Mr. Mascot A Ph.D. studies the art and science of wearing blue fur

August 17, 2003

The 12 furry beasts recently named to the collegiate All-America
Mascot Team can stand tall--they've all won the approval of the
world's preeminent mascot expert. Dr. Roy Yarbrough (he has a
Ph.D. in sports management studies) has been fascinated by
mascotry ever since he pulled on a homemade Panther costume and
performed at Illinois's Greenville College in the late 1960s. "A
person in costume sees things differently than other people," he
says. "I know what that person is thinking."

The ability to get inside a mascot's head helped Yarbrough, the
55-year-old director of the sports management program at
California University of Pennsylvania, to write the undisputed
bible of the mascot industry, the 330-page Mascots: The History
of Senior College & University Mascots. From it one can learn
that the eagle is by far the nation's most popular mascot (74
schools); that the first college sports mascot was the University
of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek in 1926; and that the Valdosta
State Dragon wears size-30 shoes. Yarbrough's obsession also made
him a natural to serve as one of the five panelists (the original
Phillie Phanatic was another) who selected the All-America team
from a list of 240 candidates based on sportsmanship, community
service and interaction with fans. The finalists were Cocky
(South Carolina), Chip (Colorado), Hairy Dawg (Georgia), Harry
the Husky (Washington), Aubie (Auburn), Monte (Montana), Scratch
(Kentucky), Brutus Buckeye (Ohio State), Smokey (Tennessee),
Albert (Florida), Big Red (Western Kentucky) and YoUDee
(Delaware). Next, a Mascot of the Year will be chosen from this
group through online voting (www.capitalbowlone.com) and
announced on Jan. 1. For what it's worth, Matthew Perkins, a
Georgia sophomore who inhabits his school's mascot, sees himself
as the favorite. "Hairy Dawg (above, back row, second from left)
is the best-looking mascot," says Perkins. "He has an intense
look."

As for Yarbrough, he's now working on a follow-up volume
detailing the mascots at some 750 community colleges, such as the
Kalamazoo (Mich.) College Hornet. He's also planning to open a
mascot academy. "More people want to be trained," he says. "With
fans, do they understand a good touch versus a bad touch? Do they
understand dehydration? Do they understand how to stand on their
heads?" Yarbrough envisions a three-day course that will teach
nutrition and fitness as well as the business side of being a
mascot. "I believe," he says, "that this is an element of our
sports tradition that has been greatly overlooked." --Julia
Morrill

COLOR PHOTO: CAPITAL ONE (MASCOTS)
COLOR PHOTO: FRED VUICH (YARBROUGH) INSIDE JOB Yarbrough once worked in costume.
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)