Butler's run to the Final Four in 2010 changed lives. It made the NBA take notice of Gordon Hayward, now a promising young player for the Utah Jazz. It cemented Brad Stevens' status as one of the best coaches in basketball, and later propelled him to one of the most storied jobs in the history of the sport. Butler's enrollment spiked. And a furry, relatively unknown mascot named Butler Blue II became, after Stevens, the undisputed star of the program.
The 2011 Final Four sealed the deal: Pregame media days, shootarounds, practices -- there was always a swarm of fans and media members crowding around Blue II, taking cell phone photos and posing with him in the frame. Needless to say, he took it all in in high style:
Since then, "Blue II" -- which is to say, his caretakers -- have fostered an online persona second to none in college sports. Forget mascots: Most coaches don't get Twitter like Blue II gets Twitter. You almost feel like you know the little guy.
Which is why it's so sad to hear that Blue II -- as "he" wrote in his blog Thursday -- is seriously ill. The first issue was Cushing's Disease, which causes a tumor on the pituitary gland to send misplaced signals to the body, causing skin lesions. After receiving treatment, doctors discovered an unreleated and even more serious illness: heart failure.
I’ve lived a transparent life, both on social media and out and about in the public eye for nine years. I figure there’s no reason to stop that now. So it’s with a heavy, slightly compromised, but still ticking heart that I tell you that I’ve been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), affecting both the left and right side of my heart.
To put it bluntly, I have heart failure (no connection to the Cushing’s Disease). It’s maybe a bit ironic for a dog that’s been all-heart over the last nine years to develop heart disease, but then again, it’s probably no coincidence that my heart has been maxed out.
As our coaches often say to the Butler student-athletes, “Leave it all on the field!” I certainly left it all on the field and frankly, I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I’m not certain there’s ever been a dog to live a life as charmed as mine.
Sad stuff. Fortunately, despite a "grim" prognosis, Blue II still has some time left to "be on Twitter/social media, around to give my kid brother, Trip, a hard time, eating all of the ice cream that is allowed, and of course, going for rides in my most prized possession, that Burley Trailers Tail Wagon." Oh, and this:
Relaxing Friday at home w/ Mom & Master Everett. Thx to all for your kind words. Feeling loved. http://t.co/wzeLP8ylob
— Butler Blue II (@ButlerBlue2) August 2, 2013
Enjoy it, Blue II. Good dog.