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Columbia Missourian

TIGER KICKOFF: Ten things you didn't know about Tennessee

By Mike Vorel
November 9, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Most Missouri fans know a few things about the University of Tennessee. They know that the football team's offense is good and that its defense isn't. They know Peyton Manning went there not too long ago before moving on to a career full of Pro Bowls and MasterCard commercials. They know, also, that Tennessee stands in the way of Missouri's first road SEC win.

Besides all that, here's 10 things you didn't know about Tennessee.


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10. “Rocky Top,” the unofficial theme song of Tennessee football, was written in a hotel room in about 10 minutes. Songwriting tandem and married couple Boudleaux and Felice Bryant wrote the song in 1967 in the Gatlinburg Inn in Gatlinburg, Tenn. They were working on songs for another album and took a break to write “Rocky Top” in their spare time. It was first recorded by the Osborne Brothers later that year.

9. The man who invented the Dumpster, a receptacle to store garbage and empty it into garbage trucks, was the mayor of Knoxville from 1952-1955. George R. Dempster patented the Dempster Dumpster in 1937, and it began to catch on nationwide in the 1950s.

8. Smokey, the blue tick coonhound that has served as Tennessee’s live mascot since 1953, allegedly took a bite out of Alabama in 2006. Before the two teams played, Alabama receiver Mike McCoy fell out of bounds after catching a pass in warm ups and landed on Smokey IX. Alabama coach Mike Shula claimed that the dog bit McCoy and drew blood. Smokey’s owner, Earl Hudson, denied everything but did say, “What dog worth his salt wouldn’t defend himself?”

7. The University of Tennessee athletic teams got the name “Volunteers” because of the state’s willingness to volunteer for military service. During the War of 1812, Gen. Andrew Jackson, who was from Tennessee, gathered 1,500 volunteers from his home state to fight in the Battle of New Orleans. Later, Gov. Aaron V. Brown called for 2,800 Tennesseans to fight in the Mexican-American War. Thirty thousand people volunteered.

6. The carbonated soft drink Mountain Dew was first invented and marketed in Knoxville by brothers Barney and Ally Hartman in the 1940s. It was initially meant to be used as a mixer with liquor, and while it can still be used for that purpose, it quickly began to stand alone as a carbonated beverage.

5. The school’s colors, orange and white, were chosen byCharles Moore, the president of the university's athletic association, in 1889. The lighter shade of orange was based off the color of the common American daisy that grew in abundance on “The Hill,” an area on the east side of campus.

4. Neyland Stadium, where the Tennessee Volunteers play their football games, holds almost 100,000 more people today than it did when it first opened in 1921. The original capacity was 3,200, but 16 renovations later, it now holds 102,455 people. As interest has grown, so too has the stadium.

3. Many Tennessee fans tailgate on boats before home games. The Tennessee River runs adjacent to Neyland Stadium, and before games roughly 200 boats float on the river as fans party on the water to prepare for the game. The tradition was started by Tennessee broadcaster George Mooney in 1962, and ever since, the “Vol Navy” has been “sailgating” before entering Neyland Stadium.

2. As an example of a law that no longer applies to present society (and probably never did), it is illegal to lasso a fish in Knoxville. So, for any Missouri fans traveling there for the weekend, heed this advice: Leave your fish lassos at home.

1. In 1974, broadcaster Walter Cronkite named Knoxville the “Streaking Capital of the World.” Streaking – or running around naked in public – had become a somewhat popular stunt at the University of Tennessee that year, with the apex coming on March 4, 1974. That night, more than five thousand men and women ran naked on the Cumberland Avenue strip on campus, an event the city's website refers to as “stripping on the strip.”