Mascot Bracket: Purdue Pete versus Smokey
Purdue Pete is a mascot of Purdue University. Despite his visible and constant on-field presence at Purdue sporting events, Pete is not the official mascot of the university. The official mascot of Purdue is the Boilermaker Special. Purdue Pete was first designed as a logo by the University Bookstore in 1940. They would put it on their products and portray him dressed up in different clothes for the different majors. He got the Purdue part of his name from Purdue University. The owners of the bookstores gave him the name “Pete”, yet no one officially knows why this was chosen to be his name. He was given a physical identity in 1956 as he came out and helped the students cheer at a pep rally. Over the years, the appearance of Purdue Pete has gone under several drastic changes as well as several minor changes. His original head was made of paper-mâché, pasted onto a chicken wire frame. This was very inconvenient for the person who would be underneath because it would limit his movements, yet he was still expected to move around and do stunts. This head was changed to a giant fiberglass head where the person inside would use a harness to support it. This was impractical due to the sheer size of it. In the 1980s, Purdue Pete acquired the appearance he is now associated with. Proposals to switch to a soft-sculpture costume were rejected in 2006 and 2011.
Smokey is the mascot of the University of Tennessee sports teams. These teams, named “The Volunteers” and nicknamed “the Vols”, use both a live and a costumed version of Smokey. There is an actual Bluetick Coonhound mascot, Smokey X, who leads the Vols on the field for football games. The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity cares for the hound on the University of Tennessee campus. There is also a costumed mascot that appears at every Vols game and has won several mascot championships. The costumed Smokey has a female counterpart that appears at the women’s athletic
events. Smokey was selected as the mascot for Tennessee after a student poll in 1953. A contest was held by the Pep Club that year. Their desire was to select a coon hound that was native to Tennessee. At halftime of the Mississippi State game that season, several hounds were introduced for voting. “Blue Smokey”, owned by a Rev. Bill Brooks was the last, and howled loudly when introduced. The students cheered and Smokey became the mascot. The most successful of the live dogs was Smokey VIII, who saw a record of 91-22, two SEC titles and one National Championship. The mascot has gained fame for competing in national mascot competitions and appearing in the Capital One National Commercials. The live hound has been featured intelevision news segments.