Cocky got a slow start but he’s come on strong since.
South Carolina’s now famous Gamecock mascot was unveiled during halftime of a game against Cincinnati on Oct. 18, 1980, but his first appearance did not go smoothly.
“We built this chicken roost that was supposed to be wheeled out from underneath the stands as the band was playing at halftime, and Cocky was going to pop out of the roost,” said John Routh, one of two students who first filled the Cocky costume. “Well, we built the chicken roost a little too tall and couldn’t get it out from underneath the stadium.
“So when the P.A. announcer goes, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, your new mascot Cocky!’ there was nothing.”
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Cocky finally emerged for the fans to see, and it was quite a shock for some, who had grown accustomed to the 7-foot tall menacing barnyard rooster named Big Spur who previously had served as the mascot.
But Cocky’s kid-friendly look has grown on South Carolina fans and fans across the country. He was named the winner of the Capital One Mascot Challenge in 2003, and college football commentators frequently refer to the Gamecocks simply as “Cocky.”
“Very few mascots get that kind of recognition as the face of the university,” Routh said.