Players and coaches come and go, but mascots stick around forever. Your team might be on its fourth unprepared coordinator-turned-head coach in as many years, but I’ll bet that your annoying, beady-eyed mascot is still prowling the sidelines for the 89th straight season. After a few hours of reflection and internet browsing, I’ve come up with TFM’s top 25 college mascots in America. Before we get going, however, here are a few that were very good but didn’t quite make the cut.
Swoop – The University of Utah
I’m going to get my alma mater out of the way right off the bat so as not to be accused of blatant homerism further down the line. Swoop isn’t the best mascot anyone’s ever seen, but he’s not too bad either. He wages psychological warfare on opponents with that smug, open-beaked expression, making them think he knows something they don’t.
The Tiger – Clemson University
I decided to only include one tiger in my top 25 rankings, and The Tiger just didn’t make the cut. The name is the first thing that throws me off. The Tiger? With that creativity, you’d think their team would be called the Clemson Football Players. The Tiger isn’t that bad, but the name, paired with his cracked-out, thousand-yard stare, do enough to keep him out of the top 25.
Nittany Lion – Penn State University
I’m not going to bag on the Nittany Lion too much, seeing as it’s based on an actual species of mountain lion that went extinct in the 19th century. However, it doesn’t quite make the cut in my list. I want for it to be a great mascot, but it just looks too much like a creepy Disney costume from the 1950s.
Bevo – The University of Texas at Austin
I’ve always seen Bevo on best-of lists of mascots, and I kind of get it. He’s a proud, powerful steer who’s kind has roamed the plains of Texas for generations. His horns give the team its famous “hook-em” phrase, and he’s not an animal you’d want to mess with. When it’s all said and done, however, he’s livestock. If you eat 70 ounces of his meat in one sitting, your meal is free.
The Oregon Duck – The University of Oregon
Alright, let’s get into it. Here are the top 25 college mascots in the nation.
25. Bernie the Saint Bernard – Siena College
Wow, that came out of left field. Look, if all mascots were tough, intimidating creatures, the world would be a more boring place. Bernie has carved out a niche as a great mascot based on a giant, loyal dog. Saint Bernards have been known to weigh up to 260 pounds, and they were originally bread to guard compounds and rescue lost travelers. Stout, adorable, and, above all, reliable.
24. Big Red – Western Kentucky University
Just what the hell is Big Red? A quick internet search tells me that he’s just a big, red blob. I tried to see if he has any connection to the team name — the Hilltoppers — but then I had to look up what a Hilltopper was. I slipped into a deep internet rabbit hole, and now I’ve got nine tabs of nine different kinds of porn open, of which three are in violation of the Geneva Convention. Then it dawned on me: if you have to devote that much thought just to figure out what the opposing team’s mascot is, you have far less time to strategize against them. Genius, WKU. Genius.
23. Sparty – Michigan State University
Sparty is great and all, but his aesthetic is also a little too close to the look of a generic mascot you’d see in a movie about a fictional sports team. Still, he’s a proud, classic mascot that has done more than enough to earn his place in college football history.
22. Traveler – University of Southern California
I’m going to throw another type of ancient Greek one spot ahead of Sparty. Traveler is another mascot that borders on generic, but then he rides out onto the field and his rider plunges his sword into the dirt. Fuck yeah.
21. Sebastian the Ibis – The University of Miami
Sebastian is the perfect embodiment of the bad-boy mentality Miami wishes they still had, and his real-life counterpart is actually nothing to be messed around with. You might laugh, but an ibis will fuck your shit all up if you make him angry.
20. Peter the Anteater – University of California, Irvine
Okay, so Peter gets zero points for intimidation. I mean, he looks completely ridiculous. Still, I’ve got to show some love to a mascot this unique. He’s also very smooth and sleek, and he moves with grace and precision. The anteater: nature’s supercar.