Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Tennessee Football History

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer IOctober 27, 2011

Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Tennessee Football History

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    One of the most endearing qualities of college football is the many revered traditions featured at all the various programs. 

    Whether it's the Gator Chomp at Florida or watching the eagle soar at Auburn, the traditions of SEC programs are held in high regard. 

    Among SEC schools, Tennessee is at or near the top in the category of tradition-rich programs. 

    Here, we've ranked the top 10 UT traditions. 

10. The Vol Navy

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    In the shadow of the massive house that Neyland built, flows the Tennessee River. It is one of the greatest settings in all of college football.

    One of the greatest sights in all of college football is the 200-plus boats lined up along the river just outside Neyland Stadium. Boaters from across the state dock just outside the stadium and tailgate on the water for hours before and after Tennessee home games. 

    The tradition began in 1962 when Tennessee broadcaster George Mooney chose to take his boat to the stadium rather than deal with the road traffic around Neyland Stadium. 

9. Salute to the Hill

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    Before every home game, Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Marching Band marches to the stadium, playing "Rocky Top" almost the entire way. One of the greatest features of the march is the ability to hear each section playing its unique part as it passes by. 

    The best part of the march is the band's "Salute to the Hill." As the band nears the stadium, it stops at "The Hill," the oldest section of the campus which the university "grew around," right next to Neyland Stadium, to pay homage to the history and tradition of the university. 

8. The Rock

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    The Rock has become one of the greatest traditions at UT. Serving as a spot for the more artistic UT students to display their abilities and opinions, the Rock has featured some inspiring messages over the years. 

    Some of the not-so-inspiring messages included an advertisement for an anti-Phil Fulmer site and the official farewell from UT students/fans to Lane Kiffin.

7. I Will Give My All for Tennessee Today

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    As the team leaves the locker room to head into the tunnel that leads onto the field, the players tap a wooden sign that hangs above the door. That sign states, "I will give my all for Tennessee today!" 

    Replicas of the sign don car doors and thresholds across the state.

6. The Power T

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    In 1964, first-year head coach Doug Dickey added a "T" to the Tennessee helmet. Although the design of the T has changed a couple of times, it remains as one of the most recognizable logos in college athletics. 

5. Checkerboard End Zones

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    Coach Dickey made another lasting addition to Tennessee's beloved game-day traditions when he had the end zones painted with an orange-and-white checkerboard design in 1964. 

    The checkerboards went away in 1968 with the addition of artificial turf to Shields-Watkins Field. The checkerboards returned for good in 1989.

4. Smokey

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    Blue Smokey, as the first Smokey was known, was chosen by fans and students in a contest that took place during halftime of a game in 1953.

    When Smokey's turn came around, he howled into the microphone. The fans went crazy and the Vols had a mascot. 

3. Vol Walk

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    Beginning around two hours before game time, the Vol Walk is one of the latest, yet most well-loved, additions to Tennessee game days. 

    This tradition began in 1990 when the Vols began walking down what was then known as Yale Ave., amidst a chorus of fans, toward Neyland Stadium. The street has since been renamed to Peyton Manning Pass. 

    In 2010, Derek Dooley modified the route so the team could pay homage to the Torchbearer statue, a tradition and symbol of the Tennessee Volunteer spirit. 

2. Running Through the T

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    Doug Dickey made quite a few changes when he took over as the head coach of the Vols in 1964. The biggest tradition Dickey instituted was players running through a giant "T" formed by the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. 

    It is one of the loudest moments inside of Neyland Stadium every Saturday and is a cherished experience by everyone who has ever ran through it. 

    On Senior Day, Vols seniors are announced and run through the T one by one for the final time. 

1. "Rocky Top"

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    "Rocky Top" was performed by the Pride of the Southland Band at halftime of a game in 1972. When the crowd went absolutely bonkers over the song, it stuck as the unofficial fight song of the Volunteers.

    The song is played a minimum of 40 to 50 times per game sending the UT partisans into an hysteria only experienced by Tennessee fans.

    Opposing fans absolutely despise it. Opposing coaches pump it through loudspeakers in practices to make sure their players try their best keep it from being performed during the game. 

    Rocky Top is the symbol of all things Tennessee football. 


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