Lamest college mascot (BCS schools edition)

I recently attended U.Va.’s football season opener, where the Mike London era was deemed a near universal success as the Hoos exorcized the biggest shame of the Al Groh era (a 2009 season opening loss to mighty FCS William & Mary) and helped the ACC prevent repeating another 0-2 start against the mighty CAA by beating the Richmond Spiders 34-13.

I say “near universal success” because of this creature, which made its debut Saturday:

Now, I’m not one to get too worked up over bad mascots. They are, after all, for kids. And this horrendous creature is only a side mascot to U.Va.’s real mascot, Cavman — a gay, manscaped Frenchman in an astronaut suit, which if you’ve read the tales of Cavaliers is pretty much historically accurate. But the locals in Hooville were not pleased. Some college football fans, and I’m talking about grown ass men, are not merely content to be armchair quarterbacks and Monday morning coaches; they like to play AD with a GED and hold up their pretend BS in mascot marketing to speculate on how a joke of a mascot will crumble their favorite program from the foundation.

At U.Va., the hypersensitive fans probably just can’t take any more ridicule after a 3-9 Al Groh special in 2009. I’ve seen the new mascot called everything from what would happen if Grimus raped the Chick-fil-a cow to Mr. Cameltoehands. I have personally dubbed it Puff the Magic Demon Horse.

What this new scandal of Charlottesville is not is the worst mascot in college sports. Not by far, not even close. In fact, I had only planned one “Worst Mascot” debate, but the sheer immensity of terrible mascots at every level of college athletics has forced me to split it up into divisions: BCS schools, non-BCS FBS schools, FCS schools, and Division II and III (where shit really gets Grateful Dead, Beatles White Album trippy).

So without further adieu, I present LND’s five lamest BCS school mascots. There’s no real methodology (to even suggest such a scientific process is to insult the nature of the late night debate), but in general I celebrate mascots that are so terrible they’re awesome (the Western Kentucky Blob) and instead look for that certain soulless lameness that comes when sports marketing departments try really hard and still fail.

5. The Penn St. Nittany Lion

How do you fuck up a predator cat, Penn St.? Easily, the easiest of all mascot breeds to successfully execute. Well, start with using a leftover oversized Winnie the Pooh costume for the Big Cat’s body. Next, instead of giving your ferocious feline a full set of teeth, make him look like Cletus the Slack Jawed Kitty straight out of the coal mines of Southwest Pennsyltucky by only giving him four teeth and a gap-toothed grin. Third, leave him au natural in the buff, but put a scarf on him just so he has the feel of a freaky European football streaker that you should shield your children’s eyes from.

4. Big Al, the Alabama Elephant

I’ve got no problem with a big elephant costume in principle, but let’s call a spade a spade here: That is a big, swinging, flaccid cock dangling from that creature’s face. Good lord, I’d hate to see Big Al get excited. Maybe I’ve just got trunk envy. Don’t mock me elephant. Some are showers, some are growers.

3. Brutus the Buckeye (Ohio St.)

Ohio St. fans will defend this atrocity to the death, much like they will defend their teams over-inflated ranking every year. But much like Ohio St.’s performances in national title games, there’s just not much evidence to support Brutus as anything other than lacking. Let’s look past the obvious issue that Brutus’ testicle head is the perfect complement to Big Al’s dick face. What is going on with that outfit? He’s wearing those old school, three inch too short jogging pants that everyone but your crazy Uncle Jimmy with the pornstache tossed out in 1986 and, speaking of the ‘80s, Freddie Krueger is bound to come looking for his sweater sometime.

2. Big 12 Cowboy mascots (the Texas Tech Red Raider, the Oklahoma St. Cowboy, and the Nebraska Cornhusker)

Someone tell Big 12 schools to stop the biggest hit to the image of the American cowboy since Brokeback Mountain. Let’s play a round of rapid fire.

