Williams is one of the most successful colleges in Div. III athletics, but how would Williams hold up against Div. I schools in the land of 90,000 seat stadiums, multi-million dollar television contracts and full-time mascots? Jim Dunn ’10 set off to find out how the College would stack up, representing the Ephs in an ESPN College GameDay commercial featuring mascots from schools around the country.
Donning the Purple Cow costume, Dunn ventured to California after ESPN asked if the College wanted to send its mascot to film a College GameDay promo alongside such prestigious mascots as the Oregon Duck, the Texas Tech Masked Rider and of course, the Florida Gator. Why did the Purple Cow garner such consideration from the ESPN bigwigs? It appears that the Purple Cow left quite an impression on ESPN analyst Lee Corso after his 2007 trip to Williamstown, when GameDay was live for the Williams vs. Amherst football game.
“I felt like during the whole experience the mascots were waiting to figure out that I wasn’t supposed to be there,” Dunn said. “They were so serious about everything. They had $4000 outfits and huge boxes, but the Purple Cow wasn’t anything like that.” According to Dunn, the Purple Cow was shipped in what he describes as a “shoe box” while all the other mascots had refrigerator-size containers for their prized costumes.
At some of the big Div. I schools, mascots tryouts are almost as rigorous as tryouts for the teams themselves. It is understandable that the mascots take their jobs seriously because of the decades of tradition.
“Without the suit on, everyone was really normal,” Dunn said, laughing when asked about the mascot dynamic. “But as soon as they put on the costume they turned into different people and acted like they were in front of 100,000 people. They stole a golf cart, helped a guy change his tire in the parking lot and did a bunch of crazy stuff. I don’t think I will ever forget seeing a golf cart full of mascots careening around a college campus.”
Another perk that Dunn enjoyed was getting to meet the on-air talent. They were interested in the Purple Cow, which stands out if only because of how small and unassuming its costume is, and grilled Dunn on his mascot experiences. Much to the surprise of the GameDay crew and his fellow mascots, they learned that this was the first time that Dunn had donned the Purple Cow suit. After the shock wore off, the crew excitedly reminisced about its 2007 trip to Williamstown.
“That was probably the craziest part,” Dunn said. “Hearing them recall their time at Williams was pretty incredible. I thought I was done interacting with ESPN in 2007 but working with them again in 2010 and realizing what an impact their trip to the Berkshires had on them was fantastic.”
The Purple Cow has never been a major physical presence on campus. The Cow is rarely seen beyond First Days and home football games, such as when the Ephs bulldozed the Lord Jeffs 20-0 in 2007.“I think that the Purple Cow should have a much heavier presence on campus, so hopefully someone will wear the costume more regularly,” Dunn said. “Go wild, steal a golf cart, do something. I mean, you can’t arrest a Purple Cow.”
Dunn may not have had the most expensive suit, but he held his own and proved that Williams was indeed worthy of standing alongside Div. I powerhouses. The commercial featuring the Purple Cow will air tonight on ESPN during the College GameDay special.