AUSTIN, Texas - The Longhorns made their first charge at the Bulldogs before Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl game even started. About an hour before kickoff, Bevo, UT Longhorns mascot, broke out of his barricade and, rushed in the direction of University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot, Uga.
Bevo and Uga, dressed in their usual uniforms, were ready for a picture perfect introduction.
“In theory it sounds like a good idea, to have both live mascots meet each other, but apparently it didn't work out as well as they hoped,” said Austin American Statesman photojournalist Nick Wagner who was at the photo opportunity.
Wagner started snapping pictures as soon as the Georgia bulldog, donning his red team jersey, strutted into Longhorn territory, but only for about 10 seconds. “Then I saw people, out of the corner of my eye, starting to run, and I heard some commotion in the background, and I look back and Bevo's horns are coming right at me. So I was like, ‘Yup, it's time for me to go,’” Wagner said.
The 1700-pound steer came charging through his barricade toward 50-pound Uga and into a group of photographers. “He just wanted to do a little early visitation with our opponent for the evening,” one of Bevo’s handlers told FOX 5 Atlanta.
“The handlers for Bevo were trying to turn him around and he didn't want to turn around. Next thing I know, I hear a little bit of noise and he hears noise, so we ran. And, it's my understanding, a few people got hurt,” Uga’s handler said.
“He got me. He managed to get me. I don't know what exactly he got me with in the back, but he got me with his right horn on my right cheek. So he kind of clocked me pretty good,” said Wagner.
Texas Athletics Spokesman John Bianco released a statement about the incident that reads, "All of the established safety measures for Bevo at home and away football games were in place at the Sugar Bowl last night. The handlers that are with him at all times are well-educated, trained and did their job."
“The handlers did a good job reigning him in, and settling him down, and grabbing that horn, and making sure he didn't do any more havoc than what he already did,” Wagner said.
As for Wagner, he said he is recovering just fine, but will be a little more cautious around Bevo moving forward. “Just keeping my head on a swivel and respecting that big boy a little bit more, because he's only going to keep on getting bigger,” said Wagner.
While there has been some speculation about Bevo charging toward Uga because of the bulldog’s red jersey, that's not likely, as steers are actually colorblind. Whatever the case, the commotion seemed to be a bit of foreshadowing as the Longhorns overpowered the Bulldogs to win the bowl game.