WKU's Big Red Competing For 2003 Capital One National Mascot Of The Year

McLean, Va. — Capital One officially kicked off the second annual race for the most coveted title in the mascot world Thursday — Capital One National Mascot of the Year. Fans across the country can help decide the winner by voting for their favorite mascot at www.capitalonebowl.com until 4 p.m. (CST) on Monday, Dec. 22, 2003. The winner will be announced during the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004.

Scratching, clawing and chomping their way for this year’s crown are Big Red and 11 other talented, lovable and fuzzy college mascots from around the country that recently were selected to the 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team. While these mascots come in all shapes and sizes — three dogs, two cats, two chickens, a gator, a buffalo, a bear, a buckeye and one big red blob — they all have one thing in common: they really know how to put the “pep” into pep rally.

2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team
Albert — University of Florida
Aubie — Auburn University
Big Red — Western Kentucky University
Brutus Buckeye — Ohio State University
Chip — University of Colorado
Cocky — University of South Carolina
Hairy Dawg — University of Georgia
Harry the Husky — University of Washington
Monte — University of Montana
Scratch — University of Kentucky
Smokey — University of Tennessee
YoUDee — University of Delaware

Unlike the recent trend in Reality TV competitions, Big Red and his fellow competitors won’t have to sing (actually, they can’t even talk), eat bugs or backstab each other by voting one another out of the competition at a tribal council. This friendly competition will be decided by the online voting results at www.capitalonebowl.com (50 percent) and a panel of judges’ ranking (50 percent) of each mascot during the selection of the All-America Team. In the event that there is a tie, the judges will cast a vote for one mascot among those tied they feel best embodies the criteria of the competition.

“The university is behind Big Red 100 percent in his quest for this prestigious title,” said Dr. Wood Selig, Hilltopper Director of Athletics. “We encourage our students, faculty, alumni and fans to support Big Red by voting for him online.

“The national recognition that Big Red has received over the years is a tribute to the students who have put on the costume. Hopefully the appreciation of their time and hard work will show up in the polls.”

Last year the mascots flocked to the streets to shake paws, claws and feathers with their adoring fans and innocent bystanders. Campaign tactics included flips, spins, moonwalks and a myriad of other raw, attention-grabbing antics where they often resembled over-sized furry children. In fact, last year’s winner, Monte of the University of Montana, pulled out more than the bear necessities in his campaign for the title. There were Jumbotron tributes at games, a letter of public endorsement from a Montana senator as well as newspaper and billboard ads enticing his fans to vote for him online. On Jan. 1, 2003, Monte’s guerilla (actually grizzly) tactics won him the national title, and he won’t be hibernating this year — he’s back to defend his title.

“Last year’s competition was ‘neck and beak’ until the very end,” said Pam Girardo, mascot spokesperson at Capital One. “We expect an even fiercer battle this year with the great pack of characters competing.”

Being named the Capital One National Mascot of the year will come with its fair share of perks — the recognition, the photo shoots, a national television advertising campaign, the parties, adoring fans, bragging rights and the cash (each member of the All-America Mascot Team received $5,000 for its school’s mascot program and the Capital One National Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 for a total $10,000 prize).

About the Capital One All-America Team Competition
The second annual Capital One All-America Mascot Team and National Mascot of the Year contests began in March 2003, when nomination kits were mailed to Division I-A and I-AA schools with college football programs. In June, a panel of judges, including original Phillie Phanatic David Raymond; mascot guru and historian, Dr. Roy Yarbrough; and representatives from ESPN and Capital One, selected the 12 finalists. Judging criteria included interaction with fans, sportsmanship and community service. The team was officially announced on July 31, 2003.

About Capital One
Headquartered in McLean, Va., Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries include: Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, which offer consumer lending products, and Capital One Auto Finance, Inc., which offers auto loan products. Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 45.8 million managed accounts and $60.7 billion in managed loans outstanding as of June 30, 2003. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 500 index. Capital One’s affiliation with college football began with the sponsorship of the 2001 Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) and ESPN’s Bowl Week. In addition, Capital One sponsors the ABC College Football Halftime Report and numerous other college football programs.

— WKU —