Like many college football rivalries, the Tennessee-Kentucky game had its own trophy for many years: a wooden beer barrel painted half blue and half orange. The trophy was awarded to the winner of the game every year from 1925 to 1997.
The Barrel was introduced in 1925 by a group of former Kentucky students who wanted to create a material sign of supremacy for the rivalry. It was rolled onto the field that year with the words "Ice Water" painted on it to avoid any outcries over an alcohol drum symbolizing a college rivalry.
The trophy was awarded to the game's winner each year, but those weren't the only times the trophy traveled the 170 miles between the two schools. Tennessee lost the game in 1953, but several orange-clad students "keg-napped" the barrel and kept it hidden in Knoxville until UK students retaliated by "dog-napping" Smokey. The barrel theft set in motion additional pranks over the next few years, but the barrel was never again involved.
Vanderbilt students stole the keg in 1960 seeking support from UT students in an upcoming basketball game with Kentucky. Commodore students returned the trophy months later without their win over the Wildcats.
Dropping The Tradition
An alcohol-related car crash involving two UK football players in 1998 prompted the end of the barrel exchange. The ceremony was cancelled for the 1998 season and the two schools mutually agreed to permanently discontinue the tradition before the 1999 game.