SI Vault
Austin Murphy
November 04, 1985
Steely-eyed, sternly handsome coach Jeff Davis is a menacing presence on the practice field—until he opens his mouth. Then you wonder if Richard Simmons has had a makeover. Beneath a pitiless midmorning sun last August at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Davis's players slouched toward the end of two-a-days, perspiring rivers under their gear. Concern creased Davis's face. Fatigue errors and mental lapses had abounded. Football season loomed a scant two weeks away. Finally he erupted with all the dreadful vehemence of a Broadway choreographer:
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 04, 1985

At Mascot U's Animal Fair All The Birds And Beasts Are There To Learn

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

"Or," added a colleague, "make like you're sweeping up after the other team's mascot, you know, embarrass him that way."

Whoa, Nelly! Time out! Hold it right there! Deliberately and in somber tones, Davis explained why suggestions of mascot excrement, however remote, were absolutely off limits.

"As a mascot, you're trying to create a make-believe character," he said. "You live in a world where there's no sex or alcohol or vice or anything like that." Nothing a mascot does, he went on, should remind spectators of the banal travails of their own daily lives. "Nothing that's not part of our make-believe world."

This was the sovereign tenet of Mascot U's curriculum, a recurring theme throughout Davis's next lecture, "Mascot Don'ts." The cardinal don'ts, then:

?No obscene gestures. "Everything you do is going to reflect on your school," warned Davis. "Whatever you do in the costume follows you. People will stop coming to games. Alumni will stop contributing. And is there any faster way than that to ruin your rapport with the administration?"

Yes—stealing its grills. But Davis's point was well taken.

"And don't encourage chants like 'Bull——! Bull——!' "

"What if we think the refs have made a bull——call?" asked Jon Mihlik, Seton Hall's Mr. Parrot.

"You can think it," said Davis, "but your character had better not show it. Reach into your prop bag. Start another chant. It's a great way to score brownie points."

?Don't talk in costume. "When you talk, you're ruining the make-believe character you're trying to create." Under Davis's critical eye, mascots were schooled in pantomime and taught to convey emotions. Mum was the word—"unless there's a real emergency, and you need to get out of the suit."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5