Smokey celebrates 64 years as University of Tennessee mascot

University of Tennessee mascot Smokey X, a Bluetick Coonhound, watches football action against Kentucky from the sidelines in their NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Smokey celebrated 64 years as the University of Tennessee mascot Tuesday.

Earl Hudson, owner of Smokey, poses at his home in this Sept. 22, 2003, photo in Knoxville, Tenn. Smokey VIII, the bluetick coonhound mascot with the most victories in Tennessee football history, died Friday, March 17, 2006, of complications from high blood pressure and kidney disease, the university said. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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 ‘Hound’ 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. Brooks was Hudson’s brother-in-law. After Brooks’ death, his wife Mildred continued to provide the school with a live mascot until her brother took over in 1994.

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.

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