Running Thru the "T"

The famed letter "T" debuted on Tennessee's helmets in the fall of 1964 as Doug Dickey assumed the head coaching reins.

Dickey also brought another Tennessee tradition to life when he started the Vols running through the "T."  From the time of coach Bob Neyland through the 1963 season, the Vols had their team bench on the east side of the field, close to their dressing room which entered the field on the 50 yardline.  In 1965, Doug Dickey changed all that as the Vols opened the season against Army.  He moved his team's bench to the west side, allowing the Vols to enter the field just before the opening kickoff through a giant "T" formed by the "Pride of the Southland" Marching Band.When the Vols moved to the new dressing room quarters under the north stands in 1983, the "T" remained, forming from north to south instead of east to west.The "T" has occasionally been formed on the road, most notably at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville and at the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowls in New Orleans.

The "T" on the Helmet

The famed letter "T" debuted on Tennessee helmets in the fall of 1964 when Doug Dickey took over as head coach. Prior to 1964 the helmets had been white with an orange stripe down the middle. However, there have been 2 exceptions. In coach Bowden Wyatt's final season in 1962, the Vols had orange numerals on the sides of the helmets. In 1963 coach Jim McDonald changed the color of the numbers to black. When Johnny Majors was named head coach in 1977, he had the "T" slightly rounded off and the stripe widened.



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 President 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 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 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.

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, Washington and Pittsburgh are the only institutions with stadia adjacent to bodies of water.

Checkerboard End Zones

A Tennessee trademark from the mid-1960's was reinstated in 1989 with the installation of the orange and white checkerboard end zones on Shields-Watkins Field and continued with the return of grass.The unique design accompanied coach Doug Dickey's arrival in 1964 when the Vols played Boston College.  The colorful and popular end zones were a part of Tennessee football until 1968 when the natural sod was dug out and artificial turf was put in its place.

The design was added to the playing floor at Thompson-Boling Arena in 2002.


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 coonhound, 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 carrying on the banner of the Smokey lineage. Mrs. Brooks died in July 1997.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. 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 Vols 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. Smokey VIII is the winningest Smokey, having compiled a record of 91-22 (.805), with two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship. The newest Smokey, Smokey IX, began his post at the 2004 Peach Bowl.

Smokey's Reigns 
Smokey II 
Smokey III 
Smokey IV 
Smokey V 
Smokey VI 
Smokey VII 
Smokey VIII 
Smokey IX 

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 four hundred 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 Dr. Ed Powell, Assistant Director.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 for the last 40 years at ten consecutive Presidential Inaugurations, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. The band has also made more than 40 bowl appearances, including the Sugar Bowl, Astro Bluebonnet Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Gator Bowl, Hall of Fame Bowl, Garden State Bowl, Sun Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl.When the UT 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.”

Hear the band playing Rocky Top!

"Rocky Top"

Nothing gives a Vol fan more pride than hearing "Rocky Top" being played after a Tennessee touchdown or big play. Although its not officially the Tennessee fight song, it is the most well known by fans and foes alike. A bluegrass tune written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (certianly no relation to the famous 'Bama coach), the lyrics speak proudly of an east Tennessee mountian home:

Wish that I was on ol' Rocky Top, down in the Tennessee hills
Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top, ain't no telephone bills
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top, half-bear the 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
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
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


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.


Other Notable Tennessee Songs

Tennessee 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.

Listen to the Tennessee Alma Mater. 

Performed by the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band 

Down the Field

(Here's to Old Tennessee)
Official Tennessee Fight Song 

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.

Listen to Down the Field. 

Performed by the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band 

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!

Listen to Fight, Vols, Fight!! 

Performed by the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band 

The Hill

Since the 1800s, "The Hill" has been symbolic of the higher education in the state of Tennessee. The University, founded in 1794 as Blount College moved to "The Hill" in 1828 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 (left), built in 1919, holds a commanding view over the campus and houses the College 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 College Hall, built in 1872. Today "The Hill" is the center of activity for the majors of natural sciences, mathematics, computer sciences and engineering.