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UCLA Football Opponent Deep Cut: UC Berkeley

Time to hang out with one of life’s most mysterious creatures.

NCAA Football: California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Deep Cut is a companion piece to the Opponent Preview, in which I take a closer look at something related to the opponent, with a humorous slant.

I’m currently up in the middle of nature, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about the following topic, so bear (heh, good pun work there) with me a bit here as the UC Berkeley Deep Cut attempts to answer, once and for all: What is Oski?

NCAA Football: California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

From the wikipedia article for Oski:

Oski or Oski the Bear (named after the Oski Yell) is the official mascot of the University of California, Berkeley. Oski’s name, design and character were developed by William “Rocky” Rockwell, who was the first student to play the role, and former Daily Cal editor Warrington Colescott.

If you’re wondering why the second sentence was left in that quote, that’s because the stupidity of Oski leads me to believe that both William “Rocky” Rockwell and Warrington Colescott were not actually UC Berkeley students, but rather Stanford students who were able to pull off an amazing prank that continues to exist to this day (I mean come on, Warrington Colescott is such a Stanford name).

Anyway, the article clearly states that Oski is intended to be a bear. I say intended, because seriously, look at this thing:

Grambling v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Let’s just start with the face, and I have a simple statement to make here: no self-respecting bear would ever look like that. In fact, I’ve seen multiple bears in the last week and neither of them look like that. Part of the problem, I think, is the different color that the face has, giving it an almost-human appearance despite, allegedly, being a bear. I’m also a big fan of the old-man wrinkles above the eyes, really accentuating the fact that Oski is less bear than man at this point.

We should also, maybe, talk about how he walks.

Now, obviously, being a mascot, I’ll give some leeway to the fact that Oski is walking upright (well....we’ll get to that in a second) and not on all fours, but just look at this thing walk. Hands behind the back at all times, hunched over, walking with all the purpose of a potential serial murderer. The white gloves definitely add to this vibe, as they are clearly intended to be removed at a moment’s notice should the need to get rid of any evidence arise.

But, at the same time, it’s hard to say that Oski is truly just a mutated human. Just look at those interactions Oski has; those people had fear in their eyes when Oski was near, and it’s very clear from the video that Oski was trying to get away from people as quickly as possible, just in case the need to kill rose again.

The UC Berkeley subreddit (boy, I’m sure happy the internet exists) posited a different theory that Oski may, in fact, be a squirrel. They did not offer any sort of evidence to support this theory beyond posting a picture, which I guess counts as a strong, well-sourced paper at UC Berkeley these days, but I do have to say I find the argument compelling, if only by virtue of Oski being so awful that I am willing to consider him to be any sort of animal.

The thing I always fall back on is the smile.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at California Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Do you all know how anglerfish work? How they use the luminescent light attached to an antennae to lure prey in before the kill? Oski’s smile is the same evolutionary trick, and is terrifying in its efficiency. The smile is harmless enough to lure young children in, which makes them easy targets for Oski’s murder crusade through the Pac-12.

Try to avoid contact with Oski at all times, friends.

Go Bruins!