Six Degrees of Brutus Buckeye

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Being Brutus: It's not all glamour . . .
When the top-ranked Ohio State football team tangles with Michigan on November 18 in Columbus, be sure to check out the Northeast Ohio connection cheering on the sidelines. OSU mascot Brutus Buckeye is none other than Andrew Aten. While the 20-year-old junior grew up in the Dayton suburb of Centerville, he's the son of the former LeeAnn Higgins, who was raised in Amherst. Look up her family tree, and you'll find her cousin, Dan, is the husband of Tick Tock Tavern (11526 Clifton Boulevard; 216-631-6111) barmaid Sheila Higgins.
. . . but it's better than it used to be.
"The great thing about the job is that Brutus is loved by 2-year-olds to 82-year-olds, " says Sheila, a retired special-ed teacher from Cuyahoga Falls. "Buckeye fans have a devotion to their team and mascot." Aten is the 41st Brutus since the nutty good-luck charm was created in 1965. Over the years, its mask has been trimmed from a 40-pound mass of papier-mache to a 22-pound fiberglass shell to the current five-pound mold of lightweight rubber, which makes it easy to transport on road trips. Good thing for Aten. Unless the Buckeyes completely screw up their November 11 game wth Northwestern or -- shudder -- fall to the Wolverines, they'll be bound for the BCS title game in Arizona on January 8. And Aten will be there to lead the cheers. "That's his dream," says Sheila. "Now if he can just get us tickets." -- Cris Glaser

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