KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Football time in Tennessee is defined by many traditions, but one of the most exciting is how the Vols take the field in Neyland Stadium.
As 100,000 fans reach a fever pitch, the Pride of the Southland Band finishes its pregame routine by forming a giant "T" on the field. As the T opens, a howling Smokey lunges onto the field, followed by the players, coaches, and cheerleaders.
Many consider it one of the greatest entrances in all of sports and it all started on Sept. 18, 1965.
Two Tennessee legends, Head football coach Doug Dickey and band director Dr. W. J. Julian came up with the idea for the unique experience, combining two great traditions for one marvelous moment.
Want more on Tennessee traditions? Check out the Big Orange Locker
Originally, the T formation opened from the middle of the sideline, but it moved to the north endzone in 1980 when Neyland Stadium's lower bowl was completed the locker room was moved.
Fans lucky enough to be seated in the endzone can see and hear the Vols before they make their entrance onto the field.
In another cherished Tennessee tradition, senior players are introduced and run through the T individually during their last home game.