MIA, whereabouts unknown

The University’s alternate mascot has been missing in action. The futuristic “Mandrake” has not regaled sports fans since a men’s basketball game last season, and some wonder whether he’ll be there to celebrate his first birthday at the Homecoming football game against Stanford on Saturday.

Mandrake was officially “hatched” at last year’s Homecoming game. Unlike the University’s paunchy but tenacious mascot Oregon Duck, Mandrake is buffed up like an athlete on an intensive workout program.

Nike designed the macho-looking mascot, whose style matched the University’s uniforms and logo. Jim Bartko, assistant athletic director for communications and corporate relations, said in a Nov. 5, 2002 interview with the Emerald that the new mascot was designed to appeal to a younger generation and create a buzz around games.

Assistant Athletic Director for Media Services Dave Williford said he doesn’t know if Mandrake will be out on the field at homecoming.

“Any time he appears will be on moment’s notice,” he said, adding that the department doesn’t usually make announcements on when the mascot will be used. He said a group of people in the department usually decide which mascot will be used.

While there was some speculation last year as to whether the new superduck would snuff out the original, University officials stressed that Mandrake was just a secondary mascot.

“It was always intended for occasional appearance,” Williford said.

While the University has to split royalties for Donald Duck with Disney, it owns the Mandrake mascot and therefore benefits fully from all royalties.

Some students feel Mandrake probably won’t spend his first birthday at Autzen on Saturday.

“I thought he was received quite negatively and I think the athletic department knows that, so I’d be surprised if they brought him out,” junior Carson Fields said. “I think everyone identifies with the traditional Oregon Duck.”

Junior Ashley Brodie said she wouldn’t “shed tears” if Mandrake isn’t out rallying the homecoming crowd.

“I think he’s incredibly scary looking, as does half of this campus,” she said. She said people preferred the cute little duck.

“Just because he’s scary doesn’t mean we’ll win,” she said jokingly.

Sophomore Carla Donofrio said she hasn’t seen Mandrake in person, but she has seen pictures and she does agree that he doesn’t seem as approachable as Oregon.

Williford said people can’t always agree on whether something is good or bad.

“Every time you get something new, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a consensus,” he said.

So will Mandrake be at homecoming? Find out Saturday when the Ducks take on Stanford at 12:30 p.m. at Autzen Stadium.

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at ayishayahya@dailyemerald.com.