Tennessee's favorite blue tick coonhound is celebrating his 60th anniversary on Thursday.
According to UTSports.com, Smokey was chosen as the school's mascot on September 26, 1953. The pep club held a contest during halftime of the Mississippi State game to pick the winning dog. There were several dogs and their owners in attendance, in response to a newspaper article saying that UT was looking for a "Houn-Dog in the best sense of the word."
Among the contestants was Rev. Bill Brooks and his prize-winning dog, Brooks' Blue Smokey." As each dog was introduced, the fans cheered for their favorite. Smokey was the last hound up, and, according to legend, he howled when his name was called. The louder the crowd cheered, the louder he barked, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Brooks family and extended family has supplied the University with a Smokey ever since. Currently, Smokey X is in his first season as the Vols' mascot.
You can read more fun facts about Smokey, including some of the dog's more interesting exploits, at UTSports. com.