On our way into the stadium we ran into The Mountaineer, senior Brady Campbell, a wood science technology major (really) with a coonskin cap, a musket and a very impressive beard that he started growing last winter, in the run-up to Mountaineer tryouts.
Naturally, this chance encounter made me think of Gunston, so we stopped The Mountaineer for a chat. I started by asking whether he preferred human-based mascots or fuzzy characters.
"I definitely like human characters better," he said. "When I'm down here at the game and I start yelling at the crowd, I mean, you can tell that I make a difference. I start yelling at these guys, you know, "GET UP, GET LOUD!" Like last week, Eastern Washington almost scored, got down there inside the 5-yard line, a whole set of downs, because we had pass interference in the end zone. And twice they had delays-of-game because the crowd was just going so crazy. I was down there just going crazy as well; I was definitely pumping them up."
"And the furry mascots don't do that as well?" I asked.
"No, because all they can do is dance around and stuff," he said. "I mean, they can sit there and go like this [raising arms], but I'm actually yelling at people: 'GET UP!' Also, I'm a better ambassador for the school. I go around and talk to tour groups, and I can do interviews and things like that, whereas the [furries] can't."
"Some George Mason alumni," I told him, "would prefer an actual human Patriot, with a tri-cornered hat and stuff."
"I think that'd be great," The Mountaineer said. "He could pump them up; he could talk, and represent the school as an ambassador."
"They could have two, you know," he said, potentially producing Peace in Our Time. "Tennessee has Smokey the Dog, plus a mascot. That'd be fine."
Then The Mountaineer showed us his musket, and his somewhat controversial Gatorade pouch, and his sweat stains, and then he went to get ready for the game.