It's summer...and even though my New York Yankees have reeled off 10 straight wins, it is still a boring time of year for sports. Everyone is still waiting for college football season to start, and the closer we get to the beginning of the season, things will get more exciting. For now, I was most intrigued by a column written in Lindy's pre-season football magazine. An article on lists; such as, "Top Five BCS Champions", or "12 Hottest Coordinators", or "Five Best Live Mascots". The first lists I mentioned were very subjective, and I agreed with only a few of their selections. As far as "Live Mascots" go, I agreed with a few, yet, I wonder about schools who use Dead mascots and why they're not being mentioned.
At number five was Southern Cal's "Traveler". The horse who is ridden by the Ben Hur looking character is nice, but why doesn't the guy in the red skirt have a name? Maybe he is Ben Hur. In 1961, the original rider of "Traveler" wore the original costume from the movie "Ben Hur", starring Charlton Heston.
At number four is Auburn's "War Eagle". This is actually very confusing. Auburn folks say, their nickname is "Tigers", and "War Eagle" is a battle cry. Yet, the pre-game flight of the eagle in Auburn gets the crowd pretty worked up. I say, let's settle this once and for all. Put the tiger and the eagle in a big cage and may the best mascot win. (I'm betting on the tiger.)
Number three is Colorado's "Ralphie". The current buffalo "Ralphie" is the third one that has led the Colorado football team out on the field for their home games. The first two were provided by media mogul Ted Turner. Don't know who furnished "Ralphie III". It is exciting though to see a big bison leading the team on the field of play. I sure hope the cheerleaders or handlers who take care of "Ralphie" don't let go of the ropes when he hits top speed. It might be hard to get him back in his cage.
Number two is "UGA", the beloved English Bulldog mascot at the University of Georgia. Now I love Bulldogs, l even once had a Bulldog. Her name was Mavis, and each night when I would come home from work, after midnight, she would come downstairs, sit in my lap and share beer and popcorn with me. This was an every night occurance, not just every now and then, but every single night. She even knew what time I would get home and started meeting me at the door. I have a hard time seeing any kind of intimidation coming from an English Bulldog. I love "UGA", but folks in Athens have spoiled that dog to the point of keeping it in an air conditioned dog house, and on those extra hot days early in the season, they add a big bag of ice for "UGA" to lay on.
Finally at number one is, "Bevo" the huge long horn bull from Texas. He is without a doubt the biggest mascot in college football, and could also be the most intimidating. But......"Bevo" has been neutered. How can any mascot be intimidating after being neutered. A group of alumni at Texas even proposed having "fake testicles" put on "Bevo" to in their words, "increase his masculinity."
Enough on lists. Hurry up, college football. Get here soon, before we all go crazy.
Contact Randy Smith at email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have two grandchildren (Coleman and Boone).