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The Best Damn Mascot in the Land

Brutus Buckeye: A Man for All Sporting Seasons

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: his name is Brutus Buckeye. His name is not Bucky (a tip of the cap to Mr. Buckingham U. Badger). His name is not Brutus The Buckeye. We used that The elsewhere. Brutus Buckeye. First name Brutus, last name Buckeye. It says so on his draft card.

The best damn mascot in the land was born in 1965 as the brainchild of two students. Ray Bourhis and Sally Huber suggested that an actual Buckeye nut be the mascot. Other universities had begun to adopt the idea of live mascots in stadiums, but the administration at OSU quickly deemed a live buck deer to be “impossible” for reasons of practicality (and wisely so). Thus, Brutus took form as a nameless papier mâché head in October of that year.

Original mascot, 1965
OSU Archives

The mascot was a hit, but the format proved to be...less than the face of a cold and wet Midwestern fall. To boot, it was actually quite heavy. By November, the university replaced the then 2-week-old papier mâché version with a fiberglass head of the same basic design. A Nov. 21 article in the Dispatch reported that a campus contest had deemed the new mascot “Brutus Buckeye.”

Second mascot, 1965
OSU Archives

Brutus persisted in more or less his same form until 1975, when the university tried out a new format during tilts with Big Ten foe Michigan State and independent Penn State (the latter surely coming off a real slobber-knocker with Holy Cross or Temple or such powerhouse). Fans, students, and alumni alike hated the new smaller head and its oddly sneering visage. As a result, the administration quickly resurrected the fiberglass Brutus costume.

1975: Not a good look
OSU Archives

In 1977, the questionable design tastes of the decade again reared their heads with another attempted re-design. The result fared better than the 1975 effort, but looks to the modern eye like a Thomas the Tank Engine extra of some variety. Brutus gained almost 60 pounds of weight and a ball cap. The design itself was liked, but the extra weight proved too cumbersome for the wearers.

A nut from the Island of Sodor
OSU Archives

Brutus remained largely the same through the early 1980s, when another redesign brought him much closer to the format he maintains today, and one that is largely de rigueur for football mascots: a costume head with body that closely resembles that of the wearer. In 1982, he donned the striped scarlet & gray shirt and “00” numerals he wears to this day...a portent of a playoff game score yet to come (ha!..stole your sorry joke, clowns).

Brutus’ place in mascot history was cemented by Lee Corso in 1996, when he donned a costume head for the first time ever as he picked OSU to defeat the accursed Notre Dame fighting Irish for the second time in as many showdowns.

A tradition is born.
Eleven Warriors Photo

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Brutus received minor tweaks to update his face and “beef up” the costume body. He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame alongside his B1G friends Big Red and the aforementioned Mr. Badger, and pro greats like Mr. Met and the Phillie Fanatic. (Note that no crusty, scarf-wearing, rummage sale pajama sacks have been inducted.)

Perhaps what can be hailed as Brutus’ most infamous moment came in 2010. Ohio University’s Rufus the Bobcat tackled the Buckeye mascot as head led the team onto the field, yielding one of the strangest moments in the history of non-conference cakewalks

As the Buckeyes were running onto the field, Brandon Hanning, dressed as Rufus the Bobcat, saw Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye leading the team and charged into the field. Hanning failed in his initial sideswiping attempt on Brutus, losing his mascot head in the process. Hanning then got back on his feet and ran after Brutus and jumped on his back and continued to hit the mascot in the head. Hanning was then pulled aside by security who told him to stop. Neither Rufus nor Brutus were harmed during the event. After the game, Hanning was terminated from his position as Ohio's mascot, and was banned from attending Ohio home athletic events.

In a post-game interview, Hanning explained that this was his sole purpose in trying out to be the mascot. "It was actually my whole plan to tackle Brutus when I tried out to be mascot," Hanning explained, "I tried out about a year ago, and the whole reason I tried out was so I could come up here to Ohio State and tackle Brutus." When asked if the attack on Brutus was the first mascot brawl he had been in he replied with, "Before this, I actually got in a fight with the Buffalo mascot. He's a bull. I started it. I was thinking I should go ahead and try out tackling another mascot. I brought a red square cape thing, like in a bullfight. He was just playing around, acting like he was charging me. I tackled him and put him on the ground. It was pretty funny. No one got upset because it wasn't Ohio State."

Well, no one got upset because the Bull wasn’t leading the entire team onto the field at the time. Details, details.

Ohio U. lost the game 43-7.

Brutus continues to delight fans at OSU events today. In 2015, he celebrated his 50th birthday at a night game against Minnesota. The Best Damn Band in the Land played Happy Birthday, and the original 1965 fiberglass Brutus appeared alongside his smiling and much more athletic descendant.

Two Bruti take the field.
GF3 Photo

Brutus is portrayed by both male and female Buckeye students.