Camp Randall 100: Bucky Badger

The Camp Randall 100 honors a prestigious group of 100 people who shaped the first century of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin Athletics will reveal a new honoree every day from May 24 until the Badgers’ 2017 opening game on Sept. 1 against Utah State.


Bucky Badger 1955
Bucky Badger 1955

Badgers in various forms have been recognized as the school mascot for decades at the University of Wisconsin. The version currently known as Bucky, sporting a cardinal and white sweater, was first drawn in 1940 by artist Art Evans. At that time, the badger went by names like Benny, Buddy, Bernie, Bobby and Bouncey. Art Lentz, the athletic department’s publicity director, had the idea to bring the mascot to life.

The original badger mascot was too vicious to control. On more than one occasion, the live badger escaped handlers before a sideline hero recaptured the animal with a flying tackle. It was decided in the interest of fan and player safety that Wisconsin’s mascot be retired to the Madison Zoo. The Badger Yearbook replaced the live badger with a small raccoon named Regdab (badger backwards) and passed it off as a “badger in a raccoon coat.”

In 1949, a student in the university’s art department, Connie Conrad, was commissioned to mold a paper-mache badger head. Gymnast and cheerleader Bill Sagal of Plymouth, Wisconsin, was directed by homecoming chair Bill Sachse to wear the outfit at the Homecoming game. A contest was staged to name the popular mascot. The winner was Buckingham U. Badger, or more simply, Bucky. The name apparently came from the lyrics in a song which encouraged the football team to “buck right through that line.”

Bucky Badger has persevered through the years, even surviving a threat by a Wisconsin assistant attorney general, Howard Koop, in 1973. He suggested that Bucky be replaced by Henrietta Holstein, a loveable cow mascot. Koop argued that “kids love cows. A generation could grow up supporting the university and Henrietta Holstein.”

Koop’s effort to overthrow Bucky failed.

Wisconsin Badgers mascot Bucky Badger celebrates a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against the South Florida Bulls Saturday, September 27, 2014, in Madison, Wis. (Photo by David Stluka)
Wisconsin Badgers mascot Bucky Badger celebrates a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against the South Florida Bulls Saturday, September 27, 2014, in Madison, Wis. (Photo by David Stluka)
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