Ohio State University was founded in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, and eight years later, the college name changed to its present-day moniker. The athletic teams here are known as the Buckeyes – a term that predates the university itself and has been a term of reference for all Ohio residents.
Let’s take a closer look at Ohio State University’s mascot – Brutus Buckeye – and find out how he’s changed from a paper mache embodiment of a buckeye nut with legs (and not much else) to the dashing Brutus that fans, students, and alumni know and love today.
How Brutus Buckeye Came to Be
Brutus Buckeye is an awesome buckeye nut head on a pretty normal human body, but you have to wonder – why the buckeye nut? It turns out, buckeyes are pretty Ohioan, and so it was a natural selection for the university’s sports teams.
The buckeye tree is native to Ohio (especially in the Ohio River Valley), and its dark brown nut features lighter tan patches. These nuts are inedible, but folk tales say that carrying one brings the bearer good luck (and even wards off pain). The buckeye tree is a hardy plant, and before Ohio was granted statehood (in the 18th century), Colonel Ebenezer Sproat became known as “Buckeye” for his great spirit and strong stature. Over time, the use of this term spread to other white settlers and locals, and the presidential election of 1840 cemented the term into national lexicon when William Henry Harrison embraced it during his campaign.
Brutus is an active mascot, appearing at over 500 events each year (both sports and non-sports), and enjoys sweet moves such as head banging, headstands, playing the drums, and fake singing. He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2007 and was the 2015 UCA Mascot National champion.
Ohio State students Ray Bourhis and Sally Huber are credited for the buckeye mascot suggestion in 1965, and his appearance has varied wildly over the years. The one constant, however, is the buckeye nut – dark brown, lighter brown patches, and a face. Let’s take a look at how Brutus has changed over the years.
Brutus Buckeye: From Paper Mache to Sweet Threads
Brutus Buckeye is, overall, a nut from the buckeye tree. Over the years, his getup has changed drastically. The original Brutus, in 1965, was a rounded paper-mache suit – a buckeye nut with some minor features, such as eyes, a mouth, and fluffy white eyebrows.
Unfortunately, the original Brutus – while a hit with fans – was a bomb in the design department because of its weight and size. Instead of paper mache, the next Brutus was made from fiberglass and made its debut at the Ohio State vs. Iowa game.
Soon, more customization was demanded, and in 1968, the adjustable “smile” was born, so if the team was struggling, Brutus could change his smile to a frown.
The next Brutus, in 1975, was decidedly unpopular. Instead of a full-body nut, Brutus now was a small head on a person’s body, and his squinting eye and sneer just didn’t do it for the fans, students, or alumni.
The following year, in 1976, the beloved fiberglass body reappeared, now with big fluffy eyebrows.
In 1977, a new version made its debut. This Brutus was still a full-body nut but was a bit smaller than the cherished fiberglass body. The problem? It was super heavy – 60 pounds heavier than its precursor, which led to its eventual abandonment. A new feature, however, was added and remains today – a ball cap with an “O.”
In the ’80s, the university moved to a smaller head again, but instead of the leering version of 1975, this new head retained the shape of the older, round body and had friendly features. His face was centered on a lighter brown circle, while the rest of his head was a darker brown. Paired with regular athletic uniforms (with the hat remaining in place), this version was well-received by fans.
The new Brutus underwent a uniform change in 1982 when he donned a scarlet and gray striped shirt with his name on the front and “00” on the back. This top, paired with scarlet pants, remains his outfit of choice today.
In 2001, Brutus’ head underwent some touching up as fans noted he looked pretty tired. Today, he looks just as refreshed as he did back then, with big, bright eyes, a button nose, and a wide smile.
For Brutus Fans Only
If you’re planning on heading out to a game at Ohio State University, or trying to represent from your hometown, why not check out Fanatics to get some sweet Buckeyes merchandise?