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