Sebastian the Ibis Almost Arrested by FSU PD in '89

I found this article today on USA Today by Laken Litman and thought it was too good to not share with the Cane family. You can select the link below but why not just read it here:

University of Miami mascot Sebastian the Ibis is a beloved part of the game, but in 1989 found himself in a bit of a pickle. 24 years later, the man that was behind the mascot that year spoke to For The Win about getting detained on his way onto the field due to a mishap with a fire extinguisher in today's installment of Throwback Thursday.

It's Miami-Florida State week, which is a reason to remember one of the more ridiculous stories of an epic rivalry: When the Hurricanes' mascot Sebastian the Ibis was detained at Doak Campbell Stadium during pregame in 1989.

Several days beforehand, John Routh, who was Miami's full-time Sebastian at the time, got together with some friends to brainstorm funny ideas for him to do at the game. In the last two meetings in Tallahassee, Fla., Sebastian carried a bucket of water onto the field, making it look like he was going to put out Seminoles' mascot Chief Osceola's flaming spear that he stakes into the ground as tradition to signify it's time for kickoff. Sebastian's antics were meant all in good fun to make the crowd laugh.

But going into the Florida State game, Routh wanted to be a little more devious. So he found a fireman's jacket and helmet to wear over his Ibis costume and planned to use a fire extinguisher as a prop.

All dressed up before the game, Routh waited near the gate where Miami was going to run onto the field. Coach Dennis Erickson yelled, "Let's go!" and the team filed out. Routh began to follow, but someone grabbed him. Unfortunately he couldn't see who it was through his beak. He thought it might have been a student.

But it was a police officer.

"I heard someone yelling, ‘Give me the effing fire extinguisher! Give it to me!'" Routh said. "And so I screamed, ‘No!' But of course nobody could hear me because I'm in a bird costume.

"As I screamed, I jerked away from him and I just happened to squeeze the trigger which splashed onto the chest of a Leon County officer and at that moment, I realized, ‘uh oh, something is wrong here.'"

More officers joined the scuffle.

"Within two seconds, there were five of them slamming me up against the fence," Routh said. "One wing was out to one side, the other wing held behind my back. Another guy is pulling my beak and trying to yank my head off, and I had a chin strap underneath so it felt like he was trying to choke me to death."

Routh could hear the crowd booing and throwing things at the officers. And he had no idea what he had done wrong. Then a policeman barked that they were going to take him to jail for disorderly conduct and disobeying an officer. Routh couldn't believe it.

But then the Miami cheerleading coach came to his rescue and asked the officers what they were doing.

"Then they realized, this probably doesn't look good," Routh said. "Five Leon Country police officers beating up a guy in a bird costume."

Routh was eventually let go, but not until Chief Osceola and Renegade, the horse used in the ceremony, finished their pregame tradition. Then he said the head police officer told him that if he saw him step on the field during the game, he'd take him to jail.

"Being the frisky bird that I was, every time Miami would do something, I'd look back at the cops and wave," Routh said, laughing. "I was kind of egging them a little bit."

The actual game didn't turn out much better for the Hurricanes. Redshirt freshman Gino Toretta got the start because Canes starting quarterback Craig Erickson was out with an injury and Miami lost, 24-10.

Two years later when Routh went back to Tallahassee, he brought the fireman's jacket and fire extinguisher with him again. Before kickoff, someone from the Florida State athletic department found him and said that a county sheriff deputy was going to shadow him the entire game to make sure he didn't go on the field.

And to this day, as confirmed by FSU sports information director Elliott Finebloom, someone from the Seminoles' athletic department is assigned to find Sebastian and make sure the mascot knows it cannot come on the field while Chief Osceola is on it. One worry is that Sebastian might scare Renegade; another is to make sure the Florida State tradition isn't ruined.

"I'm not stupid enough to actually put out the flame," said Routh, who is now the Executive Director of the Miami Sports Hall of Fame. "I knew I wouldn't get out of Tallahassee if I did it."


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