Top College Football Traditions: Smokey and the Tennessee Volunteers

tennessee_volunteers_smokeySmokey has Been Part of the Tennessee Football Tradition for 60 years
The Tennessee Volunteers mascot, Smokey, is a Bluetick Coonhound.   Smokey has been a staple in Rocky Top since “Blue Smokey” in 1953. Wikipedia tells that The University of Tennessee chose their mascot based on a student poll conducted that year.  The results of the vote indicated the student body wanted a coon hound that was a Tennessee native.

A Contest was Held
During halftime of Tennessee’s home game against Mississippi State during the ’53 season, a number of hounds were introduced to the Tennessee Pep Club for voting. The last dog to audition, known as “Blue Smokey” howled loudly as he was introduced.  The Vols faithful found the outburst endearing, therefore Blue Smokey was selected to be the official mascot of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Smokey IX Will Be On The Tennessee Sideline This Weekend
In the six decades that have followed, eight other Bluetick Coonhounds have carried on the Smokey name.  “Smokey IX” holds the current honors, having been introduced in 2004.  Other than Uga, Smokey is my favorite mascot in college football.  I love dogs and the Dawgs equally.

The video below offers a more personal view of Smokey the Tennessee mascot.

Georgia or LSU – Which Team Will ESPN College GameDay Pick?

Bulldog Nation is well aware of how this pick turned out…

So, Which Team Will Lee Corso pick? The Georgia Bulldogs, or the Tigers of LSU?
My ESPN College GameDay viewing prowess tells that Corso enjoys getting under the skin of the home team’s fans, especially when predicting a match-up that could go either way.  Last time I checked, Georgia was favored by three points.  Let’s face it, this game is a toss up.  Betting odds tend to favor the home team in this scenario.

That is why I believe Lee Corso will pull one of his favorite tricks to try and hoodwink Bulldog Nation.  He will put on the ‘Hairy Dawg” mascot head, only to throw it away in favor of the “Mike The Tiger” mascot head.

Prediction: Lee Corso picks the LSU Tigers.  Bulldog Nation boos at the top of their lungs in response as GameDay goes off the air.

Paying Tribute to Larry Munson – Part II

Larry Munson Calls the Dawgs
In 1966 Larry Munson was working in West Palm Beach, Florida, covering spring training for the Atlanta Braves.  According to Wikipedia, Munson was browsing the Atlanta Journal, (now known as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) when he noticed a blurb about Georgia Bulldog radio play-by-play man Ed Thilenius leaving The University of Georgia to take a broadcasting position with the Atlanta Falcons.

Larry Munson seized the opportunity and called the UGA athletic director to express interest in being the new voice radio voice of Georgia football.  He was quickly hired.  Despite the location of his new job, Munson continued living in Tennessee to maintain his Rod & Gun Club television show.  Larry Munson resided in Nashville until 1978 when he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to work as a reporter for the Georgia Radio Network.

A Match Made In Bulldog Heaven
Larry Munson’s distinct voice set the tone for UGA football for over 40 years.  Former Georgia sideline reporter Loran Smith told the Gwinnett Daily Post that Munson was cut from a different mold than the sportswriters of today.  Larry Munson was a master at his craft while openly rooting for Georgia, which is one of the many reasons Munson will forever be revered by Bulldog Nation.

Larry Munson’s Favorite Calls of All-Time
Rather than opining about personal favorite Larry Munson moments, it is best to track down Munson’s fondest bellows according to the memoirs he left behind.  The historic memories that follow can be found in an ESPN Insider CFB Nation article written by David Ching on November 21, 2011.

Larry Munson’s ten favorite calls are chronicled in the article, which is written according to Munson’s autobiography, “From Herschel to Hobnail Boot: The Life and Times of Larry Munson. For the purposes of this blog, his top five calls are remembered.

5. Sugar Falling From the Sky/Hunker Down!
Larry Munson’s work on the Georgia/Auburn game in ’82 has likely been brought up during every UGA football season since it occurred on November 13, 1982. The Dawgs put on their rally cleats to stage a comeback and grab the from the Auburn Tigers.  Munson made it sound as if the Bulldogs were hanging on for dear life.

I know I’m asking a lot, you guys, but hunker it down one more time!” UGA responded by stopping Auburn on fourth down, which led to an observation which will live forever in Georgia football lure. “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky.”  Hear the call at

4.  My God a Freshman
I regret that I was not conceived yet, so that I could at least lay claim to being alive in some form when Herschel Walker announced his arrival in Athens. It was on September 6, 1980 and the Dawgs found themselves trailing the Tennessee Volunteers.

Enter freshman running back Herschel Walker. Larry Munson’s rousing reaction to Herschel’s heroics soon followed. “He’s running all over people! Oh, you, Herschel Walker.  My God almighty, he ran right through two men. They had him dead-away inside the nine. Herschel Walker went 16 yards. He drove right over orange shirts, just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!“  Hear the call.

