(WBIR-KNOXVILLE) The same day fans slid into their seats for the first time at Neyland Stadium, nearly three tons of paint slid off one of UT's most recognized landmarks.
Layers of past messages painted on the Rock revealed themselves. As anyone who goes to the UT Knoxville campus knows, the Rock is regularly painted over with new messages, often multiple times a day.
It's carried good news and bad through the decades.
"I like to see it on game days with all the football recruits and everything and Butch Jones portraits," explained UT senior, Ryan Weiss.
It's been through harsh winters and has even survived relocation.
"In the course of that, the paint was getting in the way so we cut off the skirt of paint around the bottom. Other than that we didn't lose any," said Bob Caudill, UT Facilities and Services.
But after decades of serving as a canvas for students, the Rock got an unexpected facelift.
UT Facilities said the paint was several inches thick and heavy machinery was needed to remove it.
"It was too much to make it budge. It turned out to be somewhere between 2-3 tons of paint," Caudill said.
"Not any rock, just all paint. It was cool to see all of the history there," added UT freshman Jonathan Mays.
The tradition dates back to the 1960s and when all of this paint slid off the rock, it took years and years of history with it. There are still several layers on the rock, but overall it's a blank slate.
"It's a God-given way to say we are starting over," Mays said. "We are about to do something big. We switched from adidas to Nike and everyone is excited about that and now we literally have a new slate to start off on for The Rock."
Mays said he and his friend painted their names on the Rock for the first time just hours before it fell.
"It's kind of unique that as soon as we get here, history starts being made," Mays said.
While the decades-old tradition will start from square one, years of memories won't be forgotten.
"I suspect it won't be long until there is another message on it from the students," Caudill laughed.
UT has not yet decided on what they will do with all of the paint that has fallen off the Rock.
Many have mentioned they would like to see it saved, since it is a piece of UT's history.
10News is creating a gallery of your favorite photos of The Rock at the University of Tennessee. Use #UTblankslate to upload photos using YourTake, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Your photo of The Rock could be seen on 10News.