Getty Images

After Bevo-Uga Sugar Bowl dustup, PETA calls for Texas, Georgia to end use of live-animal mascots

17 Comments

As I was watching the scene unfold New Year’s Day evening, I turned to my wife and said, “you watch PETA shove itself into this at some point.” Sadly, that thought process proved accurate.

Prior to Tuesday’s Georgia-Texas Sugar Bowl matchup, there was an attempt by both schools to get their famed live-animal mascots, Uga the bulldog and Bevo the longhorn steer, together for a pregame photo opp. Suffice to say, Bevo wasn’t having any of it.

In the aftermath of that dustup, PETA, as it has in the past when it comes to LSU’s Mike the Tiger among others, issued a statement in which it called for both Georgia and Texas to end their use of live-animal mascots.

Below is the organization’s statement, for better or worse, in its entirety:

After the Georgia Bulldogs’ mascot, Uga X, was nearly trampled by the Texas Longhorns’ steer, Bevo XV, in Tuesday’s Allstate Sugar Bowl, PETA is renewing its call for both schools to end their use of live-animal mascots. The frightening encounter, in which Bevo broke free of the metal barricades he was caged within and ran in Uga’s direction, aired live just before the game.

Bevo’s handlers were quick to say that the steer is “as docile as a lamb” and that “[h]e was just going to say hi,” and that may be true. Steers, like all animals, are individuals with unique personalities. It’s quite possible that Bevo was simply scared by the noise, lights, and chaos in the stadium and tried to flee from the confines of his makeshift pen. But that doesn’t change the fact that Uga or any of the humans standing nearby could easily have been trampled and killed.

This frightening near-tragedy is yet another example of the reason most colleges and professional sports teams retired their live-animal mascots decades ago—and the handful who haven’t yet should quickly follow suit.

Live animals used as mascots, such as Baylor University’s bears and the University of North Alabama’s lions, are held in captivity and often denied the opportunity to fulfill many of their most basic instincts. They’re frequently carted around to sporting events and public appearances, which are confusing and frightening for them. Human mascots can engage with sports fans, pose for pictures, lead cheers, and pump up their teams and fans much better than a terrified animal can. They’re also much less expensive for schools, and some universities offer scholarships for student mascots.

If your favorite team is still forcing live animals to serve as mascots, please send a polite e-mail to its fundraising or community-outreach committee urging it to use willing human participants instead.

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

Getty Images
5 Comments

As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

Getty Images
1 Comment

Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

Getty Images
5 Comments

Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.