Lions, tigers, and bears are overrated
Most colleges and universities have ordinary mascots; you know – lions, wildcats, tigers, eagles, bears, etc. And then there are those schools that prefer to think outside the box. Allow us to introduce you to what we think are the top 10 craziest, weirdest, and most unusual college mascots.
Banana Slugs – The University of California at Santa Cruz
The university’s official mascot is Sammy the Slug. But he’s just not any slug – he’s a banana slug (a bright yellow mollusk often found on the redwood forest floor often mistaken as a snail). The banana slug began as the unofficial mascot for the schools’ co-ed teams, but when UCSC joined the NCAA in 1980, an official mascot was required. The chancellor at the time wanted a sea lion mascot, but students were too attached to the banana slug. In 1986, students voted the slug as the official mascot. Today, Sammy the Slug has gained national attention. In fact, ESPN named it one of the 10 best college mascots in 2008.
Trolls – Trinity Christian College
It’s a still a mystery how this college got its mascot name. Some say it came from the combination of “TR” in Trinity, the “OLL” in College, and the “S” in Students. Others say the school’s first president wanted a mascot name that began with “TR” to go along with “Trinity.” And then are a few who say there have actually been troll sightings near 123rd Street Bridge (a bridge close to campus). Hmmm…which tale will you believe?
Boll Weevils – The University of Arkansas at Monticello
When boll weevils (tiny beetles that feed on cotton buds) travel in hoards, they can easily destroy an entire cotton field (like those surrounding this southern Arkansas school). In 1925, school president Frank Horsfall chose the mascot, saying the boll weevil was “The only gosh-darned thing that ever licked the South.” While the men’s teams are called the Boll Weevils, the women’s teams are known as the “Cotton Blossoms.” When the school implemented women’s sports in the 70s, women’s teams were originally called the Weevilettes. But then an older lady who attended UAM in the 30s spoke up and said women’s teams were once called the Cotton Blossoms – what an interesting piece of school history!
Cobbers – Concordia College
There’s nothing cornier than an ear of corn for a mascot, especially one that’s dressed in a maroon sweater and has green husks as trousers. Known as the Cobbers, Concordia’s mascot, Kernel Cobb, is definitely in a field of its own. The nickname “Cobbers” was meant as ridicule by a rival school, but Concordia students embraced the name, turning it into their mascot. Today, Concordia fans proudly wear “Fear the Ear” t-shirts on game day and Kernel Cobb cheers on the team from the sidelines. And not just a game day fixture, don’t be surprised if you spot Kernel at “The Maize” student lounge or the “Korn Krib” campus store.
Fighting Artichokes – Scottsdale Community College
Revenge is the driving force behind this mascot. During the 1970s, students were upset with the school for spending too much money on athletics and not enough on academics. So they “got even” by choosing an artichoke (of all things!) as the school mascot, in hopes to embarrass the athletes and the school for years to come. The administration tried to void the election, but it was a failed attempt. Today, students, faculty, and alumni support the Fighting Artichokes enthusiastically, leaving the past in the past. If you go to a game, look for Artie the Artichoke and be sure to chant “Go Chokes!” as the team fights for victory.
Big Red – Western Kentucky University
This furry red blob looks more like a character from Sesame Street than a college mascot, don’t you think? What’s fascinating about Big Red is that no one really knows what he is – but, he still brings an energy and excitement that’s unique to the WKU campus. Big Red is so popular that he makes over 200 public appearances each year in addition to game performances. If you’re lucky, he might even attend your wedding!
In 1965, UCI students voted the anteater as their official mascot based on inspiration from the anteater in Johnny Hart’s comic strip, “B.C.” The cartoon anteater was best known for its signature “Zot!” sound anytime he caught an ant. That’s why the student body now uses the chant “Zot! Zot! Zot!” to rattle competitors when the sports action heats up. Catch Peter the Anteater pumpin’ up the crowd at games…just watch out for his long nose if you get the chance to snap a picture with him!
Fighting Camels – Campbell University
“Campbell camels” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? While some may think the university chose the camel as its mascot for the alliteration, the real reason why the university’s mascot is a camel is because of a minor miscommunication. In 1990, a fire destroyed many buildings on campus. In an effort to encourage the school’s founder and president, Dr. James Archibald Campbell, a friend said to him, “Your name’s Campbell; then get a hump on you! We’ve got work to do!” But Dr. Campbell thought his friend said “You’re a camel, get a hump on you!” The mascot was changed in the 1930s from the Hornets to the Camels. Now, how many times can you say “Campbell Camels” without getting tongue-tied?
Stanford Tree – Stanford University
Stanford University doesn’t have an official mascot, but it does have an unofficial mascot: the Stanford Tree. The Tree appears at all games where the band performs because it’s the official mascot of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. It has huge eyes, no arms, and a really big grin. The most distinct tradition behind the Tree is the fact that the person inside the costume must create another tree for the next season. It’s likely the university will never choose an official mascot, but instead be officially represented by its nickname, Cardinal (the color, not the bird), and unofficially represented by the Tree when the band performs.
Keggy the Keg – Dartmouth College
Like Stanford, Dartmouth doesn’t have an official mascot, but instead an official nickname (“The Big Green”). What Dartmouth does have is Keggy the Keg, an unofficial mascot created in 2003 by the campus student humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. Students and fans alike look forward to seeing Keggy at games and around campus on game day. In 2006, Keggy was inexplicably banned from attending home games, but was allowed to return in 2011.
Bonus! 25 More Unusual College Mascots
We couldn’t help but note these other unconventional mascots – they deserve an honorable mention for their eccentric character!
- Gorloks – Webster University
- Anchormen – Rhode Island College
- Fighting Squirrels – Mary Baldwin College
- Geoducks – The Evergreen State College
- Poets – Whittier College
- Billikens – Saint Louis University
- Zippy the Kangaroo – University of Akron
- Shockers – Wichita State University
- Brutus the Buckeye – Ohio State University
- Fighting Okra – Delta State University
- Demon Deacons – Wake Forest
- Whoo RU the Prof – Rowan University
- Pete the Penguin – Youngstown State University
- The Masked Rider – Texas Tech University
- Cayenne the Pepper – University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- Horned Frogs – Texas Christian University
- Roadrunners – University of Texas at San Antonio
- Battling Bishop – Ohio Wesleyan University
- Ramblin’ Wreck – Georgia Tech
- Fighting Pickles – University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- Chokers – Grays Harbor College
- Rainbow Warriors – University of Hawaii
- Fighting Blue Hens – University of Delaware
- Oakie the Acorn – SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
- Purple Cows – Williams College