Inside the Suit
PROVO, Utah – Nov 20, 2019 – The roar was deafening as Ken Driggs ran out on the field. He smiled under the mask; a familiar rush coursed through his body. Earlier that day he was just Ken, BYU Marriott MPA student, but now he is Cosmo, BYU’s most beloved cougar.
In 1965, Driggs was in his second year of graduate school. He dedicated his days to developing relationships with his fellow classmates and staying on top of his difficult class load. However, as the sun went down, Driggs hid his identity as he pulled on the cougar suit and transformed into Cosmo. “It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life because no one knew who I was,” Driggs says. “I could act a little crazy without being self-conscious. It was a blast.”
Driggs experience taking on the role of Cosmo led to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and fond memories. He clearly recalls a football game where a man brought a tame cougar into the stadium. “Student relations thought it would be a good idea for the cougar and Cosmo to get acquainted,” Driggs remembers. “I won’t forget the night Cosmo met a real cougar and survived!”
Driggs also had a front row seat to every BYU game, courtesy of the cougar suit. He remembers a particularly memorable basketball game against BYU’s rival, the University of Utah. With seconds left in the game, one of the BYU players drove down the court and made a game-winning basket, putting BYU ahead by one point. “I ran to the free throw line and wrapped my arms around one of the players,” says Driggs. “Everyone was ecstatic!”
Though being Cosmo kept him busy, Driggs made sure the MPA program was his priority. “I loved my graduate classes,” Driggs says. As one of the first students in the MPA program, Driggs saw the future possibilities of working in public service. “A whole new arena was opening up for students like myself,” he says. Driggs graduated in 1966, the second graduating class of the MPA program.
The lessons Driggs learned from his experience as Cosmo and from the MPA program helped him feel prepared for unexpected career opportunities. After working in California for a few years, Driggs made the transition to what would become the Phoenix Valley Metro Regional Public Transit Authority. While there, he played an instrumental role in establishing public transportation throughout the Phoenix area. His MPA background helped Driggs take on the unknown world of transit by teaching him how to handle difficult situations. In 2005, after a successful career in public transportation, Driggs retired in Mesa, Arizona, and was asked to be a guest writer for Deseret News covering BYU sports. His time as Cosmo, coupled with his knowledge of BYU sporting events, made Driggs the perfect informant. “Writing for Deseret News has been a fun hobby,” he says.
Driggs will never forget the opportunities Cosmo and the MPA program provided and the lasting impact his time at BYU Marriott had on his life. His experience juggling classes and making it to every sporting event made his last year at BYU unforgettable, something he isn’t afraid to talk about. “Being labeled as a former Cosmo is one of the best conversation pieces,” says Driggs.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Nikaela Smith