1. Vol Navy
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 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.
2. Running Through the T
Legendary Vols coach Doug Dickey instituted the tradition of the players running onto the field through the T. Before each game Vols players run 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 for everyone who has ever run through it.
3. Salute to the Hill
Another popular 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.
4. Checkerboard 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.
5. 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.
6. Vol Walk
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.
7. Third Saturday in October
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 despite the fact that 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.
8. 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 makes game days something special.
9. 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.
10. 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.