Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers Football History

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The University of Tennessee, as the state's land grant university, draws the nickname of its athletic teams (Volunteers) from the name most associated with the state.

Tennessee acquired its name "The Volunteer State" in the early days of the nineteenth century in the War of 1812. At the request of Tennessee football historyPresident James Madison, Gen. Andrew Jackson, later President, mustered 1500 from his home state to fight the Indians and later the British at the Battle of New Orleans. The men never actually fought in battle and Jackson was so frustrated by the inactivity that he marched the men home at his own expense and his determined stance on their behalf earned him the nickname "Old Hickory."

The name became even more prominent in the Mexican War when Gov. Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2800 men to battle Santa Ana and some 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered.



The dragoon uniform (right) worn by Tennessee regulars during that conflict is still seen adorning the color guard at UT athletic events.

The term "Volunteer State," as noted through these two events, recognizes the long-standing tendency of Tennesseans to go above and beyond the call of duty when their country calls. The name "Volunteers" is frequently shortened to "Vols" in describing Tennessee's athletic teams.

The Hill

Since the 1800s, The Hill has been symbolic of the higher education in Tennessee. The University, founded in 1794 as Blount College in a lone, two-story house, had its beginnings on The Hill and quickly grew around it.

The main part of UT's old campus stands on this rising bank above the north shore of the Tennessee River. Neyland Stadium sprawls at the base of The Hill, between it and the River.

Years of constant expansion and development have pushed the campus west of The Hill. Ayres Hall, built in 1919, holds a commanding view over the campus and houses the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, and still provides the most dynamic and recognizable scenes on campus. Next to that building is the oldest building on campus, South Stadium Hall, built in 1872. Today The Hill is the center of activity for the majors of natural sciences, mathematics, computer sciences and engineering.

School Colors

The colors Orange and White were selected by Charles Moore, a member of the first football team in 1891, and were later approved by a vote of the student body. The colors were those of the common American daisy which grew in profusion on The Hill. Tennessee football players did not appear in the now-famous Orange jerseys until the season-opening game in 1922. Coach M.B. Banks' Vols won that game over Emory and Henry by a score of 50-0.

Volunteer Navy

In 1962 former Vol broadcaster George Mooney found a quicker and more exciting way to get to Neyland Stadium other than fighting the notorious Knoxville traffic. Mooney navigated his little runabout down the Tennessee River to the stadium and spawned what would later become the "Volunteer Navy." Today, approximately 200 boats of all shapes and sizes make up this giant floating tailgate party. Tennessee and the University of Washington are the only institutions with stadia adjacent to bodies of water.


After a student poll sponsored by the Pep Club revealed a desire to select a live mascot for the University, the Pep Club held a contest in 1953 to select a coon hound, a native breed of the state, as the mascot to represent the school. Announcements of the contest in local newspapers read, "This can't be an ordinary hound. He must be a Houn' Dog' in the best sense of the word."

The late Rev. Bill Brooks entered his prize-winning blue tick coon hound, "Brooks' Blue Smokey," in the contest. At halftime of the Mississippi State game that season, the dogs were lined up on the old cheerleaders' ramp at Shields-Watkins Field. Each dog was introduced over the loudspeaker and the student body cheered for their favorite, with "Blue Smokey" being the last hound introduced. When his name was called, he barked. The students cheered and Smokey threw his head back and barked again. This kept going until the stadium was in an uproar and UT had found its mascot.

Rev. Brooks supplied UT with the line of canines until his death in 1986 when his wife, Mildred, took over the caretaking role. She did so until 1994, when her brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Martha Hudson of Knoxville, took over responsibility for Smokey VII and eventually Smokey VIII, with Smokey IX now in the wings. Mrs. Brooks died in July 1997.

