Page 2 staff
They're the show before the show, the halftime entertainment, and with the exception of Wesley Stokes, the fuzziest things in the NCAA Tournament. From Dogs and Cats to Birds and Demons, they're the NCAA mascots -- lovable and sometimes violent, just like Tonya Harding.
1. What the hell is a Saluki anyway? Is that the most popular question when people find out you represent Southern Illinois?
Saluki: For the last time (and just because I love you guys), we're an ancient Egyptian hunting dog once worshipped as a God, and we are the oldest dog breed in the world. And as far as this being the most popular question being asked -- up until now, it was tied with "your place or mine?," but you guys just put it over the top!
2. Has anyone ever told you that you look like "Teen Wolf"?
Saluki: Well, actually, there's a little known fact about that film. It's loosely based on a true story ... I wouldn't sell them the complete rights because they wanted Michael J. Fox to play me. Michael J. Fox?
Saluki: I usually don't like to head "South of the Border" if you know what I mean -- it's hard to tell where those other mascots have been.
4. Your team played Texas Tech in the first round. Did Bob Knight choke you? Did you have any interaction with him?
Saluki: Yeah, I was backstage, and he walked right by me, and my first thought was, "Man, that guy's old!"
5. Who wins between a Saluki and a Husky? What's the strategy for taking down Jonathan the Husky? (Sadly the lack of thumbs prevents a truly manly thumb-wrestling showdown)
Saluki: Well, I stand about 7-foot, 220 pounds (in the costume, that is), so I've got the reach as well as the speed advantage. But I'll probably just beat 'em with my good looks.
Saluki: We're like modern day Gladiators. People love to see us guys getting violent. It's voyeurism at it's best.
7. If you could challenge one mascot to a mano-a-mano showdown, who would it be?
Saluki: That's easy -- "Big Al" from Alabama. That slackjawed mother wouldn't know what hit him.
8. What's the best prank you ever pulled or best prank ever pulled by a mascot?
Saluki: Well, "this one time, at mascot camp," about seven mascots stole a lifesize Britney Speares cardboard cutout and desecrated it during a skit.
Saluki: Definitely, J.J. Jumper, the NCAA's official mascot. He's the man ... or the green goofy looking guy as it were. Regardless, he's the man.
10. If you could invite any three mascots -- living or dead -- to dinner, who would they be and why?
Saluki: The Pillsbury Doughboy, The Michelin Man and Grimace. These guys don't get out much.