Goldy struts his stuff in national mascot face-off

The “U’s” furry friend made it to the Capital One Bowl National Mascot of the Year finals.

Devin Henry

The Gophers football team didn’t make it to a Bowl showdown this year – but Goldy Gopher did.

The University’s mascot has reached the finals in the Capital One Bowl National Mascot of the Year contest, where people can go online and vote for their favorite mascot.

The Capital One Bowl is the only bowl game that sponsors a mascot contest.

on the web

To vote for Goldy in the Capital One National Mascot of the Year contest, go to www.capitalonebowl.com

After going 5-6 in the regular season of voting, Goldy swept past Cocky from the University of South Carolina and the Hairy Dawg from the University of Georgia to face the undefeated Zippy from the University of Akron in the finals.

Capital One spokesman Stephan Schooff said the six-year-old competition was originally meant to honor the “unsung heroes of college football.”

“The mascots were not really getting their due attention,” he said. “We really wanted to give the mascots of the nation their day in the sun.”

When Goldy was entered into the contest, the University’s cheerleading program won a $5,000 award from Capital One, and if Goldy wins the championship, the program would get another $5,000.

The 12 participating mascots, each of which was nominated by school officials or their cheerleading and mascot programs, are also involved in nationally broadcasted commercials, which, Schooff said, puts the schools at the forefront.

“Once the universities participate in this process and they really see what it does for the university and how it really electrifies the alumni and student base,” he said, “the majority of the universities really want to come back and keep doing it.”

Mechanical engineering first-year Sam Paitich said he has gone to all of the Gophers football, basketball and hockey games and thinks Goldy is a big part of the atmosphere.

“We always have him do the spin the head,” he said. “That always adds spark to the game.”

Paitich said he votes for Goldy at the Capital One Bowl Web site almost every day, and will continue to do so through the last day of voting, which is Dec. 18.

Sophomore psychology student Katie Achman said she saw the Facebook group promoting the competition, but didn’t vote for Goldy because she didn’t know how.

Achman said, however, that she would vote for Goldy over Zippy the kangaroo.

“I think he’s really cute,” she said of Goldy.

Schooff said Goldy was selected to participate in the contest because he excelled in each of the judging criteria – interaction with fans, national prominence and originality and professionalism.

Junior chemistry student and Gophers cheerleader Michelle Kuhnly also said she has been voting for Goldy – four times, every other day.

Kuhnly said she enjoys working with Goldy at sporting events.

“We’re really lucky as cheerleaders for the ‘U’ having Goldy as our mascot,” she said. “He’s really entertaining as a mascot; he’s got a great personality and we just play off of each other. It makes games a lot more fun to watch and do.”

Senior anthropology student Danielle Bernards said she hasn’t voted in the competition, and she isn’t interested in the “whole mascot thing.”

Bernards said she doesn’t follow sports on campus either.

“I’m here to go to school,” she said.

Allie Johnson, a junior anthropology student, also said she has not voted in the competition.

“I don’t really get involved with the sports on campus,” she said.

Both Bernards and Johnson said they would choose a kangaroo over a gopher.

Schooff said almost 4.5 million votes have been cast during this year’s contest, more than any other year.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun to compete and everyone really enjoys it,” he said.

The winner will be announced at halftime of the Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, 2008.