Live mascots are a top tradition in college football, with one of the best being in Columbia.
The Gamecocks have long had an animal on their sideline, dating back to 2006 on the football field and even 1999 on the baseball diamond. However, there is some controversy over the program’s next live bird.
To begin with, there has been some dispute over the bird’s name. Traditionally known as Sir Big Spur, the trademark contract for the name expired on Aug. 1 and there seems to be no pressure to bring it back.
Additionally, the way the bird looks has come into question as well. What is called the comb over, there is a red “crest” on top of the bird’s head and under its beak. According to The Post and Courier, it’s used as an “air conditioner” and cools the rooster down.
“They’re each part of the birds’ heat regulation systems because, in an outstanding piece of trivia, chickens cannot sweat,” the report said. “The comb and wattle act as a sort of ‘air conditioner’ in the birds’ circulatory system — hence the red — and the cooler blood then passes back through the rest of the bird’s body.”
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The old owners have long clipped those off, to make it look like a traditional Gamecock. It’s a look Sir Big Spur has had since its inception back in the 1990s. However, the new owner of the rooster, named the Clarks, are wanting to keep the comb over on the bird, breaking what has been a tradition for over 20 years.
There have been so many questions surrounding the new look, Executive Associate Athletics Director and South Carolina‘s Chief Marketing Officer Eric Nichols had to comment. He said both sides are passionate about how the rooster looks but the school is “stuck.”
“Ron and Mary are clearly passionate that it needs to look like a fighting Gamecock. Beth and Van disagree,” said Nichols via The Post and Courier. “USC needs a bird so if Ron and Mary aren’t going to do it and aren’t going to transfer a name, then we’re kind of stuck, unless we change that name.”
Time is running out on how to handle South Carolina’s new mascot. The football team will begin their season on Sept. 3 against Georgia State. What the rooster will be named has not yet been determined but the Clarks seem set on what to do with the bird’s comb over.