Aiken, SC (WLTX) - While fans were starting to head to Atlanta on Thursday, one very important chicken also began his journey there. Sir Big Spur, the live gamecock that sits proudly on the sidelines of USC games, packed up and headed to the Georgia Dome.
News19 went behind the scenes to find out about his ride, his owners and what makes him such an important part of being a fan.
"We felt a little bit of nostalgia. We call him Sir Big Spur because the original mascot was Big Spur and we put the Sir in front of it, just to give him his own identity," says owner Ron Albertelli.
For USC fans, seeing these feathers on the sidelines is a part of the game that can't be missed - for some, even after death. Says owner Mary Snelling, "The most unusual thing that happened - we were at Tennessee and a lady who's husband had recently died asked us to take his ashes out on the field."
While the clock is running, he stands proudly on his electric cart. But, how did he get here? Snelling and Albertelli started bringing a rooster to USC baseball games about 15 years ago, after Snelling got one as a gift for being such a big fan. "For 10 years, we did it with a bird called Cocky Doodle Lou, cause that was around the time of Lou Holtz," Albertelli explains, "We were thinking about Cocky Doodle Ray, but that just didn't sound the same."
When the new athletics director took over, he was looking for ideas to hype up the football fans. Jokes Albertelli, "One of the recommendations: how about asking that idiot that's been bringing the chicken to baseball for 10 years to bring him to football?"
Since then, he's become a symbol - but one that has a lot of baggage. "Getting him ready, we just go get him and put him in the cage. It's getting all the other things that go with him ready which takes the time," Albertelli says, "The Volkswagen, the trailer, the motor home, the rest of it."
All to let the world know that USC has something to crow about. "We're just trying to do the best we can to make the University of South Carolina something uniquely different and a little bit special from any other university," he says.
Sir Big Spur's owners cover all the costs of transporting him to and from the games, and this is actually the third bird. Albertelli says roosters have a nine to 12 year lifespan, and this one's only about five. So he should have many more years of delighting fans to come.