Jeff Kurkjian of “The Coyote” 102.7 joined Sharp and Shapiro to share his experience as Syracuse mascot, “Otto the Orange.” The first question they had for him is one he says is commonly asked by many guys he meets: do you get a better chance to hook up with cheerleaders and get chicks when you’re a mascot? “No, [being Otto] is a campus secret. You can only tell three people that you’re Otto. Your roommate is bound to know when you come home from a game sweating. I started my freshman year and was revealed when I ended senior year. Students I knew came up to me and had no idea,” said Kurkjian.

Kurkjian also shared a horror story from when he was a mascot. Being that he wasn’t allowed to talk at all as a mascot, (ironic now that his career is radio hosting) people didn’t know his identity or gender. At his first ever game as a mascot he wandered over to one of the rowdy sections, which was especially drunk considering it was an exhibition game and Syracuse was beating the other team by 40 by the second half. The excited fans wanted a pic with Otto. Just before snapping the photo they made a bet on whether Otto was a guy or a girl inside the costume. “20 bucks it’s a guy,” said one of the fans. Within seconds “the guy behind me took a reach at me and screamed ‘It’s a guy!’ You can’t be angry, because you are a giant orange with a smile on my face. I took the money and brought it to coach, and they donated it to a children’s organization.”

Being a mascot isn’t all fun and games. Kurkjian said that there were physical requirements he had to meet every year to maintain mascot status. “You had to be under 5’7” to be a mascot. I regularly did pushups, splits, etc., went through a series of core workouts, and even had to change in the same places as football players. I gained the post grad 15 rather than the freshman 15 because I wasn’t working out anymore. Had to go through series of core workouts. It was also helpful if Otto could do a backflip, but it wasn’t required,” said Kurkjian.

Recently, racist graffiti riddled Syracuse University sparking protesting and debate. “Syracuse is a very diverse community. People from all over with different backgrounds. That’s what I loved about going there. I hate that one or two people are making it seem like this university has a serious problem with racism. All classes are being called to be cancelled, but I don’t think this should happen. If there was a physical imminent threat to students of color then you get students off of campus,” told Kurkjian. “Anyone listening who has gone there, you should not be ashamed. The campus should not feel this way. Despite being a white male, I take personal defense cause people think this is a university problem. It is a couple of morons doing what they think is right. Hate speech cannot be accepted.” He says that he hopes that the Syracuse incident gets cleared up and thinks that it is important for students to protest peacefully.

If you want to hear more from Jeff Kurkjian, tune into the Jeff and Aimee show from 5 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 102.7.

Erika Dagri

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