Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University’s Big Red has been named to the sixth annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team, made up of a group of 12 oversized and often underappreciated characters — including three birds, two bears, a cougar, a dog, a gopher, a kangaroo, a cavalier, a piece of ‘fruit’ and a big red creature.
Each one of these mascots will be putting their best claw, paw and talon forward while vying for the most coveted title in the land — "Capital One Mascot of the Year.”
It’s the fifth time in six years that Big Red has been voted to the Capital One All-America Mascot Team.
Starting Monday, fans can vote on-line at www.capitalonebowl.com for their favorite All-American, who will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1.
Big Red is one of six collegiate finalists for the Mascot Hall of Fame. Voting at www.mascothalloffame.com ends Thursday, with Big Red entering the final day in third place.
“Being named to the Capital One Mascot All-America Team is a great privilege for Big Red and WKU,” said the school’s Director of Marketing & Promotions Heather Soto. “Big Red made the Final Four last year, and is eager to win the Mascot-of-the-Year award in 2007. This honor cannot be achieved without the support of our loyal and dedicated fans.
“We encourage everyone to vote each week to help Big Red win the weekly match-ups, which we hope leads to Big Red being crowned the 2007 Capital One All-America Mascot of the Year.”
Big Red will be competing in a weekly head-to-furry-head face-off among this year’s other All-Americans: Zippy (Akron), Cosmo Cougar (Brigham Young), Hairy Dawg (Georgia), Goldy Gopher (Minnesota), Monte (Montana), Cocky (South Carolina), Seymour (Southern Mississippi), Otto (Syracuse), UCLA (Joe Bruin), Cavman (Virginia) and HokieBird (Virginia Tech).
“We created this contest to celebrate the unsung heroes of college football,” said Steve Schooff at Capital One. “Last year, a cougar from Washington State clawed its way to the pinnacle of mascot stardom. This year, we’re looking forward to see what mascot can put their best claw, paw or talon forward to ascend to the throne of Capital One Mascot of the Year.”
The fan vote is the sole determinant of the winner; the people choose. Voting consists of 11 weekly head-to-head match-ups between the All-Americans. The mascots with the best won-loss records face off in on-line playoffs starting in November. The winner will be pronounced Capital One National Mascot of the Year on January 1, 2008 during the Capital One Bowl.
“Mascots work as hard as anyone on the field, but are lost in the shadows of the flashy all-star quarterbacks and running backs,” said Dr. Roy Yarbrough, mascot guru and historian. “This is a great tribute to them, and fans should show their support. Bragging rights are on the line.”
This year’s fuzzy crew was chosen from Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) and I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) athletic programs with college football teams. They made the squad after being ranked on mascot musts such as interaction with fans, originality and pedigree. The panel of judges included mascot guru and historian Yarbrough, and representatives from ESPN and Capital One.
Over the past five years, Capital One has helped thrust the spotlight on these unsung heroes of the gridiron. Big Red will be starring in a national advertising campaign, which this year features the mascots participating in the Capital One Mascot Open, a series of unusual (and fictitious) golf competitions. In addition to the hoopla, Big Red received $5,000 for its school’s mascot program. The Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 scholarship to help fund its school’s mascot program.