Hairy Dawg also was an All-American mascot in 2003 and 2004 and looks to be the first champion from the Southeastern Conference since Cocky of South Carolina won in 2003. Other past winners include Butch T. Cougar of Washington State (2006), Herbie the Husker from Nebraska (2005) and two-time mascot champion Monte of the University of Montana (2002, 2004).
The fan vote is the sole determinant of the winner. Voting consists of 11 weekly head-to-head match ups between the All-Americans. The mascots with the best win/loss records face off in online playoffs starting in November. The winner will be pronounced Capital One National Mascot of the Year on Jan. 1, 2008 during the Capital One Bowl.
"Mascots work as hard as anyone on the field, but are lost in the shadows of the flashy all-star quarterbacks and running backs," said Dr. Roy Yarbrough, mascot guru and historian. "This is a great tribute to them, and fans should show their support. Bragging rights are on the line."
This year's crew was chosen from Division IA and IAA athletic programs with college football teams. They made the squad after being ranked on mascot musts such as interaction with fans, originality and pedigree. The panel of judges included mascot guru and historian, Dr. Roy Yarbrough, and representatives from ESPN and Capital One.
Over the past five years, Capital One has helped thrust the spotlight on these unsung heroes of the gridiron. Hairy Dawg will be starring in a national advertising campaign, which this year features the mascots participating in the Capital One Mascot Open, a series of unusual (and fictitious) golf competitions. In addition, Hairy Dawg received $5,000 for its school's mascot program. Mascot of the Year receives an additional $5,000 scholarship to help fund its school's mascot program.
This year's contenders include:
University of Akron - Zippy
Brigham Young University - Cosmo Cougar
University of Georgia - Hairy Dawg
University of Minnesota - Goldy Gopher
University of Montana - Monte
University of South Carolina - Cocky
Univ. of Southern Mississippi - Seymour
Syracuse University - Otto
UCLA - Joe Bruin
University of Virginia - Cavman
Virginia Tech - HokieBird
Western Kentucky University - Big Red