Ceremonies and festivities are commonplace during the week leading up to the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. On Thursday morning, two tire sculptures inspired by the Western Michigan and Wisconsin mascots were unveiled at the Omni Hotel in Dallas.
Both sculptures were constructed entirely of Goodyear tires by recycled materials artist Blake McFarland. McFarland put in over 300 hours of work to construct these masterpieces in San José, which currently sit on pedestals at the Omni Hotel.
McFarland is a tire artist and minor league baseball pitcher, commissioned by Goodyear for this project. About 500 tires were used in the hand-making of the two mascot figures, which weigh about 400 pounds apiece. Each sculpture stands 6.5 feet tall.
Former Cotton Bowl MVP, NFL No. 1 draft pick, and Super Bowl champion Keyshawn Johnson was present at the unveiling ceremony of the sculptures, along with McFarland and Goodyear executives, to deliver a speech regarding the unveiling of the sculptures.
The Western Michigan sculpture required over 175 hours and 600 feet of rubber tires to construct. Underneath the bucking bronco, a plaque reads that the statue symbolizes the “spirit of what it means to be a Bronco” and the “Blimpworthy attributes — hard work, determination, and grit.” The statue stands on its front legs in a field of white grass also composed of tires. Its hind legs are kicked high in the air and the statue features striking components such as a detailed, jagged mane flowing along the bronco’s neck.
The Bucky Badger sculpture is much smaller in size than the bronco, but also features intricate detail, with hundreds of black and white spikes, and Bucky’s signature red and white striped sweater.
Goodyear has been marketing its “Blimpworthy” campaign throughout the 2016 college football season to celebrate the hard-working characteristics of college football. For the third consecutive year, the tire manufacturing company is recognized as the primary sponsor of the Cotton Bowl.
Both sculptures will act as centerpieces at several festivities throughout the week. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. EST in Arlington on Jan. 2. The tire sculptures will be rewarded to the two universities following the conclusion of their seasons.