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INSIDE UB

If Victor E. Bull could talk, the UB mascot would ask people to vote for him in the National Mascot of the Year contest being run by a credit card company.

But since he's a bull, he can't, and all Victor can do is mutely watch as Penn State's Nittany Lion runs away with the fan voting.

As of Tuesday night, the Nittany Lion had 30 percent of the vote and was blowing away the 11 other finalists on the Capital One All-America Mascot Team.

Victor E. Bull has 3 percent of the votes, tied with Syracuse's Otto the Orangeman. (Hey, a bull is a way cooler mascot than a big orange. Oranges can't even walk around, normally.)

Southern Mississippi's Seymour the Eagle is in last place.

Each finalist receives $5,000 to go toward his or her school's athletic program, and the mascot of the year will receive another $5,000. Online voting, conducted until Dec. 20 at www.capitalonebowl.com, helps determine the winner.

This made us wonder more about Victor. What's the story of The Man in the Blue Fur Mask?

UB mythology has Victor and his younger sister, Victoria S. Bull, arriving here from an Upstate farm. Victor is "300 pounds of royal blue muscle and fur," said Jill Rexinger-Kuhn, director of promotions in UB's athletics department.

Actually, Victor is a costume of fur material and padding worn by a male UB student at home football and men's and women's basketball games.

"He doesn't speak and he's never seen without his head," Rexinger-Kuhn said.

She declined to identify the student who wears Victor's costume, but said he's been doing it for three years. He's compensated for his work, she said, without giving details.

The school puts few explicit limitations on what Victor can or can't do when he's performing at a game, but asks the student to remember he's representing UB.

Victor has not gotten into any fights with other mascots recently.

"He's pretty much well-behaved," Rexinger-Kuhn said.

When we learned that the mascot makes appearances off-campus at various events, we had a great idea for how Victor and UB to grab some attention.

Have him run with the bulls at Pamplona.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers has awarded Eli Ruckenstein, a SUNY distinguished professor at UB, its highest honor.

The institute has granted Ruckenstein its Founder's Award, which is given each year to an engineer who has profoundly impacted the practice of chemical engineering. Ruckenstein is a past winner of the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest honor in the sciences.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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