Top Daug might be gone. But he's definitely not forgotten in Norman. In fact, the fuzzy canine was honored this spring as part of the 20-year anniversary of Oklahoma's 1988 NCAA national basketball championship loss to Kansas.
"That was my first year to be Top Daug,” said Kenny Evans, who donned the suit once more during the March 1, 2008 men's home game against Texas A&M and received an ovation. "Going through that final game was the greatest memory of all my time as the mascot. "That was an unparalleled feeling.” Playing Top Daug in 1988 began a 19-year career in the sports mascot business for Evans. He went on to become a mascot for the Oklahoma City Cavalry and Blazers, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters and Olympic Festival characters. When OU announced it would retire Top Daug in favor of horses Boomer and Sooner in 2004, Evans joined the design committee — albeit somewhat reluctantly. "Top Daug was huge,” he said. "They could have kept him on and used different uniforms. I didn't think the horses would work as a mascot. They're non-functional.” Today, most of the old Top Daug suits have scattered. Evans still has his, as do several other former mascot performers. Some — too worn out and mangy for use — have been discarded. But the suit's former wearers like to think the spirit still remains. "My favorite thing about being Top Daug was probably just the interaction with the fans,” said Zac Stevens, who played the pooch from 1997-2000 and from 2002-04. "Whether it was signing autographs, taking pictures, handing out hugs or just entertaining them, it was always pretty fun. "I was sad to see Top Daug go, but I certainly understand why they made that move.”
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Top Daug made a triumphant return this past season as part of a tribute to the 1988 men's basketball team. by NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN