KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia go head-to-head in Athens, Georgia this weekend.
Even with the competition, the two schools have something in common: they both appreciate having a dog as a live mascot. Smokey and Uga are both beloved by the two SEC schools.
The coonhound became the Vols live mascot in 1953. The school’s Pep Club hosted a contest and placed announcements in newspapers saying, “This can’t be an ordinary hound. He must be a ‘Houn’ Dog’ in the best sense of the word.”
According to UT, the first Smokey was chosen during halftime of a football game against Mississippi State. The winner was “Brooks’ Blue Smokey,” a blue tick coonhound owned by Rev. Bill Brooks. After the reverend’s death, his wife Mildred continued to provide the school with a live mascot until 1994. Then, her brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Martha Hudson, continued the tradition.
During 1955, Smokey II was taken by Kentucky students. However, Smokey is not a mascot to mess with. In 1957, Smokey II survived a confrontation with the Baylor Bear in 1957.
The current mascot for the Vols is Smokey X, who made his debut in 2013.
Georgia’s live mascot received his name from the school’s abbreviation, UGA. The school began the tradition of having a white English bulldog as a mascot in 1956. The family of Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler has provided the school a mascot since Uga I. Seiler’s former classmate chose the name for the mascot.
After the passing of each mascot, the university buries their loved one in the football stadium.
Georgia keeps their current mascot, Uga X, cool during the games by providing him an air conditioned doghouse on the sidelines. Bulldogs are known to suffer many health problems.