Smokey

A Tennessee Bluetick Coonhound dog, Smokey, is the mascot of UT teams. The UT Pep Club, headed by Stuart Worden, identified a major lack of school spirit in 1953 and attributed part of the difficulty in increasing school spirit to the fact that Tennessee’s symbol was the Volunteer—represented by a torch—while most schools had a mascot for a rallying point. The Pep Club initiated a contest to suggest an appropriate mascot. All manner of animals—from bears to groundhogs—were suggested, but the two most common were the Tennessee Walking Horse and some kind of dog. There was considerable pressure to choose a walking horse, but none of the proponents offered solutions to the problems of maintaining and caring for such a mascot. The Pep Club unanimously settled upon the hound dog, and a statewide contest to pick the best bluetick “houn’ dawg” was announced for halftime of the opening football game. (Local media reported that the dogs would be judged at a pep rally in the Rose Hole the night before the game, but that was not the case.)

The final contestants, all native-bred Tennessee “houn’ dawgs,” competed for the honor at the halftime of the Mississippi State game. Various accounts put the finalists at 4, 19, and 9. The three criteria for the mascot issued by the Pep Club were that the mascot must be “a hound dog by the best sense; must be easy going by nature; and must be cunning and loyal, but a spirited fighter when aroused or angered.” Rev. William C. Brooks’s prizewinning bluetick hound, “Blue Smokey,” was the last contestant, and when his name was called, he barked. The students cheered, Smokey threw his head back and howled, and UT had its new mascot, although the selection was not made official until the next (Duke) game. UT lost its first opening game since 1948 but gained a mascot.

A real dog makes appearances at football games, and a costumed mascot figure appears at basketball games and other athletic events and gatherings. Brooks chose the spelling of the name, it is said, to differentiate the dog from the spelling in Great Smoky Mountains.

In 1959 alumnus Ike Green suggested replacing Smokey with a mascot of a Tennessee Walking Horse. The suggestion was passed from the administration to the Adawayhi Pep Club for a decision. Adawayhi kept Smokey, but in 1964 added a horse, Wingo, which appeared at football games with an orange saddle and bridle, and a Tennessee Walking Horse began making appearances in 1965.

Smokey I (PR Brooks Blue Smokey) had been purchased by Reverend Brooks in 1950 in Chattanooga after treeing his first raccoon, and was Brooks’s personal hunting dog. Brooks offered to provide the dog, house and feed it, get it to games, and take care of the lineage. Smokey I began his career at the 1953 home football game against Duke by entering the field on a white carpet rolled out by cheerleaders. Students Will Pritchard and Dianne Darning escorted Smokey to the center of the field, where Ruth Ann Barker, the reigning Miss Tennessee, placed a tailor-made orange and white jacket on Tennessee’s new mascot. The length of the ceremonies resulted in a 15-yard penalty against Tennessee at the beginning of the third quarter for not having the field cleared in the required time. He served for the 1953 and 1954 seasons under Coach Harvey Robinson.

The night of January 28, 1955, was cold, and Reverend Brooks put Smokey in his garage, where there was a stove that provided heat. Smokey found an open door, and ran out onto Old Rutledge Pike and was killed by a hit-and-run northbound car. He was buried at the Brooks’s home.

Smokey II (PR Brooks Blue Smokey II), the three-month-old son of Smokey I, and new Head Coach Bowden Wyatt, began their service at the 1955 opening (Mississippi State) game. UT lost 13-7, but Smokey II was a great hit. Smokey II would serve from 1955 through the Kentucky game in 1963, all under Wyatt, except for the partial 1963 season, when he served under Coach Jim McDonald.

Smokey II served an exciting term as mascot. He was dognapped from campus by Kentucky students in 1955, led by Delta Tau Delta Kentucky law student Beauchamp Brogan, a Tennessee graduate and former president of the Pep Club who would become UT’s general counsel in 1975. The dognappers sent a postcard assuring the Brooks that Smokey was fine and would be well cared for. Brogan reported later that Smokey II was housed at a horse farm near Lexington. In retaliation, UT students painted a large “UT” on Memorial Coliseum in Lexington. Kentucky’s live mascot, Kernel, had been dead for two years and was not replaced by a living mascot, but another group, led by Gene Burton, catnapped a stuffed mascot. Smokey II, outfitted in a blue and white blanket with a large “K,” appeared at a pep rally the night before the UT-UK game at Memorial Coliseum. An exchange of mascots that brought Smokey II to the Tennessee side of the field (and to Reverend Brooks and a special steak) was arranged for just prior to kickoff of the game.

The week after Smokey II had been returned, Vanderbilt students attempted to dognap him, but they dognapped the wrong hound from Brooks’s farm, stealing instead a hunting dog named Ol Rusty. Three Vanderbilt coeds returned him to the Brooks in the middle of the night.

Smokey II also survived a clash with the Baylor Bear during halftime at the 1957 Sugar Bowl, during which Smokey II got a bit too close and barked at the bear. The bear took a couple of swats at Smokey II, but the two were separated before any major damage to either could occur.

In 1958 Smokey II was denied admission to the Georgia Tech stadium because of a rabies scare. Unable to cheer on the team from inside the stadium, Smokey II bayed throughout the game just outside the stadium.

In November 1963 someone (no one knows who) gave Smokey II a chocolate pie after the UT-UK game at Stoll Field. He died in Lexington on November 24, having been too sick to make the trip home. Football Coach G. R. (Bob) Woodruff loaned a hound dog for the Vanderbilt game.

