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University of Tennessee Athletics: Their Fans and Traditions

Aug 17, 2007
People either love or hate the wacky and fun athletic traditions of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. This article reviews some of the best-known traditions of the fans and the teams. You be the judge: are they fun, or over-the-top and obnoxious?

Everyone who has visited Knoxville, Tennessee knows that Knoxville and the rest of East Tennessee becomes a sea of raucous, orange-clad UT fans every time that game time rolls around. And game time rolls around quite often!

The Big Orange craze goes all the way from before the first home football game through the end of basketball season, and for many die-hard fans, it never stops! Heated debates about new recruits, how coaches are doing, and last season vs. next season keep Vol fans going while UT rests in late spring and summer.

UT football is more than a game; for many Vol fans, it's a way of life. The energy for each game builds to the exploding point by the time more than 100,000 fans line the path for the Vol Walk on game Saturday.

When the Big Orange scores, fireworks explode from the top of Neyland Stadium, and the 100,000-strong crowd roars Rocky Top along with the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. All together, it's an incredible experience to be a part of.

One thing's sure: the crazy enthusiasm that is Big Orange Country means a lot of support for UT Athletics, and the players and coaches know that the fans play a big role in the overall success of athletics at UT.

Another long-standing football tradition is UT's Pride of the Southland Marching Band. On game day, the band follows a parade sequence that takes them through the center of campus, into Neyland Stadium, onto the field, and ends with the "Opening of the T", through which the football team runs at the beginning of the game.

Many young football players (and UT fans of all ages) dream of running through the Pride's big T!

University of Tennessee fans have also made "Rocky Top" a tradition at Volunteer athletic events. If you don't know the tune before you go to a UT game (not very likely - but anything's possible!), you'll definitely know it by the end of the game. The more good plays UT makes, the better you'll know it!

In 1962, George Mooney, a former Tennessee broadcaster, began a UT tradition when he traveled by boat up the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium for a UT football game. The idea caught on, and soon so many people traveled to games by boat that they began to call themselves the Volunteer Navy.

The Vol Navy has become a giant floating tailgate party for often more than 200 ski and bass boats, houseboats and yachts that arrive and drop anchor on each game day.

Here's something that appears it may become a new UT Athletics tradition: the UT basketball Men's coach, Bruce Pearl (who is in his much-anticipated second season at UT), had his players spread out to the exits of Thompson-Bowling arena to thank fans (both home and away fans) for supporting the team after their first home game, and invited the fans to come back. And Pearl was right there at an exit with them.

How cool is that?! It certainly stuck with a lot of the fans who were at the game, and has broght Tennessee out in larger and larger numbers.

These are just a few of the traditions that teams and fans follow at the University of Tennessee athletic events. Truly, going to see a University of Tennessee game is a unique experience that every sorts fan would enjoy!
About the Author
Mac Bartine writes about business, entertainment and the environment for his website, KnoxvilleBusiness.com.
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