the dog's daily care.
Throughout the years the line of Smokeys have had their dog day afternoons. Smokey II was dog napped by Kentucky students in 1955 and then survived an unpleasant altercation with the Baylor bear at the 1956 Sugar Bowl. The 140 degree on the field temperature caused Smokey VI to suffer heat exhaustion during the 1991 UCLA game. The mascot was listed on the Vol's injury report until he returned later in the season.
Smokey VIII continued the blue tick tradition when he became UT's top dog in 1995. Cloaked in Tennessee's colors, he is famous for leading the Big Orange out of the giant "T" before each home game. Elvis once echoed the song, "You ain't nothin but a hound dog," but Vol fans can proudly exclaim, "you ain't ever caught a rabbit, but you are a friend of mine." Donning much less fur, a costumed version of Smokey also patrols the UT sidelines. Whether he’ s leading cheers or teaming up with UT’s original mascot, Davey Crockett, this two-legged adds much bark to the Vol’s mascot bite.
A musket toting, frontier style dressed student named Davey Crockett holds the rank of UT”s most established mascot tradition. (Brian Lanius) The mascot name salutes the “volunteer” ethic that helped Tennessee develop its reputation of helping others. “We are the Volunteer State."
TENNESSEE VOLUNTEER FIGHT SONG: “ROCKY TOP”
One of the best know fight or rally songs is the one that echoes throughout the tremendous double decked bowl known as Neyland Stadium. Whenever the Volunteers score or another joyous occasion arises, the UT band cranks up "Rocky Top" and the following words are expressed.
"....Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to me: Good ol' Rocky Top: Rocky Top Tennessee: Rocky Top Tennessee."
Needless to say, when more than 100,000 fans sing along, the song is delivered in a thunderous manner.