From Birds of Prey to Veggies: The Best and Worst College Mascots

July 3, 2018 by CFP Staff

Mascots are important "personalities" at any college - they are a symbol that is easily recognizable and can encourage the teams in the field and the viewers in the grandstand, they are a unifying presence and a comic relief at the same time.

Alas, not all mascots are created equal. Some of them are grandiose and unique, others are a bit funny or (I'm sorry to say this) downright horrible. And some college mascots simply go too far.

There is something, though, that you can't say about those choosing the mascots for their colleges: they don't lack creativity. Just take a look at Wikipedia's list of mascot names - it has everything from birds of prey (Archibald Eagle from the University of Southern Indiana, among others) to vegetables (Artie the Fighting Artichoke from the Scottsdale Community College).

And the list could go on for a long, long time.

As I said above, not all mascots are created equal. Some are creative, positive figures doing their job perfectly well, others are... well, let's just say, they are not perfect. On the "not too perfect" end of the spectrum, we find Rocky the Rocket from the University of Toledo, a cross between a Power Ranger and the protagonist of the popular 1990s video game "Atomic Bomberman".


Rocky became the mascot of the university in 1966 and has evolved a lot ever since, getting its current - pretty uninspired - look in 2002. According to some, it is a great Halloween costume for an eight-year-old but not so cool for anyone above this age. There are many other mascots the public considers not to be the ideal choice for the job, ranging from the half-human, half-pepper Cayenne from the University of Louisiana Lafayette to the Big Red from Western Kentucky, designed in the late 1970s to "symbolize the spirit of Western Kentucky fans". Said spirit is, apparently, a big, red, furry blob.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find Sparty from Michigan State, who looks a bit goofy - he is an overpumped Spartan, after all, that some would call a "Play-Doh Man" - but he is always active and keeping the team's spirits high, even after a series of "Sparty No" moments. Then there is The Mountaineer from West Virginia, who is not an oversized puppet with a man inside but a man dressed up as a veritable mountaineer - complete with a beard, a classic hunting rifle, and a coonskin cap (hopefully, no 'coon was hurt when making it).


At the end of the day, it all comes down to love. I'm sure Stanford students and athletes love The Tree, no matter how scary its googly eyes may be, and Tennessee's students are not the only ones who adore Smokey, one of the few living mascots in the US. And there are some who hate them with the same fervor. So, let me ask you: which college football mascot is your favorite and why? And which is the one you absolutely hate?