Now at the halfway point, competition for the big bird on campus has reached a high perch across colleges nationwide. Fans have been flocking to www.capitalonebowl.com to cast more than 800,000 votes for the biggest crowd-pleaser. With only six weeks left, voters can still make a difference in determining the outcome of this influential election.
The contenders for Capital One Mascot of the Year are: Air Force (The Bird), Auburn (Aubie), Georgia (Hairy Dawg), James Madison (Duke Dog), Kentucky (Scratch), Maryland (Testudo), Minnesota (Goldy Gopher), Montana (Monte), Nevada-Las Vegas (Hey Reb), South Carolina (Cocky), Virginia Tech (Hokie Bird) and Western Kentucky (Big Red).
According to current standings posted at www.capitalonebowl.com, James Madison’s Duke Dog is leading the pack, with Georgia’s Hairy Dawg and South Carolina’s Cocky right on his paws. Big Red is 1-3 through the first four weeks of voting despite leading all mascots with 425, 869 total votes.
“The 12 contenders have wildly supportive fan bases,” said Pam Girardo at Capital One. “The mascots and their supporters realize the power that comes with Mascot of the Year status and have been aggressively encouraging their constituencies to visit www.capitalonebowl.com to cast their votes. We’ve seen fliers, billboards, posters, e-mail campaigns, stadium signage — you name it. The Air Force Academy’s Bird even skydived into Falcon Stadium wearing a vote for me flag.”
CAST YOUR VOTE
Voting consists of 11 weekly match-ups between the finalists (polls close on Dec. 26). The mascot with the best win-loss record will win the on-line portion of the contest. This “popular” vote will be combined with a judges’ ranking from the initial round of competition (50-50 weighting) to determine who gets the ultimate title. The National Mascot of the Year winner will be announced on Jan. 1, 2005, during the nationally televised Capital One Bowl on ABC.
This year’s diverse crew was chosen from Division I-A and I-AA athletic programs. They made the squad after being ranked on mascot musts such as: (1) interaction with fans, (2) sportsmanship and (3) community service. The panel of judges, include mascot guru and historian Dr. Roy Yarbrough, former college mascot and current sports marketer from Richmond Sports Backers Scott Schricker, and representatives from ESPN and Capital One.
Over the past three years, Capital One has helped thrust the spotlight on these unsung heroes of the gridiron. Team members star in a national advertising campaign, which this year features the mascots as they vie for the heart of “Maiden Melissa” in ads spoofing reality dating shows. In addition to hoopla, each mascot receives $5,000 for the school’s mascot program. The Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 scholarship to help fund its school’s mascot program.
ABOUT CAPITAL ONE
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One FSB, offer consumer-lending products. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in McLean, Va., 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.