DENVER — The Rocky Mountain Showdown will once again take over Broncos Stadium at Mile High for the kickoff of big time college football in Colorado. The CU and CSU football teams will battle for bragging rights on the field, and bring with them their beloved live animal mascots.
So the question is: Ralphie the Buffalo or Cam the Ram?
Denver7 met with the handlers of both teams to talk about what they do, the animals they care for, and the big question of which is better.
When Ralphie makes her weekly dash across the field at Colorado home games, the men and women flanking her are known as the Ralphie Handlers.
“Our job is to the care of, train, and run with our great mascot Ralphie the Buffalo,” senior team member Ryan Bennett said.
And doing so with the 1,200-pound buffalo is quite the job.
“We weight train and condition twice a week and run with the buffalo to practice twice a week,” Bennett said.
The Ralphie handlers are varsity athletes, spending up to 30 hours per week practicing, training, and doing other game-day activities, which include the 30-second run across the field.
“The running of Ralphie is the best tradition in college sports,” senior team member Trevor DeBaere said.
“The most adrenaline you will ever feel in your life. It’s kind of 0-100 really fast,” Bennett said.
A few miles north, in Fort Collins, a different set of volunteers is getting their animal mascot ready for the big game.
“Cam is a rambouillet ram. He is the 25th generation,” Ram Handler captain Frank Brennan said.
The team is made up of 18 volunteers, who take care of the animal and take him to the variety of events he attends every year.
“Pep rallies, alumni events, student and staff appreciation days, things like that. And usually all around the state, too,” Brennan added.
One of those events is the “Grill the Buffs” barbecue held every year on campus, when students get the chance to meet and take a picture with Cam.
A "friendly" animal rivalry
Before the mascots and their teams took to the field, they had no shortage of things to say about each other (when asked).
“Comparing the two I’d just say our buffalo runs across the field and we hit 20 mph and I think they trot in the end zone,” Bennet, of the Ralphie Handlers said.
“I think the cool thing about Cam is he’s interactive and fun and gets to know people. A buffalo sits in a field and doesn’t get to know people,” Allie Kounter of the Ram Handlers countered.
And if you aren’t a fan of a buffalo or a ram, Air Force and their falcon takes on CU in September and CSU in November for animal mascot supremacy in the state of Colorado.