Butler’s biggest star? Its mascot
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS – Basketball coach Brad Stevens loves to tell the story about the time he learned exactly how unimportant he was to Butler University.
It was summer, and Stevens and his wife were serving pizzas at a camp in Hinkle Fieldhouse. A girl and her mother walked in as part of an informal campus tour.
“She does a double take, and she goes, ‘Do I know you?’ and I say, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Stevens says. “She says, ‘Well, have I met you before?’ I say, ‘Well, I don’t know. If you’ve been here, probably, serving pizzas at camps.
“She goes, ‘Anyway, where do they keep that dog?’ … She came to see the dog. That sums up all of our places at Butler.”
Yes, Butler Blue II (better known as “Blue” or “Blue II”) is a celebrity. A main attraction. There’s no way else to describe the cult-like following Butler’s mascot has. Blue II has more than 11,000 followers on Twitter as well as his own blog and a special wardrobe.
“We do black tie galas so much so that Blue has his own custom tuxedo,” says Michael Kaltenmark, Butler’s director of web marketing and the proud owner of Blue.
Kaltenmark also owns and trains one-year-old Butler Blue III, who goes by “Trip.” Kaltenmark got Blue in 2004 after another Butler employee, who owned Blue I, left for a job in Washington. Kaltenmark volunteered to raise Blue II, putting his journalism/public relations degree to good use as he brainstormed creative ways to promote the puppy.
“I wanted Butler Blue to become a household name like (Georgia bulldog) Uga or (Yale’s) Handsome Dan,” says Kaltenmark, who is also a Butler grad. “I kind of thought to myself, it might take a long time to get there but I’ll give it a try. Part of that was taking him to campus every day, making him more visible. Games, things like that.
“Then, I kind of got an idea to start blogging from him, then Twitter came about so I started tweeting for him. People seemed to like it so I said I’ll just keep … [For more on Butler's biggest star? Its mascot, click here.]