Monte Suffers a Loss in the 2013 Mascot Challenge

About an hour ago Monte was dealt his first loss in the 2013 Mascot Challenge in a down to the minute race with Sparty the Spartan from Michigan State. The close 51% to 49% defeat not only gave him a mark in the loss column but it knocked him out of first place and stripped him of his #1 ranking. Definitely a less than ideal way to end a weekend in which our football team crushed Portland State in the much anticipated Homecoming game.

Once the standings refresh on the Capital One website, Monte should sit in either third or fourth place depending on the tiebreaker method used in the competition. Two mascots hold unblemished 5-0 records while four mascots (including Monte) hold 4-1 records. Two of the mascots with 4-1 records suffered their lone loss in the competition to Monte.

During the last hour of this week’s round, I watched a noble and frantic effort by Griz Nation to push Monte to yet another victory over another giant in the BCS landscape. In the end, it fell just a little short. My Twitter and Facebook feeds were overloaded with people answering this past week’s question of “If Monte started a band, what would he name it?” Besides my actual Facebook friends and Twitter followers aggressively pushing for a Monte victory, everyone else in Montana seemed to be doing the same. Just searching the #CapitalOneMonte hash tag on Twitter yielded hundreds and hundreds of tweets coming in by the second! I got a good laugh at reading everyone’s take on what Monte’s band should be named.

If I was in Monte's band I would play the recorder!

If I was in Monte’s band I would play the recorder!

Of course anyone could see that the tweets marked with the #CapitalOneMonte hash tag vastly outnumbered the #CapitalOneSparty hash tags. Because of this, some might speculate that the final tally was not reflected correctly. However, standard voting is also a big part of the equation and the fact of the matter is that Michigan State has 50,000 students at its school while almost 10 million people live in the state. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with a population size that large comes with it a distinct advantage. If a majority of those people are voting, it doesn’t matter how many tweets we are sending out… those sheer numbers will win every time.

But notice how I said if. We have absolutely no idea how many people are voting. The organizers of the competition elect to only give us percentages as opposed to concrete point totals. As I have said from the beginning, I have a tough time trusting internet voting formats. I have an even tougher time trusting internet voting formats where we can’t see the raw numbers. Judging by the comments on our social media outlets, many people have the same trust issues as me.

But in all honesty I have little to complain about. This competition has already given us great exposure, a nice check for our program, and a special experience for our Monte performer (he got to travel to New York City for photo/video shoots). Although I am not 100% convinced that we got a completely fair shake in this past round of the competition, I do realize that in the four prior rounds it is possible that we could have gotten the benefit of the doubt.

Life moves on in the 2013 Mascot Challenge and this week Monte is up against Baldwin the Eagle from Boston College. Just like during any other season in any other sport, you have to move on from defeat and come back with more tenacity and more hunger for the next opponent. I promise you that Monte and Griz Nation will come back stronger than ever. That Eagle better watch out. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top Five For Monday

Good evening, readers! Thanks again for taking the time to check out Don’t Blink. I hope you all had great weekends and that Monday was not too rough on you. Well it is another one of those nights where I rather just touch on several different subjects instead of writing a long post on just one. So get ready, I am going to whip through five totally unrelated topics.

Monte Improves to 2-0: You bet I will be using my blog to fill you in on how Monte is doing in the 2013 Mascot Challenge throughout the three plus month competition…well, at least as long as he is still winning (kidding of course). This past week Monte soundly defeated Bucky the Badger from Wisconsin. I definitely thought the final tally would be closer but Monte won the vote 63% to 37%. Unfortunately, we might find ourselves on the other side of that outcome this week. Our bear is against Big Red from Western Kentucky and right now Monte trails 60% to 40%. But the week is young and I know Griz Nation will rally. Vote for Monte here and make sure to complete challenges by using the #CapitalOneMonte hash tag.

Weather Still Nice But Days Getting Shorter: It is mid-September and fortunately we are still getting some warm days in Missoula. I hope they stick around as long as possible. Some people wish for more “Fall-like” weather but no thank you! That just means the start of eight long months of cold, snow, and wind. However, the nice weather can’t hide the fact that the days are getting shorter. Today I woke up while it was still dark out, drove to work while the sun was rising, and left work with it already dark. I really don’t want to say goodbye to the warm weather and the long days.

Big Week At Work: What a week I got going at work! This first half of the week I am working long hours to prep myself for the events we have at the latter half. Thursday night we have our major basketball fundraiser, Friday night we have soccer and volleyball, Saturday afternoon we have football, and Saturday evening we have another volleyball match. With more on my plate than ever before it is going to be a very exhausting several days but after it is all said and done I will get that redeeming feeling of accomplishment. I love my job and I love doing my best for Griz Nation…can’t ask for much more than that.

