ESPN reporter talks spuds with Idaho Potato Commission

Heather Cox, a college football sideline reporter for ESPN, speaks with Idaho Potato Commission members Dec. 20 in Eagle, Idaho. Cox told commissioners that Spuddy Buddy, the IPC mascot, has been popular among football players and coaches and has helped her get the word out about the nutritional benefits of potatoes.

EAGLE, Idaho — Heather Cox, one of the most familiar faces in sports broadcasting, spoke with Idaho Potato Commission members Dec. 20 during their monthly meeting.

Cox has a $50,000 contract with the IPC to produce video segments on the nutritional benefits of Idaho potatoes. She produces the videos while at the various college football games she covers as a sideline reporter for ESPN.

Spuddy Buddy, the IPC mascot, has been turning up in photos with famous athletes and in iconic sports places because of the IPC’s relationship with Cox, who lives in Boise.

IPC Chairman Dan Moss called Cox an unofficial “commen-tater” for Idaho potatoes.

Cox told commissioners that Spuddy Buddy has turned out to be a great conversation starter and helps her transition easily into discussing the nutritional benefits of spuds.

“As you all know, Spuddy Buddy is an instigator of conversation,” she said. “Everybody wants to have their picture taken with him.”

Because she has access to places most other people don’t, such as locker rooms and coaches’ offices, Cox has been able to snap photos of Spuddy in unusual places and with famous athletes. Those pictures have been popping up on the Internet and have been an unexpected side benefit of the IPC’s relationship with Cox.

Cox, who has worked as a sports broadcaster the last three Olympic games, also covers NBA and NFL games.

During a 20-minute presentation at the IPC headquarters building in Eagle, she showed commissioners pictures of Spuddy Buddy with the Oregon Duck mascot, Clemson quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Tajh Boyd and former NBA great David Robinson.

He was also photographed being eyed by “Bevo,” a real bull that is the Texas football team’s mascot, and perched on an end zone pylon in Texas Stadium during the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma.

Cox said former Texas coach Mack Brown loved Spuddy and the Texas players had a ball throwing him around in the players’ lounge.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban loved him, she added.

“This Spuddy Buddy thing has evolved,” she said. “Everybody wants to talk about Spuddy and play with him. He’s had some fun experiences.”

Spuddy’s popularity has helped Cox capitalize on the reason the IPC hired her: to promote Idaho potatoes and their nutritional benefits.

“The message has definitely been getting out there,” she said. “We are out in full force talking about the IPC and Spuddy.”

Cox has produced 11 videos for the IPC and plans to create three more this season, including one at the Rose Bowl and one during college football’s national championship game.

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