Believe it or not, Brutus Buckeye has been winning over the hearts of Ohio State fans for 50 years. His cheerful personality and contagious spirit are part of what makes Buckeye Nation an unforgettable experience.

It all started on October 31, 1965, when two students displayed a papier-mache mascot for the homecoming game against Minnesota. From there, the mascot progressed to a dancing fiberglass head, complete with a smile that would turn into a frown if the Buckeyes lost.

In 1981, Brutus evolved into an early version of what you see today, with a full-body costume, not just a head. This also premiered his classic 00 number jersey. Over time, small changes led to the modern Brutus that we know and love. Check out some pictures of Brutus through the years.

To celebrate Brutus’ 50th Birthday, we caught up with Craig Vild, a former Brutus Buckeye, to get inside Brutus’ head and learn what it’s like to be the man behind the mascot.

Vild graduated from Ohio State in 2009 with a marketing degree, and is currently working at a Digital Marketing Agency in San Diego. After attending pre-tryout clinics, he learned how to portray Brutus’ mannerisms, how to make the motions obvious from the nosebleed section, and how to get the walk ‘just right.’

Tryouts involved an interview with the coaches and other members of the athletic department, as well as an in-costume audition. Here, he learned the arm movements that accompany the fight song, as well as a creative skit to do alongside “Hang On Sloopy.”

Vild made it through tryouts and played Brutus for two years. While he was Brutus, his goal was to make people laugh as often as he could. All he needed to do to get into character was to put on the head.

He says, “That was a good enough switch to get you to remember not to talk, to really accentuate your arm movements, and [to remember] that you’re the face for the greatest university in the world.”

During this time, he performed at football games, special events, and a variety of other University gatherings. His favorite memory was making a This Is SportsCenter commercial with Richard Simmons. He says, “It’s not everyday that you get to travel and meet someone so iconic.”

Brutus also had responsibilities off the field, one which was Vild’s favorite part. “I had a soft spot for the children’s hospital visits because they were always so excited to see Brutus,” he says.

Brutus is one of the most recognized mascots in the country, not only for his uniqueness (what other school has a nut?!), but also for his charisma. While he may be turning 50, he has more of a youthful spirit than ever.

Even though his birthday is on October 31, the official celebration will take place on November 7 at the Ohio State vs. Minnesota home football game. Help us celebrate Brutus’ birthday by tweeting us your favorite memory @ColumBUZZ614 and use #Brutus50. Happy Birthday, Brutus!