Victor E. Bull competes for title of "Mascot of the Year"
UB faculty and staff are urged to vote for university's mascot in online balloting for national contest
By SUE WUETCHER
Victor E. Bull is the BBOC (Big Bull on Campus) at UB these days.
The spiritual leader of the university's athletic teams has risen to the upper ranks of the national mascot scene by being named to the first-ever, Capital One All-American Mascot Team. And that puts Victor in the running for the title of "Mascot of the Year."
Victor is competing against 11 other mascots, including the Penn State Nittany Lion, the University of Florida Gator and Otto, the Syracuse University Orangeman. The winner, to be selected by fans voting via an online ballot, will be announced during the Capital One Bowl game on Jan. 1.
"Each year the best college football players are named to All-America teams, and for the first time ever, college mascots will have their own team," said Pam Girardo, manager of consumer public relations for Capital One Financial Corp., a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer-lending products.
"Mascots have a passion and an energy that keeps thousands of college football fans screaming and yelling and coming back each week for great football," said Girardo. "What better way is there to recognize these unsung heroes than to bring together the best of the best and then have the fans select the National Mascot of the Year.
"Capital One thinks it is time to give these true heroes the recognition they deserve."
The mascot contest was open to all NCAA Division I-A and I-AA school mascots representing football programs.
Jill Rexinger-Kuhn, director of promotions for the Division of Athletics, said UB received a nomination packet for the mascot contest in late August, and decided to enter after the Bulls-Connecticut football game on Sept. 14 during which skateboarding icon Tony Hawke made a pre-game and halftime appearance.
A packet of nomination materials was sent to Capital One, including a video demonstrating Victor's interactions with fans during games, a Victor bobblehead doll, a stuffed Victor doll, T-shirts and Victor autograph cards, she said.
A panel of judges composed of representatives from ESPN, Capital One and the mascot community selected and notified the 12 finalists on Sept. 21. Judging criteria included fan interaction, demonstration of good sportsmanship and community service involvement.
"It's definitely an honor to be among the finalists; we're proud to see Victor in the same class as the Penn State Nittany Lion and the Florida Gator," Rexinger-Kuhn said.
The judges ranked the 12 finalists, and that ranking, along with results of online voting by fans, will determine the "Mascot of the Year," she explained.
As of press time, the Nittany Lion was leading balloting with 30 percent of the votes cast. Victor had received 3 percent, the same as Otto the Orangeman.
"The message I'd like to give faculty and staff is to please take a minute out of your day to vote for Victor," Rexinger-Kuhn said.
Members of the UB community may cast their votes for Victor by visiting http://www.ubathletics.buffalo.edu/spirit/allamericanvictor.shtml. Balloting will end on Dec. 20.
Victor already has earned $5,000 for UBeach of the 12 finalists will receive $5,000, payable to its school's athletic department, for use in scholarships and funding of the mascot program. The "Mascot of the Year" will receive an additional $5,000, for a total of $10,000.
In addition to Victor, Otto and the Nittany Lion, the other mascots named to the All-American team are Albert the Gator, University of Florida; Big Al, University of Alabama; Big Red, Western Kentucky University; The Bird, U.S. Air Force Academy; Buzz the Yellow Jacket, Georgia Tech; Monte the Grizzly, University of Montana; Sebastian the Ibis, University of Miami; Seymour the Eagle, Southern Mississippi University and Smokey the Hound, University of Tennessee.