Volunteers Overview

Fast facts

League: NCAA Football

Head Coach: Josh Heupel

Team Mascot: Smokey XI

Year Opened: 1921

Capacity: 101915

City / State: Knoxville / Tennessee

Rivalries & Top Games to Attend

Third Saturday of October

Rival Team: Alabama Crimson Tide

The matchup between the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee is dubbed the Third Saturday in October as that is when the game was traditionally played before the SEC split into Eastern and Western divisions. There is a lot of hate still between these teams although Alabama has gotten the better of Tennessee in recent years, so make sure to head to Knoxville for one of the fiercest rivalries in the nation.

Tennessee vs Florida

Rival Team: Florida Gators

The rivalry between Tennessee and Florida didn’t take off until the 1990s when the Gators and Vols fought fiercely for SEC supremacy. During the decade the two schools combined for eight conference championships with the Florida holding a slight 5-3 edge regarding conference championships won. Today the rivalry isn’t quite as fierce as it was at its height, but there is still no love lost when these two teams meet.

Tennessee vs Vanderbilt

Rival Team: Vanderbilt Commodores

Both of these teams have seen plenty of each other from across the sidelines. The Commodores don’t like the Volunteers, and you can bet that the Volunteers don’t like the Commodores either. These in-state rivals have been playing each other since 1892, and when the ‘Dores are in town, it’s the Volunteers’ job to kick them out.

Volunteers Tailgate Guide


Tennessee provides one of the most unique game day experiences filled with spirited chants, boats, great food, excellent company, and a whole lot of whiskey. A typical Volunteers tailgate starts about three and a half hours before kickoff, which will give you plenty of time to set up, get the drinks cold, and get the grills nice and hot!

One of Tennessee’s coolest traditions is the Vol Navy, which is located along the Tennessee River. It is one of the greatest tailgate spots in all of college football and something every college football fan should experience at least once. Here you’ll find about 200 boats posted up along the river decked out orange and white. Unlike other schools where tailgating takes place in large parking lots or grassy areas, Tennessee tailgates on boats! Each boat has their fair share of different food and atmosphere, but they all love the Tennessee Volunteers.

The drink of choice here in Tennessee is whiskey. If you’re new to the Tennessee tailgating scene, just bring some fine whiskey, and you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Volunteers fans don’t just drink any whiskey, though; they only drink Tennessee whiskey so come prepared!

Another favorite tradition in Knoxville is the Salute to the Hill. Before every home game, Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Marching Band marches to the stadium, playing “Rocky Top” on their 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.

You’ll also want to check out the Vol Walk, which is one of the latest and most well-loved Tennessee pregame traditions. 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. 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. Make sure to here at least two hours early to witness this excellent pregame event.

Relaxing by the water, ice cold whiskey in hand, good company, and Volunteer spirit are what make the Tennessee tailgate one to remember.


Vol Walk

Along the Tennessee River, about 200 boats are posted up on food and drinks, and they are asking for people to join them because of the more Volunteers, the better. This tradition of tailgating on boats started when Tennessee broadcaster, George Mooney, chose to take his boat to the stadium rather than deal with the road traffic around Neyland Stadium. Since then, it has become a staple of Tennessee tailgating.

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Vol Navy

The Vol Walk tradition dates back to 1990 and is an outstanding way to show off your Vols pride before the game. Arrive at two hours before the game at Volunteer Village to witness this hair raising game day tradition.

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Volunteer Village

For those bringing the family, head to the Volunteer Village on the west side of the stadium. It is open three and one-half hours before all home football games; Volunteer Village offers a plenty of pre-game festivities for fans of all ages including interactive inflatable games, live bands and WIVK’s Sportstalk “Game Day All Day.” You’ll also get the chance to interact with a variety of Tennessee athletes and pep squad members at Volunteer Village. Athletes from other Vols teams sign autographs, while the mascots Smokey and Jr. Smokey, as well as the cheerleaders and dance team, make guest appearances. It is an unforgettable game day experience, and it will also serve as a prime location to watch the Volunteers make their journey to Neyland Stadium during the Vol Walk.

Where to tailgate

Volunteers Stadium Guide

In Game

Tennessee is the finest programs in the SEC having produced some of the greatest players in both college football and professional football history including Peyton Manning and Reggie White. Their reputation speaks louder than their bright orange and white colors. Having played their first season in 1891, the Vols have played football for well over a century, with their combined record of 811-367-54, ranking them tenth on the all-time list. They have won 13 conference championships and six national titles in their history, with their most recent national title being won in 1998. Volunteer Football is a big deal, and if you are going to attend a game, you have to be ready.

