Ryan O'Donnell spent a good five minutes trying to situate himself atop the broad shoulders of fellow University of Illinois student Frank Toland. It might not have been such a chore if O'Donnell hadn't been wearing an full-body spandex Orangeman costume.
O'Donnell finally found himself precariously perched on Toland's shoulders just as the mobile camera for ESPN's "College GameDay" went scurrying above the assembled masses at Clark and Addison streets. He let out a mighty yell and pumped his fists in hopes of standing out.
This approach was in line with O'Donnell's simple Orangeman philosophy: “Get loud. Make sure you're noticed.”
O'Donnell has honed his craft at Illini football games this season.
Illinois, which is currently debating whether or not it will find a new mascot after Chief Illiniwek's retirement, has a volunteer in O'Donnell.
“I'm down with that,” he said when asked whether he'd be willing to step up in Chief Illiniwek's absence. “Sounds like a good mascot to me: The Orangeman.”
O'Donnell joined several of the eccentrically dressed Saturday prior to the Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field.
Among the costumed was Jeff Schell, a 2004 Northwestern grad. He sported a purple velour frock, ascot and a Elvis-style wig tucked under an NU hat.
Schell was indignant when asked whether he was dressed as a video game villain.
“I'm supposed to be Prince,” he said. “But I guess that works, too.”
It certainly isn't the first time Schell has gone all out for a Northwestern game.
“Basically, I try to one-up myself every time with any purple costume that's relatively well known.”
“This,” he said, referring to his Prince costume, “is an achievement for me.”
While Schell's getup was certainly impressive, few went as far as one particular 43-year-old fan, who pointed out that he's married with five children.
For reasons made evident by his purple and white painted face and bald head -- a look he said was inspired by the Blue Man Group -- this rabid Wildcats fan asked that his name not be used.
“My kids aren't coming out to the game today,” he said. “They think I'm a little pathetic.”
Pathetic, maybe. But in this scene, he fit right in.