Buckingham U Badger
Badgers in various forms have been recognized as the school mascot for decades. The version currently known as Bucky, sporting a cardinal and white letter 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 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 papier-mâché badger head. Gymnast and cheerleader, Bill Sagal, of Plymouth, Wis., 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 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 then assistant attorney general, Howard Koop, in 1973. He suggested that Bucky be replaced by Henrietta Holstein, a lovable and productive cow. Koop argued that "kids love cows. A generation could grow up supporting the university and Henrietta Holstein." Koop's effort to overthrow Bucky failed. Bucky even survived a cameo appearance by Sports Illustrated writer Rick Telander. In preparation for a book about the athletic department, Telander wore Bucky's costume at a '91 volleyball game. Telander overcame "terminal claustrophobia" in his appearance as Bucky. Greater Bucky Open Founder and President Derek Hildebrandt with Telander in SI article below: