Every morning in the heart of Provo on Y Mountain, a legend awakens to the early sunrise. In the cold morning air he stands to gaze over Utah Valley, concluding his panorama with the view of BYU, the university he came to defend. With both superhuman powers, and the humility of a saint, this myth has protected BYU campus for over 62 years.
So who is this unsung hero? None other than Cosmo the Cougar.
Why is it we know so little about the most prominent figure on BYU campus? Who is he? Where did he come from? Follow along as I take you through my journey of discovering Cosmo.
Not knowing where to go to find the superhero, I started by asking the BYU Sports Department.
“He has a cave in the mountains,” Cosmo’s coordinator Travis Carter said. “He calls it his Cosmo Cave. It’s like a man cave, but manlier. It’s pretty exclusive.”
I went to the deepest part of Y Mountain searching for the Cosmo Cave, but I never found Cosmo. Cosmo found me.
He didn’t say a word. He just beckoned me to follow him. We walked for what seemed like hours until we came to the glorious Cosmo Cave.
Using a rock, Cosmo wrote on the wall asking me why I had come. I told him that the students of BYU deserved to know more about him and who he was. So he started with when Cosmo first came to BYU.
“I came to BYU on Oct. 15, 1953, from the cosmos of outer space,” Cosmo said using a series of hand signals and body language. “BYU needed me, and I needed BYU, so I came.”
Cosmo immediately led the school in cheers and efforts to lift school spirit. As I sat there I could see the light in the brave mascot’s eyes as he reminisced about when he first arrived at BYU. He was just what the student body needed.
“But there was one problem,” Cosmo told me. “I had a freakishly large head. It scared people and I was limited on what stunts I could do.”
Cosmo continued performing with a big head for years, until the late 1990s. While hunting hawks in the mountains, he slipped and fell on his face; as a result, he needed a facelift. It was a tender mercy. His big head was gone, and now he had a smaller, more proportional head that he could do crazier stunts with. This is the Cosmo we know today.
His eyes began to swell up with tears at this point. I knew we were at a tender moment in his life so I changed the subject by asking him about his daily routine. The tender side of Cosmo disappeared and the fierce fighting side reappeared.
“On game day I am all over!” Cosmo said. “I go to the Cougar Walk, stop by Brick Oven, and then hit up four or five tailgate parties. After, I make sure all my props are ready for my stunts and then once we win I am always at the victory bell!”
Cosmo continued to tell me that he prepares for his stunts through serious training, ranging from working out to free running as well as maintaining a healthy diet of meat.
But when Cosmo is not preparing for a game, he is learning like any other student at BYU. You could say that he is the eternal student because he has been studying for 62 years.
“I do show up to class every once in a while,” Cosmo said. “When I do go to class I bring a really large pencil and a really large notebook because that’s my style.”
Cosmo wanted everyone to know he is just like you or me, but with superhuman powers. He enjoys learning and socializing in his free time.
But Cosmo rarely has spare time. When he’s not working out, studying or cheering BYU on, he is at elementary school assemblies or serving the community of Provo. Truly a superhero.
So does this god-among-humans have anyone here on Earth who he looks up to? Yes. The Jazz Bear.
“I respect the Jazz Bear,” Cosmo said. “He not only is a talented mascot, but he also does a lot for the community and that is what I want to do. He really knows how to help kids.”
When I asked him about other mascots, Cosmo was quick to say that he did associate with the University of Utah’s mascot, Swoop, but rarely associates with Utah State’s mascot, Big Blue.
“Big Blue is more like the little brother who’s always trying to get involved, but never getting any attention,” Cosmo said. “He tries to egg me on, but every time it happens it ends up bad for Big Blue. He runs with his tail between his legs every time.”
Big Blue refused to comment when I asked him what he thought about Cosmo’s statement.
Another mascot and friend who Cosmo looks up to is UVU’s Willy the Wolverine. Cosmo was sure to tell me that although Willy is not as acrobatic as Cosmo, he still is a respectable mascot who is also improving the community. Was Cosmo just being cordial? I had to know. So I emailed Willy the Wolverine.
“It’s fun because the schools may have rivals, but when it comes to Cosmo and I, we are great friends,” Willy the Wolverine said in an email. “Things such as our annual polar express ride or taking 1,200 people (hero’s and families) to the Loveland Aquarium. You just never know what he might pull out in order to awe his audience.”
As I left the Cosmo Cave, the sun was setting, giving Utah Valley an orangey glow. I turned around to see Cosmo gazing over the valley with the breeze gently blowing through his fur. I knew that this was a special experience and one I would never forget. Cosmo: the mascot, the myth, the legend.