Mike Bays: Never One to Chicken Out

When people discover that I was the Tiger mascot at Clemson University, the first question asked has the most obvious response.

“Yes, it is hot in the suit.”

I was truly fortunate to have the most unique college experience, including three years as Clemson’s “Good Will Ambassador”. Most people don’t realize that despite the heated rivalry between Clemson and the University of South Carolina, both mascots do many outside appearances together and become friends. You begin to understand the love the other person has for their school, and you respect the fact that they are giving their blood, sweat, and tears – well, at least sweat – every time they put on that costume.

It is proper mascot etiquette to meet the rival mascot before the game and show them where they can change into their suit and keep their belongings. In 1995, as Clemson arrived in Columbia, I was greeted by my good friend, who escorted me to an air conditioned coach’s office. I suited up and performed in front of a crowd of 75,000 as the Tigers took care of the Gamecocks (38-17 if you’re keeping score). I stayed in my Tiger suit to celebrate on the field with the team after the game.

As I headed back to the nice air conditioned office to change out of my mascot suit, I realized I had to pass a press conference where the media was interviewing the losing USC coach. As I walked by in near exhaustion, still in my full Tiger suit, I felt some hostility as some of the coaches and media yelled for me to get out of the press conference. I was only trying to get my bags and leave the stadium!

Can you imagine the humility of having lost to your rival and then having the opposing mascot show up at your press conference? I did make it out of the stadium in one piece, but I was tempted to run up to the USC coach and see if he would give me a high five….

One Comment

  1. Chuck
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Great post! As a life-long Clemson fan, I applaud you for your years of service as the Tiger mascot. The Clemson vs. South Carolina rivalry may not be one of national significance, but there are very few others injected with as much passion as can be found between these two institutions. Go Tigers!

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