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Ohio State Graduate Remembers Naming Mascot Brutus Buckeye Who Turns 50

Ohio State University
Brutus Buckeye celebrates 50 years as Ohio State's mascot.

College mascots get a lot of attention these days for their schools and sports fans.  Ohio State's Brutus Buckeye turns 50 years old this year. Brutus actually got his name from a student who won an on-campus naming contest.

Brutus Buckeye, and the 50 years he's been around, will be celebrated at the November 7 home football game, against Minnesota.

WOSU's Debbie Holmes talked with the student who named Brutus, Kerry Reed, about why he chose the name Brutus, and the impact it's had on the last 50 years.

The below transcript is an automated transcript of the conversation, please excuse any and all minor errors or typos.

Debbie Holmes: So tell me, you came up with the name, why Brutus?

Kerry Reed: Well I had actually gone to the Thompson Library and checked out some books on names when I read about the campus-wide effort to submit names, and I liked alliteration and I thought it needed to be something that would carry a certain amount of heft and weight and maybe intimidation. And when I came across Brutus that seemed like an appropriate one.

I also submitted a couple of other names one of which I don't remember, the third one was Bucky, but I didn't know at the time that Bucky was the name of the Wisconsin Badger mascot. But Brutus was the one selected.

DH: Let's go over the transformation of Brutus. Do you remember the early versions of Brutus?

KR: I do, the sphere that was his head was of paper machete and then the there were only three movable parts: The two eyebrows and the mouth. And the person inside could turn a lever and that would take the mouth from frown to a smile and the eyebrows could be adjusted to look somewhat surprised or pleased.

DH: And through the years have you been looking at Brutus and how he's changed?

KR: Yes, I have.

DH: So what do you think about the changes through the years?

KR: Well, I think some have been better than others I think the current one is really quite, quite good I think. It's certainly a lot easier to move around in than that original paper-machete sphere, but the good thing was that it was the vision of a few that there needed to be a mascot.

DH: Do you know anything about the first person who was Brutus?

KR: I do not, I don't know how that person was selected I don't know what who made the selection.

DH: Well this is the 50th anniversary of Ohio State having Brutus Buckeye as the mascot, so do you see your contribution as being really significant then through the years?

KR: Well I'm glad to have been a part of it I think that the name has become an important kind of point of reference for people whether they are in the athletic department or just a part of the university community. I'm glad to have had a small part in bringing that into being.

DH: Did you ever think that Brutus would become as popular as he is today?

KR: Well I guess at the beginning there was no way to know how the response would be. The fact that there is one name identified in those all those forms has given us a common thread to hold onto and I think it's it's been helpful, I hope it's been helpful.

DH: Well thanks so much. We've been talking with Kerry Reed who is the Ohio State University graduate who named Brutus Buckeye. Thank you so much Kerry for joining us.

KR: Thank you.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.