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PETA urges Mississippi State to retire its live mascot after Week 5 sideline incident

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You just knew this organization, which has shoved itself into the sport of college football on multiple occasions over the years, was going to toss its two copper Lincolns into the conversation.

Early in the first quarter of what would turn into an Auburn win over Mississippi State, running back Boobee Whitlow scored on a 30-yard run for the first touchdown of the SEC West matchup.  As Whitlow crossed the goal line, though, he was pushed by a Bulldogs defender, a push that sent him flying into MSU’s live mascot, Jak.

Monday, MSU offered an update on the dog, stating that “Jak is okay” and “will spend the football bye week making a full recovery from bruising to his chin and right hind leg.” The mascot is expected to be on the sidelines when MSU takes on Tennessee Oct. 12 in Knoxville.

If People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA has its way, however, Jak — or any other university with a live mascot for that matter — won’t be on the sidelines ever again as the organization sent a letter to MSU “urging [it] to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future.”

“It was sheer luck that this close call didn’t leave Jak severely injured or even dead, and it’s never been fair game to subject a dog to the bright lights, screaming fans, and booming noise of a football stadium,” PETA senior director Marta Holmberg said in a statement. “PETA is urging MSU to be a dog’s best friend and end its live-mascot program—and we’ll gladly help find Jak a loving adoptive home where he can live out the rest of his days in peace.”

In its statement, we’re reminded that “PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment’ — opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview.”

For those interested in the entire letter sent to MSU president Dr. Mark Keenum, read on:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide. Concerned citizens are contacting us about an incident in which a football player apparently collided with Jak, Mississippi State’s live bulldog mascot, during the September 28 game against Auburn University.

In light of this close call—which could easily have left Jak severely injured or even dead—as well as the cruelty inherent in using living beings as “mascots,” I urge you to retire Jak and pledge not to use live animals in the future.

Using vulnerable animals as mascots is a recipe for disaster. For example, at this year’s Sugar Bowl, Bevo, the longhorn steer used by the University of Texas, apparently broke out of an enclosure and charged the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga, nearly trampling him.

Even if animals survive their stints as mascots without losing a limb or their life, it’s hard to imagine that they enjoy appearing before raucous crowds. Being forced into a stadium full of bright lights, screaming fans, and loud noises can be stressful—and even terrifying—for sensitive animals like dogs, who would much rather be at home with loving guardians.

Bulldogs like Jak are also predisposed to many congenital ailments as a result of inbreeding and being bred for distorted physical features, including severe breathing difficulties, hip dysplasia, and heart disorders. Poor ventilation and hot or humid weather can be deadly for bulldogs, and traveling is especially taxing on them. What’s more, breeding dogs to use as mascots—or for any reason—is unconscionable, given our country’s staggering canine overpopulation crisis.

Public opinion has turned against using animals for “entertainment,” and most universities and professional sports teams have switched to using costumed human mascots instead of real animals. Unlike animals, human mascots can lead cheers, interact with the crowd, and pump up the team—all willingly.

May we please have your assurance that you will bring Mississippi State into the 21st century by giving Jak the retirement he deserves and pledging not to use real animals as mascots? Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.