Cosmo the Cougar
Cosmo - Cougar Mascot
Though football had been banned from Brigham Young University's campus around 1900, it was permitted again in 1920, but became a struggling sport for BYU. The university began looking for a mascot to help boost school spirit. The native Utah cougar was looked on favorably primarily because of its grace, agility, and strength.
Former coach Eugene L. Roberts is generally credited with picking the cougar as the BYU mascot, but its adoption was a gradual one.
In the early 1900's, live mascots were used by some schools to boost their school spirit. According to one source, David Rust, a BYU alumnus and guide on the Colorado River, captured a mother cougar and her three kittens in 1923 and brought two of the cougar kittens to Provo in 1924. Cleo and Tarbo became the university's first mascots, fixing the name Cougars as the nickname for the athletic teams. Another source credits Glen S. Potter and George K. Lewis with helping in their capture and the Kaibab Forest (in southern Utah and northern Arizona) as the site of their capture.
In 1953, BYU athletics acquired a new cougar mascot named "Cosmo." The brainchild of pep chairman Dwayne Stevenson, Cosmo supposedly got his name from the cosmic forces of the universe and was here to help increase the prowess of the BYU athletic teams. Since his first appearance on Oct. 15, 1953, Cosmo has participated with the cheerleaders, Cougarettes, and the BYU marching band throughout many school years.
In 1979, students tried to bring back a live cougar mascot at athletic events, but school officials felt a student dressed in a cougar outfit would be a better (cleaner and safer) mascot.
Those who have become Cosmo have remained anonymous during the school year. Though not a clown, Cosmo is real enough to have feelings that can be hurt by fans booing or throwing drinks at him or by being rude to the other fans or players. With increased demands on Cosmo's time, there have been two Cosmos used during most school years; a female counterpart, Cosmette, was introduced at one time, but was used on rare occasions and only for a short period of time.