Tennessee Vols Nickname, Smokey Mascot & Gameday Traditions

Discover the UT Volunteers nickname, mascot stories and traditions that make Football Saturdays a ‘Rocky Top’ experience at Neyland Stadium and beyond

Find a tremendous selection of UT Vols Gear
Tennessee Vols Navy
Tennessee Vols tailgating is an "All Aboard" experience

You Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Hound Dog!
Since 1953 the Smokey tradition at Tennessee has given fans plenty howl about. The Bluetick hound first filled the University’s mascot role and was followed by the costumed Smokey mascot.


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.

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.”

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.

All Aboard! One of the most unusual sights in collegiate tailgating is found outside Neyland Stadium as more than 200 orange and white decorated boats anchor along the Tennessee River within the shadows of the football stadium.

All Aboard!
One of the most unusual sights in collegiate tailgating is found outside Neyland Stadium as more than 200 orange and white decorated boats anchor along the Tennessee River within the shadows of the football stadium.  Find out more about Tennessee Vols Tailgating


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.”


I Can't Hear Yoooou! The tradition of Vols fans singing

I Can’t Hear Yoooou!
The tradition of Vols fans singing “Rocky Top” at opportune moments such as a first down, touchdown, turnover, etc.,
keeps the decible level high in Neyland Stadium.


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