In the days leading up to the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, the Emerald will take a position-by-position look at Oregon and Kansas State, determining which team has the edge going into the BCS showdown on Jan. 3.
Oregon — The growth of Oregon’s athletic programs over the last half-decade has been shadowed by
Puddles The Oregon Duck (seriously, don’t get the two confused — the athletic department takes it oh-so-seriously).
Many know the story’s casual origins, of the 1947 handshake agreement between Walt Disney and then-athletic director Leo Harris that granted the University the rights to use Donald Duck’s likeness as a sports mascot shortly after the team abandoned the old-timey “Webfoots” moniker.
This costumed mascot replaced a live white duck that had drawn fire from the Humane Society, who apparently had a problem with frat boys dragging the poor guy along to every football and basketball game.
Nowadays, “The Oregon Duck,” as he has been rechristened, is all over the place, scoring points in annual mascot contests, scrapping with Houston’s mascot, losing his head skydiving, going “Gangnam Style” and running for president.
Kansas State — “Willie the Wildcat,” on the other hand, is terrifying.
Some sort of reverse-centaur type with the body of a human and the head of an oversized big cat, he’s mostly known for kicking little kids in the face during birthday parties. When he’s not ruining children’s lives, Willie is beheading other mascots, notably the Kansas Jayhawk earlier this year.
Like the Ducks, the Wildcats went through a flurry of new mascot names in the leatherhead days. First came a black Labrador named Boscoe, then came the Wildcats, the Aggies, the Farmers and finally back to the Wildcats.
For more than fifty years, a live bobcat named “Touchdown” prowled the sidelines during games. I can’t make this up either — the first Touchdown was killed by a porcupine before ever debuting at a football game. Yikes. The practice was retired in 1978.
Advantage — Oregon. This one might the most lop-sided one of them all. Both of them are feisty newsmakers in their own right, but only one of them kicked a child in a face. As hard as that GIF makes me laugh, I have to side with the Ducks on this one.