Shakeup in the Booth: I watched all of the Sunday Night Football game yesterday and I watched the second half of tonight’s Monday Night Football game and it convinced even more of an idea I have had for the last few years. Can we please merge/cut NBC’s SNF announcing crew with ESPN’s MNF crew? From NBC we will save Al Michaels and give Cris Collinsworth the ax and then from ESPN we will let Mike Tirico go and keep Jon Gruden. Al Michaels does a fabulous job calling any sport under the sun and no analyst compares to the knowledge and character that Gruden brings to the booth. The Michaels-Gruden team would call both evening NFL games on Sunday and Monday and we could send Tirico and Collinsworth to Canada to call CFL games or something.

Amazing Sunrises/Sunsets Across the Country: Is it just me or did the whole nation experience beautiful skies this morning and this evening? Driving to work today I definitely got the joy of driving into a sky filled with amazing colors and judging by my Instagram feed so did seemingly everyone else both in Montana and in every other corner of the nation. Getting to admire the beauty of the sky this morning made me feel better starting off the long week and I hope it brought similar joy to others whether it was at the start or end of the day.


Have a great week everyone! Hope to talk to you a couple more times this week but can’t make any promises. Thanks again for taking time to read what I have to say, I appreciate it. Don’t Blink.

A Special Mascot: Support Monte for National Mascot of the Year

I feel fortunate to have a job that I love so much that I constantly feel the need to write about it. I apologize if I have gone Grizzly Athletics overload on you the past few posts but I can’t help it. But let me preface by saying that tonight’s topic is pretty cool!

Once again, Monte, our mascot at the University of Montana, has made the 2013 Capital One Mascot Challenge team. Each year a number of mascots are chosen from across the country to engage in a contest to see which furry creature will come out on top and become the National Mascot of the Year. In the past the winning mascot has been chosen through a voting system. This year a version of the voting system is still in place but there is an added twist to the mix. More on that later.

Monte and I at the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

Monte and I at the NCAA Tournament in 2012.

It is truly a big compliment that Monte continues to get chosen to the Mascot Challenge team (he has made it in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013). Pretty much all the other mascots on the team hail from large, BCS schools. The fact that a mascot from a smaller school in the FCS can continue to crack the team speaks to the talent, creativeness, and marketability of Monte. Each year we submit an application to Capital One. The required materials call for a highlight video, a couple high resolution photos of the mascot, and a completed paperwork form. You can then add any supporting documents that you see fit to improve your mascot’s chances of getting selected. We always see to it that we go above and beyond when creating our application.

When we got word that we made this year’s team we were ecstatic. Besides the great publicity and notoriety that we knew we were going to get from making the team, it also came with a $5,000 prize that went straight to our Mascot program. The payoff for taking the time to create a superb application packet is immense.

Monte and I close up style.

Monte and I close up style.

The senior of the two Monte performers who I oversee traveled to New York City in June to shoot the commercials and other promo materials that make up the Mascot Challenge. This student got the luxury of an all-expenses paid trip to the biggest and best known city in the nation to hang out with fifteen other mascots, stay in a nice hotel, and do some filming. Not a bad perk of the job. When he returned from the Big Apple he told me that he really tried to make Monte standout from the other mascots during all the shooting.

Monte and I goofing off.

Monte and I goofing off.

From the time of us submitting the application to hearing the good news to sending our mascot to New York it seemed like a lot of time had passed. So last week when the competition finally went live I think we were all ready to finally start the long campaign. But before we really started to ask people for their support for Monte, we needed to make really clear how they could support Monte. You see, things this year had changed.

In a quest to create more engagement and to take advantage of the ever increasing landscape of social media, Capital One introduced a three level point system. While you can still go with the old-fashioned way of simply voting for Monte there are other options that can boost his status in whatever head-to-head competition he is engaged in that week. While voting will only get you 1 point, you can complete “challenges” that will award Monte more points. Each week the contest organizers will present a question or task. If you answer or complete the task and use the appropriate hash tag of #CapitalOneMonte on Facebook or Twitter you get 25 points. However, if you want to put a little more effort into your support you can take the 25 point challenge a step up send 100 points Monte’s way.

Monte and I at the UCA championships this year.

Monte and I at the UCA championships this year.

Take for example this week. The 25 point challenge is to write a cheer for Monte. However, if you perform it in public and video it and then submit to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with the appropriate hash tag you add 100 points to Monte’s schedule. I have no idea what the other challenges will entail but they should be fun for fans to complete.

Here is the cool thing about Monte in this competition: Each time he participates in it he does well. Even though out of all the other mascots he is from the smallest state in the smallest city at the smallest school (population wise), he always manages to make a great run deep into the competition. Because of the strong passion Griz Nation has coupled with the strong social media presence of Grizzly Athletics, Monte has a chance to win a competition that he really should have no business doing so. It is a beautiful thing and a pretty cool tribute to one of the best fan bases around.

I ask that you please go here and complete the challenges for Monte and then vote 100 times for him. Remember to use the #CapitalOneMonte hash tag. This week we are up against CAM THE RAM from Colorado State University and we need your support. Yes, we do have a good lead on him right now but with any competition that hinges on social media things can change drastically and quickly. Hope you had a great Labor Day weekend and please support Monte for National Mascot of the Year.