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Feature

Goldy in a football jersey.

Local star Goldy Gopher is counting on you to help him make the big time and become mascot of the year.

Go Goldy!: U mascot to battle 12 peers for national title

U mascot to battle 12 peers for national title

By Pauline Oo

Published on October 13, 2004

On the field this giant, furry creature musters cheers for the home team and jeers for the rival players. No antic is too silly for Goldy Gopher in fulfilling these tasks.

"Goldy is just a funny looking character to begin with," says John Hart, who coordinates Goldy's public appearances at the U's Spirit Squad office. "Goldy's mischievous and always looking to make people laugh. I've been at away football games in Iowa, where obviously everybody hates Minnesota, and Goldy can turn around and make those same fans yelling swear words, laugh." Goldy makes about 1,000 appearances a year and is at virtually all home games for spectator sports.

Following the grueling nomination process--that pitted wings, paws, and claws from Division I-A and I-AA athletic programs--Goldy made the 2004 Capital One All-American Mascot Team. Now Goldy's up for the national title.

Earlier this year, Hart nominated Goldy for the 2004 Capital One All-American Mascot Team. A panel of judges from Capital One Financial Corporation and ESPN carefully analyzed each contender and scored them based on their interaction with fans, sportsmanship, and community service. Following the grueling nomination process--that pitted wings, paws, and claws from Division I-A and I-AA athletic programs--Goldy made the team. The other 11 members are Aubie (Auburn University), The Bird (Air Force Academy), Duke Dog (James Madison University), Hairy Dawg (University of Georgia), Scratch (University of Kentucky), Testudo (University of Maryland), Monte (University of Montana), Hey Reb (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), Cocky (University of South Carolina), Hokie Bird (Virginia Tech), and Big Red (Western Kentucky University).

"We are thrilled to give these 12 high-octane mascots the recognition they deserve," says Diana Don Colby, a Capital One representative. "Not only do they have bragging rights as part of this elite team, but the mascots will be featured in a national TV campaign."

For 11 weeks, beginning this week, ESPN and ABC will air about 400 spots during prime-time college football featuring the winning mascots in head-to-head matchups. The commercials will encourage football fans to cast online votes for their favorite fuzzy character at www.capitalonebowl.com. The mascot with the most popular votes--combined with the judges' scores during the nomination process--will claim the coveted National Mascot of the Year title at the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2005.

"It's important that everyone who loves Goldy go online to vote because we have a pretty good shot at winning," says Hart. "And people shouldn't just vote once, but vote every week, because Goldy will have a different opponent every week."

If Goldy wins, the U's Spirit Squad office--which also takes care of the U's cheer and dance teams--will pocket another cool $5,000. Goldy already earned $5,000 for bagging a spot on the All-American Team.

"There is some monetary value [to the University] with Goldy's involvement, but more importantly, there is a lot of promotional value," says Hart. "People are going to recognize that Minnesota is really nearing the top of college football--that it's becoming one of the bigger programs around and one the best programs in the country. Goldy being named to this team reinforces the image that Minnesota football is on the upswing."

So, what does Goldy think of all this attention? The University of Minnesota mascot, literally, can't say. But Goldy gives all the hoopla two thumbs up and a wide, toothy grin.

Remember, vote for Goldy! Between October 11 and December 26, you can vote online for Goldy Gopher at www.capitalonebowl.com.

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