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August 04, 2004

Tennessee: Our Orange Or No Orange

FROM THE FOUR PRIMARY COLORS come an infinite number of shades, hues, tints, tones, lusters, sheens and patinas.

The color police (AKA: licensing folks) at the University of Tennessee have recently been battling some unpleasant variations on the official Vols orange, which is officially known as Pantone 151.

If anyone can claim ownership of orange, it’s probably Tennessee. Orange and white have been the school’s colors for over 110 years.

Syracuse, Texas, Florida and Auburn take note. And Virginia Tech, Milligan, Wheaton, Virginia Wesleyan, Waynesburg, Wartburg, Wisconsin, Virginia, Illinois, Union, Texas-Brownsville, Sam Houston State, Princeton, Oregon State, Mercer, Lewis & Clark, Baker, Virginia State, CIT and Eastfield take note too.

And Tropicana, Sunkist, Orangina, Le Grande Orange (Rusty Staub of the Montreal Expos, remember him?).

How important is a color? Why do non-red Ferraris look wrong? Why do the Oakland Raiders look ferocious? Why do real men refrain from wearing pink? And didn't Adam pick that forbidden fruit by color?

There’s a lot riding on Vols orange. The university collects royalties of about $3 million a year from the 600 companies selling UT licensed products. The university's Office of Trademark Licensing, which is in charge of approving designs using the protected logos, strongly encourages companies to get the orange right.

The classic story of why Tennessee chose orange for its school color is because fans can wear it to the game on Saturdays, hunting on Sundays and picking up trash along the highway during the week.

That’s Tennessee humor for you.

(this 249 word excerpt—with attendant annotations—was distilled from a 738 word article from the Sun-Herald [MS] of 8-2-04)