Smokey VIII


Smokey VIII passed away earlier Friday. Smokey had been in declining health, suffering from complications of high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Born Nov. 10, 1994, Smokey VIII began his reign in 1995 and retired after the 2004 Peach Bowl in Atlanta after being diagnosed with a nasal tumor in December 2003. He underwent radiation treatment and then chemotherapy. The expected prognosis, with treatment was 13 months. Smokey VIII more than doubled that at two years, four months.

"Smokey VIII responded very well to radiation treatment and chemotherapy for his nasal adenocarcinoma, surviving over a year beyond his expected prognosis," Dr. Kate Stenske, Smokey's vet at UT Veterinary Hospital, said. "He always came in with his tail wagging and a friendly howl, and he will be missed by all his friends at UT Veterinary Hospital."

Smokey VIII is the winningest Smokey, having compiled a record of 91-22 (.805), with two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship. The line of Smokeys began in 1953 when the late Rev. Bill Brooks entered his prize-winning blue tick coon hound, "Brooks' Blue Smokey," in a contest to pick the school's new mascot. Rev. Brooks supplied UT with the line of canines until his death in 1986 when his wife, Mildred, took over the caretaking role. She did so until 1994, when her brother and sister-in-law, Earl and Martha Hudson of Knoxville, took over responsibility for Smokey VII and eventually Smokey VIII, with Smokey IX now carrying on the banner of the Smokey lineage.

"My relationship with Smokey VIII was special," Earl Hudson said. "I got him when he was two months old. He served with distinction, weathered storms, cold and heat. He came through it all real well and was always rearing to go. He was a great mascot." One of the most beloved figures in the state, Smokey is famous for leading the Vols out of the giant "T" prior to each home game.


Published in Knoxville News Sentinel on Mar. 17, 2006