Texas Tech: Flouting Warner Bros. ownership of his likeness and all sorts of laws prohibiting fire arms in public places, Yosemite Sam has apparently decided to live out his Zorro fantasy in Lubbock.

Oklahoma St.: I am honestly afraid this man is going to rape me. He has clearly done time. And the detail of the wrinkles in his creepy hard plastic face is disturbing. I’m willing to bet this costume actually smells like chewing tobacco spit and strippers.

Nebraska: Tight jeans, sturdy work shirt, normal size cowboy hat, chizled jawline; the Cornhusker is much more like real modern cowboys — gay.

1. The Stanford Tree

You might think the Tree would fit my “So terrible it’s awesome” exception, but you’re missing a key element exacerbating the horrendous lameness of this mascot. You see, one Stanford student is chosen to grace the Cardinal sidelines each year in a Tree costume that they must make themselves. And under the irresistible pressure for undergrad college students to become unbearably obnoxious by out-cute and clevering anyone who has come before them, it has become en vogue on campus to make each year’s tree more terrible and ridiculous than the one preceding. Unintentional humor has resulted in some of the best mascots in college sports, but forced cuteness in a hybrid form of nerd and college humor is not to be rewarded. Sorry, Stanford smart asses, but I have to give you the only thing that will wipe that smug smile off your pretentious faces. A big, steaming ‘F.’


113 Responses

  1. I actually like The Nittany Lion, even though he is a scarf wearing hipster who loves to throw the irony of his nude/scarf combo in everyone’s faces.

    • I’m a Penn Stater and, of course, I love the Nittany Lion. However, his pajama costume is pretty ridiculous. Even Penn State fans make fun of the costume. And for those who don’t know, it’s a mountain lion.

      That said, I never really noticed the bulls eye right on the Buckeye’s crotch before. Haha! That just made my day, as someone who really dislikes Ohio State. And I never before saw Stanford’s Tree – that is the worst looking mascot I’ve ever seen.

  2. Neb mascot = not gay. Admit it, you wanted to be a cowboy growing up. Please don’t take it out on the Cornhuskers.


  3. If Stanford’s nickname is the Cardinal, why is their mascot a tree?

  4. The Stanford Tree is simply heartbroken now that its soul-mates, the Lopez twins, are no longer there.

  5. The tree is by far one of the worst mascots – not just in college but ever!.

  6. As a Cal alum, I still get a chuckle from the Stanfurd Tree. However, to be accurate the Stanford Tree is an unofficial mascot and is part of the band. The team name is the “Cardinal”: the color and not the bird.

  7. I have to do a write for the worst mascot is UC Irvine Anteater. It was put to a vote in the 60’s and the students picked a freaking anteater over a seahawk, unicorn, and eagle.

    • Samantha – The Anteater will definitely get due consideration in our non-BCS lamest mascots edition, which we should have up in the next day or so.

      • Nope, worst is the Rhode Island Nads or UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Haha. But being from a big ten school, I’ve got to say the Buckeye is BAD. Bad bad bad. But most big ten kids hate OSU unless they go there. :)

      • Also, this means I’m mostly hoping the Nads and/or the Banana Slugs make the non-BCS edition. :) (Seriously, look up the Nads…they have a saying “When the heat is on, the balls stick together” and they call their cheerleaders “the jockstraps” because “they support the Nads”. Yep. AWESOME.

  8. There is no mane; therefore, the lion is a lioness. The lack of clothing on an animal theme does not bother me. Years ago the scarf would have been fine. Now it just makes me think of Hogworts.

  9. These are bad and hilarious – I have one more suggestion to add to the mascot Hall of Shame – the St. Mary’s College Gael. He has a giant head, crazy hair and wears a kilt.

    And, no, I’m not talking about Omar Samhan.

  10. You’re missing one of the all-time worst Big 12 mascots…K-State’s wildcat. The thing has the head of a cartoon cat and a human body. