Man Inside "Rufus" Costume
Told Pals To Watch Out For Gag
One Great Season
Ohio University mascot Brandon Hanning is now known as the former Ohio University mascot after a pre-game stunt during which he tackled Ohio State's beloved Brutus twice when the Buckeyes took the field before thrashing the Bobcats in Columbus Saturday.
Hanning's had a pretty busy Monday: first, he read on ESPN.com that he'd lost the gig, then spent some time on the phone with OGS answering questions about his last day on the job as Rufus. If only there could be a way to work Sara Saco or Ines Sainz into this story, then perhaps he'd get an invite to New York to do the morning-show circuit.
Anyway, here's what the friendly 19-year-old kid had to say today:
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OGS: Why did you do it?
Hanning: It was honestly the whole reason I tried out to be the mascot. I tried out last year because I knew the football team was playing at Ohio State this year.
OGS: But why tackle Brutus?
Hanning: I don't really know. I thought it would be pretty cool to tackle him in the middle of the field and see what happens.
OGS: What was your plan?
Hanning: I was just sitting there waiting to put the costume on about 15 minutes before the game, and then I went down to where the OU cheerleaders were getting ready to run out onto the field. And once I got down there, I saw Brutus. I wanted him to be in the middle of the field, but I didn't know if or when he was going to be there. I just went with it.
OGS: Did you tell some friends what your plan was ahead of time?
Hanning: Oh yeah. When I saw the tryout announcement online last year, I told them right then and there that I was going to do it. They all thought it would be awesome.
A few of them were at the game, but they didn't get it on camera. They were planning to but they didn't know when I was going to do it.
We got up there the day before the game and that's when I told the cheerleaders. They all laughed and thought it was going to be funny and wanted to know exactly when I was going to do it.
OGS: Were you nervous in the moments leading up to it?
Hanning: Oh yeah. I was pretty nervous the whole time trying to figure out when I was going to do it.
OGS: And after the first confrontation, when you started to run back down the field to chase Brutus, you kind of found yourself right in the middle of all the OSU players rushing onto the field. Any fear that you'd get knocked over in that whole mess?
Hanning: Yeah, I was a little worried that the team might stick up for Brutus and jump me. I wasn't planning on getting him twice. But my head came off so I had to get it back on.
OGS: Your head came off?
Hanning: Yeah, the head part of the costume was starting to come off, so I got off Brutus for a second to put it back on, then ran down the field and got him again.
OGS: So what happened immediately afterward? Did you get to finish the game?
Hanning: I walked off the field and I had to stand with security and they just told me to wait there for a few minutes as the Color Guard was getting ready to take the field. They told me if I touched Brutus again I was going to get kicked out.
OGS: So when did you find out you'd be relieved of your duties as Rufus?
Hanning: They never even told me. They still haven't told me. I read the apology from OU on ESPN.com, and that's how I learned I was banned from any OU athletic affiliation.
I don't even go to school there. I did last year. I dropped out and I don't think they knew that. But they asked me to be the mascot again this year and I told them yeah.
OGS: So now you face the very real possibility of being blackballed by the mascot community. What's next for you?
Hanning: Right now I'm enrolled at Hocking University. I might be a deckhand on barges. I live in Meigs County, right along the Ohio River.
OGS: Did you make any kind of apology to Brutus?
Hanning: He wasn't too happy about it. Whenever they scored, he'd run over and throw his hands up at me and then run away.
I'm not going to apologize, but he did just add me on Facebook today.
OGS: What would you tell skeptics who think it may have been staged?
Hanning: It definitely was not staged. Brutus had no idea it was coming. And he was pretty upset about it.
OGS: Do you think this will help you get more girls in Athens?
Hanning: Oh yeah. I hope so.