KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's top dog will soon be spotted all over the UT campus!
Ten statues of Smokey, the university's beloved blue tick coonhound mascot, will debut this weekend. The official unveiling will be before Saturday's Orange and White game, at 2:30 at the new statue near the Pedestrian Bridge by the Student Union Plaza.
Other Smokey statues will be located at the UT Gardens, the Tennessee Recreation Center for Students (TRECS), the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Way, Circle Park, Hodges Library, the courtyard between Strong Hall and Clement Hall, the Student Union Pedestrian Bridge, Gate 21 of Neyland Stadium, the Hill, and the Engineering Quad. You can see them on a map here.
The Student Government Association came up with the idea for the Smokey statues as a way to honor the mascot.
“We’re proud of our campus traditions, and this seemed like a unique and exciting way to celebrate one of our longest-running traditions,” said Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jeff Maples.
The idea eventually expanded to have multiple statues, one to honor each of the ten dogs who have served as Smokey over the decades.
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The first Smokey was selected in 1953 during halftime of the Mississippi State football game. A number of locals brought their hound dogs in to vie for the title of UT's mascot, and the winner was obvious when Brooks’ Blue Smokey, owned by Rev. W. C. Brooks, threw his head back and howled. The crowd cheered, and he howled some more.
Brooks and his wife Mildred took care of seven generations of Smokey before they passed away. In 1994, the honor was passed on to Mildred's brother, Dr. Earl C. Hudson, a VFL in every sense of the word who took care of Smokey VII through X, and his family, who continue to care for Smokey today.
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The current Smokey, Smokey X, is the first bluetick to be born and bred in Tennessee. He has been on the job since 2013 and loves to meet and greet his adoring public. He'll be there on Saturday for the statue unveiling before heading to the game.
The fiberglass statues, slightly larger than life size, were designed by Chicago Fiberglass Works, a company that has designed projects for many universities.