Happy Birthday, Cocky. The Gamecocks award-winning mascot turned 42 yesterday, though we don’t think he looks a day over 21.
On Oct. 18, 1980, South Carolina’s new mascot took the field as the Gamecock’s took on Cincinnati for the season’s homecoming game. Presented as the son of the then mascot Big Spur, it ended up being Cocky’s only game of the season.
“The telephone rang off the hook for weeks” Linda Singer, UofSC’s athletic director for women’s sports told The Columbia Record at the time. “A lot of people really didn’t like him. He was little on the top and big through the middle and he looked, well, pregnant.”
Carolina fans’ reaction + passion for our mascot sounds a bit familiar, but thankfully Cocky was immune to the boos at his debut and has since become Sports Illustrated’s No. 7 college mascot of all time.
A brief history of the mascot:
- 1971 — Former professor + alumnus John Nelson and his mother created the first homemade costume called “The Rooster.”
- 1980 — Big Spurs son, Cocky, makes his first appearance in Williams-Brice Stadium at the homecoming game against Cincinnati.
- 1984 — Cocky is “kidnapped” after the owner of the costume left it in the back seat of their 1967 Mustang that was stolen in the Rosewood area.
- 1986 — Cocky was chosen as America’s First “National Mascot” by the Universal. Cheerleading Association (UCA), Ford Motor Company, and American Airlines.
- 1986 — Cocky wins his first UCA Mascot Championship.
- 1994 — Cocky wins his second UCA Mascot Championship.
- 2003 — Cocky wins the Capitol One mascot championship.
- 2017 — Measuring 6-foot-5 and weighing 773 pounds, Cocky’s bronze statue is erected outside of Davis College.
- 2021 — Cocky gets a makeover with a “little added fluff.”
Today we celebrate you Cocky; thank you for representing South Carolina as an official Goodwill Ambassador, showing up at weddings, hospitals, and bringing joy to children and fans everywhere.