Turns out, the Bobcat had it in for the Buckeye all along.
“It was actually my whole plan to tackle Brutus when I tried out to be mascot,” said Brandon Hanning, formerly known as Ohio University’s Rufus Bobcat. “I tried out about a year ago, and the whole reason I tried out was so I could come up here to Ohio State and tackle Brutus.”
And that’s what he did Saturday, wrestling unsuspecting Brutus to the ground before 105,075 fans at Ohio Stadium . Ohio State got even in the end, trampling the visiting Bobcats, 43-7.
The tussle led to an apology from Ohio University on Monday and the 19-year-old Hanning is banned from further affiliation with the athletic department. Actually, he’s not even a student there anymore; he now attends nearby Hocking College.
The Bobcat sideswiped the Buckeye, who got back to his feet and continued his sprint toward the end zone.
“As soon as they started running onto the field, that’s when I went,” Hanning said.
But Rufus, um, Hanning, then chased Brutus into the end zone, climbed on his back and rode him to the ground. The two then tussled, with Rufus punching the Buckeye in his oversized head while fans booed.
Quipped Bobcats coach Frank Solich, “Obviously we needed to tackle the guy with the ball, not the mascot.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said star defensive end Aldon Smith will miss the game Saturday against Miami of Ohio due to a broken bone in his leg. Pinkel said he was hopeful of having Smith back in the lineup for the Big 12 opener at home against Colorado on Oct. 9. ... Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said injured quarterback Jordan Wynn should begin throwing in practice again this week. ... Defensive lineman Anthony La Lota has transferred from Michigan to Rutgers and will be eligible to play for the Scarlet Knights next season.