If you follow collegiate football, you probably saw this incident when it occurred two weeks ago. If not … well, I barely picked up on it myself.
My university’s mascot is the Bobcat – as is only fitting for a cat lady like myself. Unfortunately, when Ohio University got creamed by Ohio State a fortnight ago, Rufus the Bobcat decided to pounce on Brutus the Buckeye. (I will leave you to explain how a tree nut – the buckeye – could get a name like Brutus, because I haven’t a clue.)
The man inside the cat – one former OU student by the name of Brandon Hanning – premeditated the pounce for a whole year. In fact, that’s why he tried out for the mascot gig. After the game, he was unrepentant:
“I honestly don’t know what gave me the idea,” he said. “I just thought it would be really funny.”
After Ohio State and OU played back in 2008, Hanning said he realized the two teams would play again in 2010.
“I thought it would be really cool to beat (Brutus) up, and I realized we were playing them again (this) year, so I thought I’d try out for (the part of Rufus),” he said.
On Saturday, Hanning recounted how he got dressed up and went down near the cheerleaders.
“Ohio State’s band was all over the field and they made a tunnel,” he said. “I saw Brutus walk out with a big flag, and I took off down the sideline. As soon as he started running, I just ran out to do it.”
After the incident, Hanning said that Brutus didn’t say anything to him but was obviously angry.
“It’s been mixed reactions really,” he said about the feedback he’s gotten since the game. “All the people that I know thought it was awesome. But some people that I don’t know didn’t like it too well.”
(Source: The Athens News)
Yeah. The Athletic Department was so unamused that Hanning is banned forever from impersonating Rufus again.
I agree it wasn’t an especially clever stunt. I personally have been involved in much better ones, like the time we band members each dropped a dollar bill on the field during a pregame show at USC. The ensuing pictures of the refs picking up the cash were precious. (It helped that USC had recently gotten busted for violating NCAA rules.) When it comes to college pranks, there’s a fine line between clever and stupid. Rufus landed on the wrong side of that line.
But did he deserve to be punished in perpetuity? Consider this. Had the brawl involved players instead of a cat and a nut, would anyone’s career have been forcibly ended? At my university, football players routinely get arrested for assault, drunk and disorderly, DUI, and more. As of this writing, an OU football player is facing charges of breaking-and-entering a house last spring – and there are lots of similar cases at other universities.
Then there’s the sterling example set by our head football coach, Frank Solich:
Around 9:45 on the evening of Nov. 26, 18-year veteran Athens (Ohio) police officer Krishea Osborne was ending her night shift and driving home when she noticed an SUV facing the wrong way on a one-way street. And still moving. She approached the vehicle and found Ohio University football coach Frank Solich “slumped” against the steering wheel, “pretty much drooling on himself.”
“He was not seeming to understand what I was wanting from him,” says Osborne, who adds that Solich could not locate his driver’s license and had to be asked three times to put the car in park. “He reeked. Somebody that smells that bad has had more to drink than just the three drinks he claims now. I’ve been doing this for 18 years, dealing with drunks around here and he definitely had more than three drinks, in my opinion.”
The former Nebraska football coach, who had just finished his first season in Athens and had spent that November evening having drinks at a Mexican restaurant called Casa Cantina in downtown Athens, later refused a Breathalyzer test and was charged with driving under the influence. He pleaded no contest, was fined $250 and had his license suspended. Although he was not fired from his coaching post, Solich began the humbling task of seeking redemption in the court of public opinion, right smack in the middle of the holiday season.
Not only did Solich keep his job; he’s been raking in massive bonuses and fringe benefits. (In the course of a year, he rakes in as much as ten Professor Sungolds.) He’s still here, coaching us to glorious moments like our 43-7 loss to OSU.
Hanning will never get to play Rufus again – even though he has broken no laws.
Double standard, much?