Usually, the Q&As that I do here are pretty straightforward. I'll email an SB Nation blogger for the opposing team a few days before a game, ask him or her 8-10 questions, and post answers once he or she gets back to me. For Saturday's game, however, I decided to switch it up a bit. Last weekend, after the Grand Canyon game, I tweeted the subject of today's Q&A if he was interested, and he immediately responded.
That's right, we asked the Butler Bulldog, Blue III (aka "Trip"), some questions about his life, his mascot duties, and what else he does when he's not hanging out at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Here's what he had to say.
1. Tell us a little about yourself outside of mascot life - when and where you were born, what your full name is, where you grew up, etc?
Trip: I was born just west of Indianapolis in Lizton, Ind. and come from Kong King Kennel, just like my predecessors Butler Blue I and Blue II. I was a gift to the University from Frank and Jeane King and have lived with the Kaltenmark (Michael and Tiffany) family since just eight weeks of age. I am a pure bred English bulldog, registered as Butler Blue III with the AKC. Speaking of the AKC, thanks to some coaching by Bark Tutor in Indianapolis, I am also a recognized Canine Good Citizen.
So while I'm a regular pet at home, I grew up as a mascot, travelling to campus as a puppy in tow with Blue II and our Pops, Michael Kaltenmark. Pops is a 2002 Butler grad and currently the Director of External Relations, operating out of our University Marketing and Communications division.
2. When did you get the call to be the mascot? And who came up with your appropriate nickname of "Trip?"
Trip: I was hand-picked to be mascot from a litter of five by my breeder, Frank King. Blue II wasn't getting any younger and the timing was right, I guess, so they picked me and eight weeks after I was born (12/23/2011) I made my debut before a sold out crowd at Hinkle Fieldhouse on February 18, 2012.
My nickname "Trip" came from my Pops and it's short for Triple since I'm Blue III. Since my tenure overlapped with Butler Blue II, who already went by "Blue," compounded by the fact that we lived under the same roof, I had to be given a nickname. Little did Pops know just how appropriate my nickname would be as I am often underfoot.
3. What makes you stand out from previous Butler mascots Blue and Blue II (RIP)?
Trip: Well, I am certainly my own dog. I think I probably have a bit more of a chip on my shoulder...the young, cocky type, one might say. Some may consider me to be a little mischievous as well. I'm definitely very playful and active. I just like to be the life of the party.
That said, much of that is probably attributed to my youth and as anyone would tell you, I love my job and take great pride in being the Butler Bulldog. Plus, it's not like I'm chewing up the office furniture and hiking a leg wherever I please. I consider myself to be very obedient and well trained, but I also like living life to the fullest.
4. Walk us through a typical Butler gameday for yourself.
Trip: I often don't even know it's game day until just before game time. That's probably because Pops knows not to say "Butler Basketball game" to me unless he's serious. I KNOW those words! I cherish Butler Basketball games and the opportunity to go to Hinkle Fieldhouse, so those words aren't just thrown around our house without merit.
If it's a weekday, then I just spend the day in the office like normal and head to Hinkle with Pops after work. If it's a weekend, I usually know something is up when I see Pops put on his trademark khaki pants and navy Butler polo. I don't let him out of my sight at that point!
Once at Hinkle, I mix and mingle with the fans, pose with picture seekers, and pull Pops toward the court any chance that I get. I love the atmosphere in Hinkle and I love to be the center of attention on the court. I live for those moments.
5. Where in Hinkle Fieldhouse can you be found during games?
Trip: I make my rounds in the Bulldog Club hospitality areas in the Efroymson Family West Gym and Wildman Room prior to the game. Then after starting lineups, I run down the court, snatch a giant rawhide bone from the students in the Dawg Pound, and make my way to my seat, just behind the media section. We have a couple of reserved seats up there where I can spread out a bit, but still take in the game.
