Happy 65th birthday, Smokey!!
Knoxville — Sixty-five years on the sidelines of Tennessee football, hundreds of wins and two national titles. Ten generations of Houn' Dogs can see a lot in their collective lifetime.
The current Smokey, Smokey X, was actually born on October 4, so we guess the celebration will continue into next week!
It was Sept. 26, 1953, when the Big Orange welcomed the first of ten (so far) bluetick coonhounds as its new mascot.
The history behind Smokey is just as treasured as he is.
He was picked in 1953 during a contest to select a live mascot for the school. Announcements for the contest read, "This can't be an ordinary hound. He must be a 'Houn' Dog' in the best sense of the word."
At halftime of the Mississippi State game, the contenders were brought onto the field. The last dog announced was Rev. Bill Brooks' Blue Smokey, who barked when his name was called. The students burst into applause, which only made Smokey howl louder. Tennessee had its mascot.
Brooks and his wife Mildred took care of seven generations of Smokey before they passed away. In 1994, the honor was passed on to Dr. Earl C. Hudson, a VFL in every sense of the word who took care of Smokey VII through X. Sadly, Dr. Hudson recently passed away in June.
Smokey X's care was given to Earl's son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Cindy Hudson. The two have taken great care of him ever since he was a pup, and were the ones credited with discovering the tenth generation of the mascot when Smokey IX's bloodline ran out.
Smokey X's bloodline is quite unique and fitting of a VFL! The previous bloodline had descended from blueticks from South Carolina. Smokey X, however, is the first to be pure Tennessee born and bred when he was picked in 2013.
When Smokey X was two months old, he was 26 pounds. He was so much bigger than the rest of the puppies, the breeder, Wendy Davis of Davis Branch Blueticks, knew she'd found the right dog!
On game days and for his official mascot duties, Smokey is handled by members of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. For home games, he usually spends the weekend in the fraternity house on UT's campus.
Read more from WBIR's website.