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Athletics: Cayenne leading write-in candidate for 2015 national mascot contest

Staff Report, The Advertiser, September 23, 2014



UL’s mascot, Cayenne, stands on the sidelines as UL plays Texas State in an NCAA football game Saturday at Cajun Field in Lafayette. UL won 48-24. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)



While college football teams are battling on the gridiron, popular school mascots are competing in the Capital One Mascot Challenge. The online poll pits 16 university icons against each other each week throughout the season.

Cayenne, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s spicy "spirit leader," was not included in this year’s challenge. In fact, Cayenne has been missing from the sidelines at games this year because his costumes, which cost about $8,000 apiece, have become faded and worn over time and nobody has been appointed to assume the role of Cayenne.

MORE: Where in the world is Cayenne?

However, in a display of Ragin’ Cajun support, Cayenne is the leading write-in candidate to be added to the 2015 contest, according to Brianna Linden, a contest spokeswoman.

On the contest website, fans are asked to vote for their favorite icon or to write in their mascot if they’d like to see him or her added to next year’s ballot.

Fans can vote — or write in a certain peppery candidate — at CapitalOneMascots.com. Voting opened in August and weekly voting continues through Dec. 7.

The winning school will get a $20,000 scholarship toward its mascot program, which should cover at least two new costumes for Cayenne, should he continue to exist.

Charlie Bier, spokesman for UL, declined to comment on Cayenne leading the write-in vote in the online contest or what the university would do with the money should Cayenne win next year’s contest.

In early September, Bier said Cayenne was no longer attending football games because, "The university has decided not to spend $16,000 or more for a pair of new costumes until discussions can be held about aspects of mascot, spirit leader and fan traditions at the university."

A group will be formed at some point during the year to review the mascot and spirit leader traditions, but no timeline has been established for naming the group members, Bier said at the time.

Cayenne, who is not an official mascot but a "spirit leader," has become a memorable part of the university, making it on to many best and worst mascot lists through the years.

Yahoo! Sports named Cayenne in its "Top 25 Great College Football Mascots" in 2012, saying that Cayenne is "unquestionably college football’s hottest mascot."

UL does not have an official mascot, but Cayenne was introduced in 2000 after students chose the hot pepper as spirit leader to embody the unique way of life in south Louisiana.