One of Tennessee’s most respected traditions is the “I Will Give My All for Tennessee Today” sign. As the team leaves the locker room to head into the tunnel that leads onto the field, the players tap the wooden sign that hangs above the door. Many fans have replicas that they keep, and it is a symbol of their love and loyalty to the Tennessee Volunteers. When cheering on the Volunteers give it your all to make sure Tennessee comes out with the victory.

You better bet that the fans in Neyland Stadium will be giving their all to aid the Vols on Saturdays. Neyland Stadium is one of the most intimidating places for opposing players to play as on game days this raucous stadium seats over 102,000 yelling and screaming Vols fans. All you’ll see in Neyland Stadium is a blob of orange and white as everyone comes decked out in the Vols colors to cheer on their team.

Come to Knoxville prepared to cheer hard for the Vols and sing Rocky Top with one of the loudest and most passionate fan bases in the country.

Things to check out

Running Through the T

Since the 1964 season, the Volunteers have entered the field by “Running through the T”. It starts with the band slowly getting into a T-Formation as the crowd gets more excited minute by minute. Right as it seems the stadium is about to crater into two parts, the Cheerleaders and Mascot start running onto the field and the team starts running through the T Formation. It’s a MUST SEE for a Teneesee football game!

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Smokey the Mascot

Smokey, the Dog, leads the team out of the tunnel at the beginning of each game and howls to get the crowd pumped up at halftime. Smokey is a staple at every Tennessee game, so look for him to energize the team and crowd.

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Pride of the Southland Marching Band

The Pride of the Southland Marching Band has been performing at halftime of Vols games for over 110 years. The band plays a variety of songs including fan favorite “Rocky Top” as well as Tennessee’s fight song “Down the Field.” The band shows at Vols games are a great tradition that make game days something specia

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Checkboard End Zones

Coach Dickey made a 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 checkerboard end zone remains to this day and is a unique display of Tennessee’s football history and pride.

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Rocky Top

While not the official fight song of Tennessee “Rocky Top” is perhaps the most beloved song by Tennessee fans. The Pride of the Southland Band began playing it in the 1970s, and today it is one of the most widely recognized in college sports. Come to Knoxville prepared to belt out this tune as it is a time-honored tradition.

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Fight Songs

  1. Rocky Top

    While not the official fight song of Tennessee “Rocky Top” is perhaps the most beloved song by Tennessee fans. The Pride of the Southland Band began playing it in the 1970s and today it is one of the most widely recognized in college sports. Come to Knoxville prepared to belt out this tune as it is a time honored tradition.

    Wish that I was on ole rocky top, Down in the tennessee hills. Ain’t no smoggy smoke on rocky top,
    Ain’t no telephone bills.
    Once there was a girl on rocky top,
    Half bear the other half cat.
    Wild as a mink, sweet as soda pop, I still dream about that.
    Rocky top, you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me.
    Good ole rocky top,
    Rocky top Tennessee, rocky top Tennessee.  Once two strangers climbed on rocky top,
    Lookin’ for a moonshine still. Strangers ain’t come back from rocky top,
    Guess they never will.
    Corn won’t grow at all on rocky top, Dirt’s too rocky by far.
    That’s why all the folks on rocky top Get their corn from a jar.
    Rocky top, you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me.
    Good ole rocky top,
    Rocky top tennessee, rocky top tennessee.  Now I’ve had years of cramped up city life,
    Trapped like a duck in a pen. Now all I know is it’s a pity life
    Can’t be simple again.
    Rocky top, you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me.
    Good ole rocky top,
    Rocky top tennessee, rocky top tennessee.

  2. Down the Field

    The Vols’ fight song

    Here’s to old Tennessee
    Never we’ll sever
    We pledge our loyalty
    Forever and ever Backing our football team Faltering never Cheer and fight with all of your might
    For Tennessee.

  3. Salute to the Hill

  4. Tennessee Alma Mater

    On a Hallowed hill in Tennessee
    Like Beacon shining bright
    The stately walls of old UT
    Rise glorious to the sight.
    So here’s to you old Tennessee,
    Our Alma Mater true
    We pledge in love and harmony
    Our loyalty to you.  What torches kindled at that flame
    Have passed from hand to hand What hearts cemented in that name
    Bind land to stranger land.
    O, ever as we strive to rise
    On life’s unresting stream
    Dear Alma Mater, may our eyes
    Be lifted to that gleam.

