ISU Magazine

Volume 40 | Number 2 | Spring/Summer 2010

Benny through the ages.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services

Heart of a Tiger

Spring 2010 Issue | By Joey Gifford


With 2010 being the Year of the Tiger, an interview with Benny the Bengal seemed appropriate. Enjoy this glimpse into the mind of a champion.


How did you decide to become a mascot?

You know, thereís a time in everyoneís life when an internal investigation is required. One day after I ran down a gazelle, I sat in the June heat gnawing on a hind-quarter. I just wasnít fulfilled. There I was basically reigning the land (save it, Mr. Lion), and I just thought there had to be more. I was tired of gazelle and I was tired of the heat. Next thing I know, Iím in Idaho cheering on ISU. Been fulfilled ever since.

What is your favorite part of campus?

Section B in Holt Arena or Reed Gym are both great for sentimental reasons. Other than that, right under the I on Red Hill. You know, in that little crevice. I can climb up there even though nobody else should. Itís my spot, rrrrrr. Cozy and warm for watching a muddy soccer game or shady and cool for watching the tracksters. Coach Gibson, Coach Nielsen, what up?

Do you ever get homesick?

A little, but at least I have family all around the country. Iíve got cousins down in Louisiana, Auburn, Memphis, Clemson, a really smart one who lives in New Jersey, a really rich one out in Cincinnati. A bunch more down in San Diego. Then, of course the lions are always trying to buddy-up to me, asking about my moves and stuff. They arenít so bad though. Itís the wildcats that think they are bigger than they are who bug me Ö especially the ones who wear purple. Come on, wildcats and bobcats? Theyíre nowhere near us tigers. What was the question? Oh yeah, with all of that it seems like Iíve got family everywhere.

What was your best road trip?

That is a tough question. There have been so many good ones, plus I love going anywhere to cheer on the teams. Montana is fun when itís snowing. I donít know how many times Iíve popped Monte in the head with a snowball. Sacramento is fun but I always wonder why they call it ďCow TownĒ and have an insect for a mascot. Sac State Bovines has a nice ring to it. Maybe they should take all the schools with bugs as mascots and make a new conference for them. It could be the Pest Coast Conference. I guess my favorite road trip would have to be Wichita Falls, Texas in 1981. Go Kraigthorpe! Good times.

What is the hardest part about being the mascot?

When fans donít care. It makes me feel bad for the kids out there playing and the fans are yelling for number 13 to catch the ball or for number 22 to make the basket. Címon, the kid is a senior, been here five years and they still havenít learned the name? I can handle the little kids pulling my tail, or falling because my feet are too big, but when people donít care about our teams, it makes me want to roar.

What is the best part about being the mascot?

I get to be a part of every team, every year. You think I could serve a tennis ball into the right court? I canít, but Iím part of the team! Maybe if we had a wrestling team, I could actually compete, but right now Iím glad to support everyone working so hard.

What are your plans for the future?

I thought about growing a mullet. You know, supporting my olí homie Jared Allen. Iím also still working up enough courage to ask Mandy Carver for her phone number. Is it still called a phone? Maybe I should say Ďher text numberí since I probably still wonít have the guts to call her. That one has taken me a while, but one of these days.

You seem to have a distinctly different look than you had a few years ago. Have you had any work done?

What? Um, yeah, no. Uh, you coming to homecoming this year? Itís the Year of the Tiger, you know?

Is there any one person who is a perfect ISU Bengal?

Oh yeah. Itís easy to find the perfect Bengal. There are tons of Ďem walking around campus. You know, its just somebody who has the wisdom and motivational skills of Dubby Holt or Babe Caccia, the discipline of Merrill Hoge, the grit of Jim Potter, the toughness of Isaac Mitchell, the agility of any of the Bengal Dancers, the desire and coolness of Marvin Lewis. You know, someone like that. Isnít everybody at ISU like that?