KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Football time in Tennessee may be in full swing, but the Volunteers have been without a notable canine figure on the sidelines so far this season.
A university spokesperson confirmed that Smokey XI, the newest bluetick coonhound tapped to take over gameday mascot duties, remains in training at this time.
The two-year-old dog’s father and predecessor, Smokey X, was prepared to run through the T at Tennessee’s home opener against Austin Peay on Saturday had inclement weather not forced the tradition to be canceled.
He is prepared to lead the team through the T at any future home games until Smokey XI is fully trained to take over all gameday duties.
Smokey X began his mascot career in 2013. He is the first of a new bloodline born and raised in Tennessee.
“Salute to Smokey” was the theme of homecoming at Tennessee last year, celebrating Smokey X’s decade on the sidelines and heralding the arrival of a successor. He was also present at the state Capitol Building when the Bluetick Coonhound became the state of Tennessee’s official dog breed in 2019.