Volunteers Bars & Restaurants

  1. Downtown Grill & Brewery

    Downtown Grill and Brewery

    With a menu ranging from pastas to Mexican cuisine to seafood to the finest steaks, Downtown Grill & Brewery is guaranteed to please.

    424 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  2. Half Barrel

    Half Barrel

    Offering the best beer selection and atmosphere on campus.

    1829 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA


    Bar website

    american - $

  3. O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar

    OCharleys Restaurant and Bar

    This is more than just good Southern drinks and food, it's also all about connecting with other people.

    117 Cedar Ln, Knoxville, TN 37912, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  4. Hannah’s Café

    Hannahs Cafe

    Hanna’s has the ’80s and ’90s retro dance party every weekend. Features three fully stocked bars, two floors for dancing and a huge outdoor patio.

    102 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  5. Cotton Eyed Joe

    Cotton Eyed Joe

    Four bars to serve your favorite beverages and the hottest, new music with the largest dance floor in town!

    11220 Outlet Dr #10, Knoxville, TN 37932, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  6. Preservation Pub

    Preservation Pub

    Live music, pub food & beer served on 2 stories with a speakeasy vibe & a rooftop garden deck.

    28 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - pizza - $$

  7. Cool Beans Bar and Grill

    Cotton Eyed Joe

    Come on down and cool off at the hottest bar in Knoxville and UT campus headquarters for food, fun, beer, drinks, fun, shots, pool, darts, fun, beer pong, games, fun, sports, music, fun.

    1817 Lake Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA


    Bar website

    american - $

  8. Cafe 4

    Cafe four

    Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville is Cafe 4, a pioneer of modern food and drinks.

    4 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - cafe - $$

  9. Pete’s Coffee Shop Restaurant

    Petes Coffee Shop Restaurant

    If you’re looking for wholesome and delicious breakfast and lunch options, quality service, and a comfortable environment, then Pete’s Restaurant is at the top of the list.

    540 Union Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    cafe - $

  10. Gus’s Good Times Deli

    Gus Good Times Deli

    News and specials brought to you from Gus's Good Times Deli on the UT strip!

    815 Melrose Pl, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA


    Bar website

    american - $

  11. Stock & Barrel

    Stock and Barrel

    A quality burger location that is driven by the Knoxville community using fresh, local ingredients.

    35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  12. Chandler’s Deli

    Chandlers Deli

    Amazingly delicious Southern food!

    3101 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN 37914, USA


    Bar website

    american - bbq - $

  13. Dead End BBQ

    Dead End BBQ

    Your search is over for exceptional American neighborhood barbeque in East Tennessee!

    3621 Sutherland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37919, USA


    Bar website

    bbq - $$

  14. Ye Olde Steak House

    Ye Olde Steak House

    Their juicy steak house has become especially well known to University of Tennessee Football fans.

    6838 Chapman Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37920, USA


    Bar website

    steakhouse - $$$

  15. Litton’s Market and Restaurant

    Littons Market and Restaurant

    Litton's has been a Knoxville, TN destination for the region's best burgers and desserts.

    2803 Essary Dr, Knoxville, TN 37918, USA


    Bar website

    american - $$

  16. The Original Louis’ Drive-in

    JB Dawsons Restaurant Bar spaghetti

    Our made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce, salad dressings, and hand-breaded onion rings are our specialties, but we have a wide selection of great dishes that are sure to please the entire family.

    4661 N Broadway St, Knoxville, TN 37918, USA

    865-688-4121 / 865-687-9921

    Bar website

    asian - $

  17. Mellow Mushroom

    Mellow Mushroom

    Serving Stone Baked Pizza, Calzones, Hoagies, Salads, Vegan & Gluten-Free options with a wide selection of beer since 1974.

    2109 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA


    Bar website

    pizza - $$

  18. The Copper Cellar

    The Copper Cellar

    It is the place where the food is always delicious, memories are made, and time is savored bite by bite.

    1807 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA


    Bar website

    steakhouse - $$

  19. Calhoun’s on the River

    Calhouns on the River

    Try the best BBQ, steak, and ribs in Tennessee, and make some sweet memories.

    400 Neyland Dr, Knoxville, TN 37902, USA


    Bar website

    american - bbq - $$