History of the USF Bulls Mascot

From the interesting acquisition of his name to his standing within the mascot community, the story of the USF Bulls mascot is one not to be missed.

While recent history has seen them trampled on rather than rampaging through the American Athletic Conference, the USF Bulls mascot ensures that the University of South Florida has a fearsome and ferocious presence throughout college football.

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What Is the USF Bulls Mascot?

A physical specimen of bovine beauty, Rocky the Bull has been the South Florida Bulls’ mascot since 1962. A ferocious-looking, golden-horned, grey-furred, USF-jersey sporting bull, Rocky prowls the sidelines at USF home games and is one of many traditions that gives the program its identity.

Why Rocky? If you’re squeamish, you might want to skip to the next subheading.

Having decided that USF’s identity was best encapsulated by a bull — or brahma, to be precise — it was time to find the new USF mascot a name. Rocky was chosen in reference to Rocky Mountain oysters.

Oysters might seem like a peculiar reference for a mascot that is quite clearly a bull. Well, these oysters have never seen the sea. Considered a delicacy, Rocky Mountain oysters are actually a deep-fried dish made of bull testicles.

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Rocky originally took the form of a toy that was available from the USF bookstore in 1965, with a cartoon drawing of a ferocious-looking bull used as the artwork for the university’s athletics programs.

Over the years, the mascot has taken on many faces. A photograph on the USF website from the 1970 homecoming shows Rocky as an almost Egyptian-esque statue towering over students with particularly elongated horns. The evolution took several forms until the most current Bulls mascot costume was released in 2003.

In many respects, Rocky is more than just the Bulls’ mascot. While incorporating some of the USF traditions into his character — such as the “Go Bulls!” hand symbol — some of the university’s traditions revolve around him. “USF Week” is a week-long celebration of the university that is centered around Rocky’s birthday.

Rocky also holds an elevated standing within the mascot community. South Florida’s mascot won the 2013 Capital One Mascot of the Year Award. In destroying the competition with a perfect record, he became the first-ever mascot to go undefeated.

What Does the ‘D’ Stand for in Rocky D. Bull?

The Bulls mascot’s official title is Rocky D. Bull, leading many to question what the “D” stands for. The middle initial represents the word “dogie,” which translates as a motherless or neglected calf — adding something of a sad backstory to the legend of the USF mascot.

Why Is the USF Mascot a Bull?

USF was established as a public research university in 1956. Not long after opening its doors, it was decided that the sports programs of the university needed an identity — a mascot. Many names were submitted for consideration, including the golden eagle, the buccaneer, the cougar, and the Olympian.

Rather than simply choose a catchy name, however, students wanted something that captured the identity of the program, that spoke to the location of the university, and represented what Florida was known for and famous for.

MORE: List of College Football Mascots

“Students reasoned that, since Florida was a cattle-raising state like Texas,” the USF website explains, “USF needed a mascot comparable to the Texas Longhorns mascot.”

As a result, the program was established as the USF Golden Brahmans — an American breed of beef cattle — in 1962. The program retained the name until the late 1980s when they simply became the Bulls.

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