By Logan Smith

BOULDER, Colo (CBS4) — Watching a buffalo lead the University of Colorado football team to the field remains one of the most impressive visions among the many colorful mascot entrances across this nation, if not the world, no matter the sport.

A gate opens at the start of each half, and a team of student handlers sprints alongside the galloping buffalo for a loop around the gridiron, sometimes guiding her with a push, sometimes barely hanging to her halter.

Also reliable sight: Visiting football teams refusing to venture onto the field until the animal has lept into her endzone trailer.

Mascot Ralphie V escorts the Colorado Buffaloes onto the field to face the Colorado State Rams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 1, 2012 in Denver. (credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

 

It’s been a tradition since 1965, and despite the potential for things going awry, little has.

However, the safety of each magnificent run around Folsom Field must be carefully weighed with the risks.

Today was another indication that running Ralphie is sometimes, in coach-speak, a game-day decision.

For the second consecutive home game, CU’s mascot remained on the sidelines.

“Ralphie’s health is totally fine,” stated Ralphie Program Manager John Graves an hour before today’s kickoff against Stanford. “She is doing well. Each week we make the decision about her running based on what she wants. Last game she was very eager to run and we felt it wasn’t a safe situation.”

Asked if Ralphie V was moody or aggressive, Graves chose his words carefully.

“No, just eager to run. But we watch to make sure our run is always safe and make sure we make decisions that support that.”

Ralphie leads the Colorado Buffaloes onto the field to face the Colorado State Rams during the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 19, 2015 in Denver. (credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

CU’s buffalo has always been a female, chosen for a smaller statue and calmer temperament.

But that same wild nature that thrills fans and participants alike also makes game-day decisions a necessity, Graves implied.

“Today she isn’t running because we didn’t feel it was in her best interest to run.”

Logan Smith

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