1995 – 2003
Smokey VIII in Service
Smokey VIII was able to preside over the 1998 national championship win for the Vols despite an obstruction in his colon. After traveling to Tempe, Arizona, for the first-ever national championship in college football’s Bowl Championship Series, Smokey VIII seemed out of sorts. A trip to a local vet revealed that he had eaten a hotel washcloth. Smokey VIII led the Vols onto the field like nothing was wrong, secured the 23-16 win over Florida State University, and had the washcloth removed after his return to Knoxville. While he served from 1995 to 2003 under head football coach Phillip Fulmer, the Vols also won two Southeastern Conference championships. Smokey VIII retired after the 2004 Peach Bowl and died in 2006 from complications of high blood pressure and kidney disease.