New Bully mascot debuts on Saturday

"Champ" appeared on the set of ESPN's College GameDay along with former MSU pitcher Jonathan Papelbon last football season. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“Champ” appeared on the set of ESPN’s College GameDay along with former MSU pitcher Jonathan Papelbon last football season. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Mississippi State football faithful have the rare chance to celebrate the passing of the harness as Bully XXI accepts mascot duties from his father at Super Bulldog Weekend 2015.

Around 30 minutes before the Maroon and White Spring Football Game kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday,Bully XX—fondly called “Champ”—will step onto the Scott Field at Davis Wade Stadium for the last time with his son, known as “Jak.”

The bulldogs will take the field together, said official MSU Mascot handler Lisa Pritchard.

“We’ll do the exchanging of the harnesses, and after I transfer the harness from Champ to Jak, Champ will go into official full retirement,” Pritchard said. “There will be no more appearances for Champ.”

His retirement will be a chance for Champ to live the “easy life,” Pritchard said. He will get to stay in the same home he’s lived in during the past decade—with Pritchard—and sit in the recliner to watch ESPN, she said.

She explained that since the university first bought a mascot in 2001, Champ’s father TaTonka Gold, MSU has selected the “pick of the litter” of the mascot-sired puppies to become the next mascot.

Jak’s formal name is “Cristil’s Golden Prince,” and the American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog was born in October 2014, soon after Jack Cristil died, Pritchard said. Naming the newest Bully for the legendary Voice of the Bulldogs who called football and basketball games for 58 years was a fitting choice.

“‘TaTonka’ is the Indian word for ‘buffalo,’ and ‘gold’ was from Tonka’s mother’s name,” Pritchard said. “Then, Champ’s name is ‘TaTonka’s Golden Sun,’ which honors Tonka’s lines, and Jak was born not long after we lost Mr. Jack Cristil. The ‘golden’ recognizes Tonka, while ‘Prince’ is from Jak’s mother’s name.”

Jak is only six-months-old, while Champ will turn 10 in September. When mascot handlers realized Bully was getting toward retiring age, though he’s still in good health, a female bulldog was selected based on her pedigree and history. Then, the litter of mascot-sired puppies were evaluated.

“Jak is mostly a red fawn pup; he has more red fawn than his father Champ,” Pritchard said. “He’s learning to sit and stay, and he’s also training for noise and crowds and being around people and children.”

Jak’s responsibilities will be similar to those of previous mascots, she said.

“He’ll do the same things Champ did and Tonka before him—going to all the football games, going to baseball and softball until it gets really warm, visiting elementary schools and going to nursing homes,” she continued. “It’s a busy life.”

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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