1962 – 1977
Men’s Head Basketball Coach Ray Mears and Big Orange Country
Ray Mears was head coach of the men’s basketball team from 1962 to 1977, tallying a 278-112 winning record that put him in the top 20 of the Tennessee, SEC, and NCAA coaching record books. The Vols won three SEC championships under Mears, winning outright in 1967 and 1977 and sharing the title in 1972. Mears is known for originating the tradition of running through the T during the 1962 season when players ran onto the court before each home game. He also coined the term Big Orange Country to represent Tennessee basketball fans. That name later influenced UT’s branding campaign launched in 2012 and the Volunteer family tradition of wearing orange each Friday, known as Big Orange Fridays, which began in 2013.