The University of Texas athletic department says standard procedure was used in handling Bevo XV, the team's on-field mascot since 2016, when the 1,700-pound longhorn steer briefly acted up before Tuesday's Sugar Bowl.
Bevo was standing within a makeshift corral when Georgia's live bulldog mascot Uga approached on a handler's leash. The two animals had been introduced earlier that day without incident, but this time Bevo lunged through the corral, clipping two photographers and sending other onlookers scrambling.
"He got me in the back," said Nick Wagner, an Austin American-Statesman photographer who had been taking photos of Uga. "I don't know whether it was his horn or his snout, but I think it was his horn. His right horn came around and clocked me in the face along the cheekbone."
Bruised and sore, Wagner added, "I'll just keep my head on a better swivel and pay him more respect in the future."
A photographer from The Daily Texan student newspaper likewise felt grazed by a horn.
Despite the scare, no changes are expected regarding how Bevo, a four-year-old longhorn owned by ranchers in Liberty, Texas, is cared for during live appearances. Members of the Silver Spurs, a student group, serve as Bevo’s handlers and caretakers. The Spurs’ website describes Bevo XV as "one of the friendliest and manageable" Bevos in UT’s history.
"All of the established safety measures for Bevo at home and away football games were in place at the Sugar Bowl last night," John Bianco, a spokesman for UT's athletics department, told the American-Statesman in an emailed statement. "The handlers that are with him at all times are well-educated, trained and did their job."
As the numerals after his name would indicate, Bevo is the latest in a long line of live mascot longhorns at Texas. Live animal mascots have long been part of the gameday atmosphere at many schools, and not without controversy, as AB reported in 2008. Following Tuesday's incident, PETA officials called on both schools to end their live mascot traditions.