The dogs have led exciting lives. Smokey II was dognapped by Kentucky students in 1955 and later survived a confrontation with the Baylor Bear at the 1957 Sugar Bowl. Smokey VI, who suffered heat exhaustion in the 140 degree temperatures at the 1991 UCLA game, was listed on the Vol injury report until he returned later in the season. Smokey III compiled a 105-39-5 record and two SEC championships. Smokey VI, who passed away in 1991, was on the sidelines for three SEC championships. One of the most beloved figures in the state, Smokey is famous for leading the Vols out of the giant "T" prior to each home game.

Smokey's Reigns
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-Present

The present Smokey, now entering his sixth season in 2000-2001, is eighth in the line of blue tick coon hounds and is appropriately called Smokey VIII. He is also the winningest Smokey having recorded a 54-8 (.871) record, two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship.

University of Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Band

The University of Tennessee band was organized immediately after the Civil War when the University reopened. Since then, the enrollment in the band program has grown to more than 300 students (in all bands) from all colleges of the University.

Director of Bands, Dr. Gary Sousa, heads up a program which has maintained a long-standing reputation as one of the nation's finest musical organizations. The band staff includes Dr. Don Ryder, Associate Director of Bands and Drill Designer, along with Ed Powell, Assistant Director. Drum Major for 2000-2001 is Joe Christian, assisted by Brooke Rhea, and Head Majorette is Carrie DeLozier.

The band program is divided into several different units. The most famous of these units is the marching band. The full "Pride of the Southland Band," appears at all home football games and most out-of-town games before more than 850,000 spectators plus millions more on television.

The "Pride of the Southland" has represented the state of Tennessee at the Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton Presidential Inaugurations and has appeared at the SEC Championship game, Rose Bowl, Astro Bluebonnet Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Gator Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. When the Marching Band takes the field, the crowd reaction truly indicates that it is not only the Pride of all Tennesseans, but the "Pride of the Southland."

Songs of Tennessee

Alma Mater History of the Alma Mater
On a Hallowed hill in Tennessee
Like Beacon shining bright
The stately walls of old U.T.
Rise glorious to the sight.

So here's to you old Tennessee,
Our Alma Mater true
We pledge in love and harmony
Our loyalty to you.

What torches kindled at that flame
Have passed from hand to hand
What hearts cemented in that name
Bind land to stranger land.

O, ever as we strive to rise
On life's unresting stream
Dear Alma Mater, may our eyes
Be lifted to that gleam.
The alma mater was selected as a result of a 1928 contest sponsored by Prof. L.S. Mayer of the UT men's glee club. All students, faculty members and alumni or members of their families throughout the state were eligible to compete for the $50 prize. The song, both music and words, had to be original and of high standard. The winner was Mrs. John Meek of Chattanooga, formerly Mary Fleming of Knoxville. The decision was announced at the Alumni banquet at the Farragut Hotel October 26, 1928.

Down the Field

(Here's to Old Tennessee)
Official Tennessee Fight Song Fight, Vols, Fight!!

Here's to old Tennessee
Never we'll sever
We pledge our loyalty
Forever and ever
Backing our football team
Faltering never
Cheer and fight with all of your might
For Tennessee.

Fight, Vols, Fight!!

Fight, Vols fight with all your might,
For the Orange and White
Never falter, never yield
As we march on down the field
Keep Marching!
Let the Spirit of the Hill
Every Vol with courage fill
Your loyalty means our victory
So fight, Vols, fight!

Rocky Top

Wish that I was on ol'Rocky Top, down in the Tennessee hills;
Ain't no fog or smoke on Rocky Top; Ain't no telephone bills.
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top, half bear, other half cat;
Wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop; I still dream about that.

Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to me.
Good ol'Rocky Top; Rocky Top Tennessee.

Once two strangers climbed ol'Rocky Top, lookin' for a moonshine still;
Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top; Reckon they never will.

Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to me.
Good ol'Rocky Top; Rocky Top Tennessee.

I've had years of cramped-up city life, trapped like a duck in a pen;
All I know is it's a pity life can't be simple again.
Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top; dirt's too rocky by far;
That's why all the folks on Rocky Top get their corn from a jar. 

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