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Et tu, Rufus?
By now, you've probably seen the video: Ohio University mascot Rufus the Bobcat sideswiping, tackling and then punching Ohio State mascot Brutus the Buckeye prior to OSU's 43-7 home victory last Saturday.
Thing is, this wasn't a goofy skit.
According to a report in the Ohio University student newspaper, Rufus' sneak attack was exactly that -- a pre-planned beatdown of an unsuspecting Brutus by the man inside the Bobcat costume, 19-year-old Brandon Hanning.
Page 2 caught up with Hanning to
go inside the mind of a mascot killer discuss the incident:
1. We want to get something straight. Did you really come up with a plan to tackle Brutus a year ago? Did anyone know about it?
Yeah! I didn't know exactly how it would happen, but that was the whole reason I tried out for the Rufus job. I told my friends about it when I tried out. That was it. They thought it would be awesome.
2. Why did you want to tackle him so much?
The year before I went to Ohio, we played Ohio State and it was actually a pretty close game. For some reason, I remembered seeing the video of the Oregon Duck beating up another mascot. I thought it would be really funny if Rufus beat up Brutus.
3. Take us through your thought process. How and why did you decide that the best way to tackle Brutus would be to suit up as Rufus?
I figured this would be the best way to do it and get in the least amount of trouble.
3a. What kind of trouble have you gotten in?
Ohio told me to never attend another one of their athletic events. Which is fine by me. I don't even go to the school anymore. I lived about 10 minutes away from campus growing up. So I'll still be a fan. I just won't go to their games.
4. Being a mascot is hard work. What kind of time and effort did you invest in being Rufus over the course of the last year ... just so you would have the opportunity to tackle Brutus?
It took a lot of time. I did a bunch of games. It was pretty fun when I was doing it. I got to travel with the team and stuff. Being the mascot wasn't the fun part. It was just going around with everybody.
5. Was this your first act of mascot-on-mascot violence?
Before this, I actually got in a fight with the Buffalo mascot. He's a bull. I started it. I was thinking I should go ahead and try out tackling another mascot. I brought a red square cape thing, like in a bullfight. He was just playing around, acting like he was charging me. I tackled him and put him on the ground. It was pretty funny. No one got upset because it wasn't Ohio State.
6. What sort of Rufus-tackling plan or strategy did you have in your mind before the Ohio State game?
I did actually think that when he was leading the team out, that was when I was going to do it. I didn't have a plan beyond that. The day before, I was thinking about it the whole time. And before the game, I had a ton of adrenaline.
7. Take us through the incident. You first sideswiped Brutus as he was running across the field. What do you remember, and how were you feeling?
The first time I ran at him, when I hit him, my head started to come off. That's why I let go. After a year of being a mascot, it was instinct to try to keep the head on. I was unsuccessful, so I threw it back on and went back to finish what I started.
8. You then chased Brutus into the end zone, climbed on his back, rode him to the ground and punched him in the head. Again, what do you remember and what were you feeling?
I just jumped on him trying to get him to the ground. All I was thinking was to make it look good. I know at least five friends who were watching from the stands. Two of them knew I was going to do it.
9. Mascots aren't supposed to speak while in costume. Did you say anything to Brutus, and did he say anything to you?
No. Neither of us said anything. But I could definitely tell he was pretty pissed off about it. I was pretty much just hitting his foam head. I didn't want to hurt the guy inside. I just wanted to make him look stupid.
10. What happened next?
Security pulled me aside and told me to stand there for a minute. Then they came over and told me not to touch Brutus again. That was the end of it.
11. You're not even a student at Ohio University anymore. You attend nearby Hocking College. Do they have a rival mascot, and do you plan to tackle it?
I don't even think Hocking has a mascot. So I don't think so.
12. You've said that the reaction to your tackle has been either love or hate. What's the most loving feedback you've gotten, and what is the most hateful?
I had a couple of players tell me they thought it was pretty funny. The athletic people in charge, they didn't like it. Some people said that I deserve to have a statue built and put somewhere. The most hateful thing was someone saying I would probably be killed, and thanks to ESPN for giving out my name and where I go to school. I'm not really worried about that.
13. Do you have any other plots in the works? We promise we won't tell anyone.
Besides this, not really. This is the only thing I've ever done that took a year of planning to accomplish. And I honestly don't want to be Rufus anymore. This was the whole reason to do it, and I feel like it all happened like it was supposed to.
Patrick Hruby is a freelance writer and ESPN.com contributor. Contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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