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Smokey the dog places first in Mascot National Championship Semifinals

The University of Tennessee’s mascot is on his way to national mascot glory, according to the UT athletic department.
Tennessee Mascot at Neyland Stadium
Tennessee Mascot at Neyland Stadium(Jim Boofer)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 12:31 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee’s mascot is on his way to national mascot glory, according to the UT athletic department.

Smokey the dog placed first in the semifinal round of the UCA 1A Division College Mascot National Championship. This means the dog will earn a paid bid to compete in the finals in January at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.

Twenty mascots submitted two-minute highlight videos that were judged on character development, game situations, crowd involvement, cheer, band and dance incorporation, community service and school activities. The top ten moved on to the final round, which will feature a 90-second skit before a live audience.

“Our mascot team put in an incredible amount of work this year to bring the best possible experience to fans at all of our games, community service outreaches and campus events,” mascot coach Rodney Arnold said. “We began practicing and planning in May. The team’s countless hours of investment to be the best they could be for the fans they entertain was evident in our video entry.”

Smokey hasn’t won the finals since 2008, and hasn’t placed first in the semifinals since 2008 either. Last year, Smokey was one-tenth of a point short of claiming the national championship.

“It feels good going into finals knowing that we are building on last year’s success and are in the driver’s seat this year to make Smokey a champion again,” Arnold said. “Fifty percent of the semifinals’ score carries over to finals, so with a clean routine in Orlando, we will have our best shot in years to put Smokey back on top.”

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