Smokey III (PR Brooks Blue Smokey III) was also a descendant of Smokey I. He served from 1964 to 1976 under Coach Doug Dickey (1964–69) and Coach Bill Battle. Smokey III’s reign was celebrated but relatively uneventful. He did have a conflict in 1968 at the October 19 game in Neyland Stadium against the University of Alabama. The UT cheerleaders were letting Smokey III get close to the Alabama players and bark. Sophomore quarterback Scott Hunter thought he was too close indeed and took a kick at Smokey III. His coach, Bear Bryant, reprimanded him, saying that Alabama had enough trouble without Hunter kicking UT’s dog. UT won, 10-9.

Smokey IV (PR Brooks Blue Smokey IV) likewise was a Smokey I descendant. He served from 1977 to 1979 under Johnny Majors. He was a timid soul, and was frightened by large noises from the crowd, although he was always anxious to run through the “T.” Smokey IV lived on campus, and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity became the keepers and handlers of Smokey for special events.

Smokey IV died in December 1979 of cancer just before he was to leave to go to the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl with his team, which would play Purdue.

Smokey V (PR Brooks Blue Smokey V) was the first Smokey not to be descended from Smokey I. Because of the death of a dog in the bloodline, there was no descendant of Smokey I to succeed Smokey IV. Reverend Brooks placed an advertisement in the local papers and a “Smokey-look-alike” was chosen to start the new line. Smokey V served from 1980 to 1983, under Coach Johnny Majors.

Beginning his service at the opening (Georgia) game in 1980 at the age of 12 months, Smokey V was extremely nervous and was reluctant to run through the “T.” After the first two games, however, he seemed to get used to the crowds and adulation.

Smokey V died in the summer of 1984 after being hit by a car.

Smokey VI (PR Brooks Blue Smokey VI) served from 1984 to 1991 under Coach Johnny Majors. During his tenure (1996) Reverend Brooks died, at the age of 75. His wife, Mildred, took over Smokey’s VI’s care, assisted by friends and neighbors.

In 1991, at the UT-UCLA game, the official temperature was 106 degrees, with temperatures on the field being even higher. Following the 30-16 UT victory, Smokey VI was taken to UT’s veterinary hospital with breathing trouble, where he received intravenous fluids and a water bath, and was treated for shock. When he missed the Mississippi State game the next week, fans called the Sports Information Office in large numbers to inquire about him. He was listed on the official injury report, USA TODAY reported on his progress, and he was placed on injured reserve until later in the season when he returned to his post.

In November 1991 Smokey VI was again admitted to UT’s veterinary hospital, this time with symptoms of cancer. An inoperable tumor for which radiation or chemotherapy could not be used was diagnosed. Smokey VI died in December 1991. Mildred Brooks’s brother, Earl Hudson, and neighbors assisted in identifying a new Smokey in the chain of command.

Smokey VII (PR Hudson’s Blue Smokey VII) served from 1992 to 1994 under Coach Johnny Majors and Coach Phillip Fulmer. Mildred Brooks had become ill, and Smokey VII spent some of his time at a farm in Sevier County, until her brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Martha Hudson, took over the responsibility for the care of UT’s Smokeys full time in 1994.

Smokey VII proved too temperamental to serve adequately as game-day spirit leader. After the second incident of nipping at the heels of Pride of the Southland Band tuba player Tommy Chase during the run through the “T,” in fall 1994, Smokey VII was retired. He was replaced for the remainder of the season by a dog named Woody, owned by former UT Athletics Director Bob Woodruff.

Smokey VIII (PR Hudson’s Blue Smokey VIII) served from 1995 to 2003 under Coach Phillip Fulmer, howling the team on to two SEC championships and the first ever Bowl Championship Series national championship.

Smokey VIII almost did not make the national championship Fiesta Bowl game. When he seemed out-of-sorts, he was taken to a veterinarian in Tempe, Arizona, where he was diagnosed with an obstruction in his colon—caused by his eating a hotel washcloth. He made the game and led the cheers and had the washcloth removed when he returned to Knoxville.

Smokey VIII was diagnosed with a nasal tumor in December 2003 and made his last trip with his team to the 2004 Peach Bowl, where he rode on the float in the pregame parade and was on the sidelines but did not run onto the field. He died in March 2006.

Smoky IX (PR Hudson’s Blue Smokey IX) took the field at the 2005 opening game against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, reluctant at first to run through the “T” and greet his 107,000 fans, but he soon became acclimated to his duties. He served from 2005 to 2013 under coaches Phillip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, and Derek Dooley.

Smokey IX defended his home stadium by nipping at, and, according to Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula, drawing blood in pregame warmups before the UT-Alabama game in 2006. According to his owner, Earl Hudson, Smokey just got a little piece of uniform—which was also red, of course.

During Smokey IX’s reign, the American Kennel Club made bluetick hounds, of which Smokey is one, the 162nd registered breed, on November 25, 2009. In February 2010 the Westminster Kennel Club announced that bluetick hounds would be added to the breeds of dogs to be shown in its competitions.

In the fall of 2011, the eight-year-old Smokey IX suffered a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right back leg and received state-of-the-art therapy—much like what student athletes undergo from similar injuries—to make it through the 2011 season without surgery. He underwent scheduled arthroscopy and tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery to repair a partial anterior (cranial) cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in his right knee in January 2012 at the UT Veterinary Medical Center and had a similar surgery on his left hind leg some weeks later. He retired at the end of the 2013 season.

Smokey X and Head Football Coach Butch Jones made their first appearances together at the 2013 Dish Orange and White Game.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Smokey
  • Author
  • Keywords Smokey
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date December 8, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 16, 2018