It turns out the bite of a wolf is mightier than the sting of a yellow jacket.
University of Nevada, Reno mascot "Wolfie Jr." is howling in celebration after capping off an undefeated season by knocking off Georgia Tech's "Buzz" in the championship of the 10th annual Capital One Mascot Challenge. With the win he gets his claws on the $20,000 prize for his school's mascot program.
A first-time participant, "Wolfie Jr." had an undefeated regular season, scrapping past other irritable beasts including ferocious tigers, terrifying beavers and freaky-looking frogs. After advancing to the playoffs and making it through two rounds of single-elimination he entered the championship match against "Buzz" of Georgia Tech. Fans cast votes at Capital One Bowl, on Facebook and via text voting throughout the 16-week program. Both mascots making the finals had an undefeated record and boasted some of the highest vote totals to date, making it one of the most anticipated matchups ever in the animal kingdom.
"We are proud of what our students and community accomplished for 'Wolfie Jr.' and the University of Nevada," said Marc Johnson, president of the University of Nevada, Reno. "Our campus has an extraordinary amount of spirit and pride and we're pleased to showcase it on a national level."
A record 45 million votes were cast during the season-long competition.
"This year's competition was intense and each mascot and school put up a ferocious fight," said Marc Mentry, senior vice president of advertising and sponsorships at Capital One. "In the end, 'Wolfie Jr.' proved to be too tough."
The entire 2011 Capital One All-America Mascot Team included:
- Wilbur T. Wildcat of University of Arizona
- Sparty of Michigan State University
- Aubie of Auburn University
- Mike the Tiger of Louisiana State University
- Testudo of the University of Maryland
- Wolfie Jr. of the University of Nevada
- Hairy Dawg of the University of Georgia
- Boomer of the University of Oklahoma
- Brutus Buckeye of The Ohio State University
- Big Blue of Old Dominion University
- The Duck of the University of Oregon
- Benny Beaver of Oregon State University
- Buzz of Georgia Tech
- SuperFrog of TCU
- Cy of Iowa State
- Big Red of Western Kentucky University
For school mascots who are not on the All-America team, the Capital One Mascot Challenge also includes an annual "write-in" campaign at the program web site, Capital One Bowl. The write-in winner this year is "Herbie Husker" of the University of Nebraska, who formerly won the 2005 Capital One Mascot Challenge title. He earns $1,000 toward the University of Nebraska mascot program and a position on the 2012 Capital One All-America Mascot Team, pending an official nomination from his school. Nebraska earned an invitation to the Capital One Bowl game and "Herbie Husker" will be in attendance in Orlando to cheer on his team and meet national champion, "Wolfie Jr."
"Wolfie Jr." is joining an elite group of mascots that have held the Capital One National Mascot of the Year title over the past 10 years. Past winners include: "Monty" of University of Montana (2002, 2004), "Cocky" of University of South Carolina (2003), "Herbie Husker" of University of Nebraska (2005), "Butch T. Cougar" of Washington State University (2006), "Zippy" of University of Akron (2007), "Cy" of Iowa State University (2008), "Bearcat" of University of Cincinnati (2009) and defending champion "Big Blue" of Old Dominion University (2010). Throughout the college football season, fans have enjoyed viewing custom videos created for each mascot portraying their entertaining back stories. Fans can continue watching these videos at: Capital One Bowl and Mascot Challenge on Facebook.