(WBIR) In exactly 100 days, "It's Football Time in Tennessee" will ring out across Rocky Top.
Soon, a tide of orange and white will surge Neyland Stadium, as the Volunteers battle Utah State with coach Butch Jones leading the helm. Tennessee won't be playing on Aug. 27 - the FBS' first game happens to be Abilene Christian at Georgia State - but we're still counting down the official kickoff to football season.
Four days after the official start to football season, Tennessee will play Utah State in Knoxville Sunday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. In the 2014 football season, Tennessee will play seven games at home and five on the road.
In honor of the big countdown, here is the history behind some of the Tennessee's traditions and symbols (Courtesy utk.edu)
Origins of the "Volunteer" moniker
Tennessee became known as the "Volunteer state" in the 19th century because of its residents' willingness to serve in the military, according to UT's website. You can find references to the Tennessee Volunteers dating back to the War of 1812. Also, when the secretary of the state asked for 2,800 Tennesseans to volunteer in the Mexican War, he got 30,000 respondents. But it was the Atlanta Constitution that first called UT athletes "Volunteers," after a Tennessee-Georgia Tech football game in 1902.
Cool Neyland Stadium facts
Neyland Stadium seats 102,455 people, making it the third-largest, non-racing stadium in the country, according to UT's website. But the home of the Volunteers wasn't always so impressive. In 1921, UT simply had a field with Western stands because the university ran out of money. Students and faculty volunteered to finish the project.
The playing surface, Watkins-Shields Field, is named after the original donors, Andrew Poyar, Colonel W.S. Shields, and Alice Watkins-Shields. The stadium is named after UT's most-winning coach, General Robert Neyland. He coached from 1926 to 1952 and spearheaded the stadium's first major expansion.
Why are UT's colors orange and white?
UT's bright orange color dates back to the 19th century. In 1889, UT athletics association president Charles Moore found a small cluster of orange and white daisies on the Hill and decided to make those the university's colors. Now it's hard to go a mile in East Tennessee and not see orange and white.
How did Smokey become UT's mascot?
In 1953, Smokey became UT's mascot after it entered the UT Pep Club's sponsored contest for a live mascot and won.
Today, Smokey X is famous for leading the Vols through the "T" before every home game. The costumed version of famous bluetick hound emerged in the 1970s, and was redesigned in 1982 to look more like the dog today.
History of the "Pride of the Southland Marching Band"
"Pride of the Southland Marching Band" is one of the nation's oldest collegiate bands. The band began with 13 members right after the Civil War. Since then, the band has grown to more than 300 musicians.
Of course, the most popular song the band plays is "Rocky Top," a battle cry it's made famous over the years. One of the band's most important tasks is to assemble a "T" on the field, welcoming the football team to the field.
Here's another fun fact: "Pride of the Southland Marching Band" is the only college band to march in twelve consecutive presidential inaugural parades.
What's the Hill?
In 1794, Blount College, which would eventually become UT, was established in downtown Knoxville. Soon the college moved to the Hill in 1828. Over the years, the campus has expanded significantly, but many of the older buildings still remain.
Contributing: The University of Tennessee's website (utk.edu)