The Story Behind Rocky the Bull

March 19, 2009
Dani Antonucci

by Patricia Abdou, USF Oracle, August 28, 1989

When the issue of a school mascot was first raised in 1961, "Rocky" the Bull was far from first choice.

The process of choosing a mascot was apparently not a smooth one. University of South Florida Chickens, Roosters and Camels were all included for serious consideration. Even the Desert Rats, named after a group of men who played intramural sports and were the forerunners of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, was contemplated, but proved to be another failed attempt.

Gerald Stack and Jack Boyd, members of USF's charter class, planted the seed for what later became the school mascot, the Brahman Bull.

Stack said the issue first developed during committee meetings to construct the school's constitution. It was at this time that he and Boyd brought up the idea of the bull.

Boyd said it was a natural thing for them to choose the Brahman bull because both of their partners were breeders of the animal.

Although the name was put forth, it was never officially used. Stack left USF after only one semester and the idea was either lost in the shuffle or just temporarily forgotten.

The idea re-emerged in the fall of '62 when a representative from the class ring company announced that one side of the class rings would be left blank for the school mascot. Rejecting the representative's idea of a sailfish, the University Center sponsored a contest to name the school mascot.

Robert Bickle, another member of the charter class and presently a law professor at Stetson, submitted the Golden Brahman as his choice of mascot.
In the election, five finalists were selected: the Buccaneer, the Golden Brahman, the Olympian, the Cougar, and the Golden Eagle.

The Buccaneer, which received the most votes, was originally not adopted because it was believed that a junior college in Pensacola had the same mascot. The Golden Brahman, which had lost to the Buccaneer by only three votes, was chosen instead.

After it was learned that the junior college mascot was in fact the Pirate and not the Buccaneer, a 12-member judiciary committee decided that the Buccaneer would serve as the USF mascot.

With the decision came controversy. Many students were unhappy about the lackadaisical way in which the contest was run, while others thought that both choices were unfit to be the official mascot.

A petition was formulated and collected more signatures than the actual number of votes in the original election. A run-off election was granted between the Buccaneer and the Golden Brahman. The Golden Brahman was victorious and was officially unveiled Nov. 17, 1962.

Bickle takes no credit for coming up with the name, saying the suggestion was made one evening during a discussion of the issue and that he was just "elected to represent a group of friends" who collectively came up with the idea.

The rationale for the idea, he explained, was that since Florida was a cattle-raising state, like Texas, they wanted something comparable to the Texas Longhorns.
Once all conflict was cleared up, the Golden Brahman successfully remained the mascot until the early '80s.

"The athletic department decided to change the mascot to the Bulls around 1982 for promotional reasons, to advertise basketball games and homecoming events," said Marshall.

Today "Rocky" the Bull still serves as the official mascot and still carries the spirit of USF.

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