3.  An Olympic Effort
Florida Gators football is nauseating.  From the obnoxious Gator chomp celebration, to the ridiculous statue of Tim Tebow, everything about the swamp sucks. In 1975, the Bulldogs used some trickery to pry a win from the jaws of the Gators. With Georgia in a 7-3 hole, UGA head coach Vince Dooley called a reverse pass.

To the delight of UGA fans, Larry Munson roared during the ensuing touchdown which propelled Georgia to a 10-7 victory over UF.  “Washington caught it, thinking of Montreal and the Olympics, and ran out of his shoes right down the middle 80 yards! Gator Bowl rocking, stunned, the girders are bending now. Look at the score!”  Hear the call.

The final two calls will be remembered in part III of our tribute to Larry Munson. We will also share a bit of personal recollection on what impression the Bulldog legend left on every Georgia fan who heard him call a football game.

Howard’s Rock – College Football Traditions

Gameday Approaches
As the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to descend upon death valley, we thought it would be interesting to discover the origin of Clemson’s Howard’s Rock.  Our previous experience exploring college football traditions includes a look at why the Wisconsin Badgers jump around, the history of the hedges in Sanford Stadium, and the holding up of four fingers to signify the start of the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely this post will be as interesting as the aforementioned ones, because it is about a two-and- a-half-pound rock.

The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football?
College Football About notes that Clemson’s 25 second entrance complete with the Tiger players charging down “The Hill” into Memorial Stadium has been called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”  What could possibly be so exciting about charging down a hill?  It would certainly be entertaining if a player fell and rolled down said hill as long as no one gets hurt.

“Get This Rock Out of my Office”
According to Wikipedia, Howard’s Rock was named after former Clemson head football coach Frank Howard.  Howard received the rock from a friend named Samuel Columbus Jones.  Jones bestowed this gift upon Frank Howard because he found it in Death Valley California, and he thought that Coach Howard may find it useful.  Indeed, Howard found the rock to be a perfect doorstop.

Clemson lore tells that Frank Howard was tidying up his office one day afterward when he found the rock. Coach Howard took the rock to a booster named Gene Williamson and stated, “Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in a ditch.  Do something with it, but get it out of my office.”


What is Dabo doing in this picture?

As a result of this instruction, Gene Williamson chose to place the rock near the entrance to the stadium, at a location where Clemson Tiger players would have to pass by the rock  to enter the field of play. When Clemson erased an 18 point deficit to defeat Virginia 40-35 in the 1966 season opener a couple of weeks later, Coach Frank Howard and company decided that the rock was exactly where it belonged.

Gamecocks Better Not Touch That Rock
Howard’s Rock is closely guarded by ROTC members when the South Carolina Gamecocks visit every other year to renew the annual rivalry in The Palmetto State.  The article on About notes that South Carolina fans are particularly disrespectful to this Tiger tradition.

Some College Football Fans Need to Grow up
A Google search of Howard’s Rock brings up a myriad of articles regarding its recent vandalism, including an update yesterday by Greenville News regarding the arrests made as a result. No matter where your college football loyalty lies, defacing the rock only serves to give college football rivalries a bad reputation. The extension of one’s dislike for another school should never translate to criminal activity.

ESPN College Gameday Appreciation (GameDay Heads to Knoxville)

As much as I love the sport of college football, one of the best things about fall Saturdays is watching ESPN GameDay before the games begin. Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Chris Fowler genuinely seem to be having fun on the job. It will be a sad day to be a college football fan when Lee Corso retires.

The folks in Knoxville need to write a thank you note to UL Monroe. The GameDay bus was probably gassing up for Fayetteville, Arkansas until the Warhawks pulled off a shocker. The video below has nothing to do with this subject matter, but it is one of the most entertaining Lee Corso picks I have seen.

Should the Volunteers be victorious against the Florida Gators this weekend, then everyone in Bulldog Nation needs to be ready in two weeks when the Vols come to town. Tennessee presents a number of challenges offensively, and probably poses the biggest regular season threat to the Dogs’ BCS chances.

Wisconsin Badgers Jump Around – Top College Football Traditions

I will love the Wisconsin Badgers forever I think, mainly because of their zanily (invented word) endearing fans.  Georgia has their own version (as do many other college football teams) but the University of Wisconsin’s version of Jump Around between the 3rd and 4th quarters of games at Camp Randall stadium in Madison is the original and still the best of all.

This version doesn’t get going until 41 seconds in, but this Jump Around example is well done and especially endearing because the Arizona State players join in with the fun…and I guess this is the point.  There is a beauty to celebration, even taking a moment when opposing teams (and their fans) remind us that we are lucky to be here together.