6. I understand you go on several road trips as well. Where is your favorite place that you've been outside of Indy?
Trip: Yeah, every basketball season we do a little something called the Big Dawgs Tour (#BigDawgsTour) which includes some travel to cities where our men's basketball team is playing. My job is to go and make a little noise for Butler University in a given market besides just playing a basketball game.
So I've been to places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Nashville, St. Louis, and Philadelphia to name a few.
However, I really like the destinations where I get to meet up with fellow famous canines like Smokey in Knoxville, Georgetown Jack in Washington DC, Bryant's Tupper outside of Providence, and Brad Stevens (technically he's a human, but a former Bulldog nonetheless) in Boston. New York City is always pretty fun too.
7. What's the best Butler game you've seen so far as a mascot?
Trip: I have two of them:
1.) Butler v. Gonzaga (January 2013)
No. 13 Butler hosted No. 8 Gonzaga along with ESPN's Game Day in a sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse. You may remember that's the game where Roosevelt Jones stole the inbounds pass and cashed in a floater as time expired for a 64-63 court-storming victory. Proving once again, not all bulldogs are created equal.
2.) Butler v. Indiana (December 2012)
Christmas came early in 2012 as Butler took down No. 1 Indiana in an epic battle at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for annual the Crossroads Classic. After squandering a lead in regulation, the Bulldogs battled back in overtime thanks to a couple of three pointers shot from as far back as Butler's campus and drilled by Rotnei Clark and Chase Stigall. Then Alex Barlow finished off the Hoosiers by rattling in a close range floater in the final seconds. It was beautiful. [Editor's note: No, it wasn't.]
8. Other than watch basketball games, what's your favorite thing to do on Butler's campus?
Trip: I love it all! From just venturing to the office every day, to hanging out at the Butler Bookstore, posing for photo shoots, getting scratches from students and visitors, to just running around the football field; it's good to be me.
9. Tell us what we should know about the Butler basketball team this season, and about interim coach Chris Holtmann.
Trip: It's quintessential Butler Basketball. They're tough, they're disciplined, they're scrappy, and they'll sacrifice everything for the team as a whole. They coach each other up, they make the extra pass, they are rattled by nothing, and they never settle. They're focused on winning the next play and nothing else. They're Bulldogs through and through.
Interim Coach Holtmann is a hardworking basketball junkie with a hoops intellect reminiscent of that guy who now coaches the Boston Celtics. His values and philosophies, both on and off the court, align perfectly with the hallmarks of Butler Basketball and what many have come to understand as The Butler Way.
As a canine, I've given Holtmann the once over a time or two and he passes the sniff test. I'm a good judge of character so take it from me when I say that he's one of us.
Obviously, Holtmann is in a tough spot given the circumstances, but he's handled it gracefully, earning the respect of our players and fans alike. So props to Holtmann and the cast of assistant coaches who have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the success of the program. There are a lot of good people in the Butler men's basketball office who represent a lot of other good people across the entire campus. It sure makes me proud to be their mascot.
10. What's your prediction for Saturday's game against Indiana?
Trip: It will be another fine showcase of the State's best basketball programs, no doubt. Indiana will be motivated and will undoubtedly give Butler its best effort, but I don't think it will be enough.
Besides the obvious fact that we enjoy beating Indiana any chance we can, along with our desire to uphold that impeccable Crossroads Classic record, and our status as reigning Hoosier Classic Champs since 2001-02, the Crossroads Classic is really an opportunity for us to bounce back after a loss at the University of Tennessee.
Unfortunately for Indiana, Tennessee exposed a few things that Coach Holtmann and his staff will be sure to correct prior to Saturday. In fact, Saturday's game has maybe become less about beating Indiana and more about readying ourselves to play 40+ minutes of Butler basketball.
I expect the Bulldogs to come out Saturday with a sharp focus on the task at hand. Like a Bulldog on a pork chop, that doesn't bode well for the Hoosiers. Go Dawgs!
Thanks for answering our questions, Trip! The Hoosiers and Bulldogs tip off on Saturday at 2:30pm, and the game can be seen on Fox Sports 1.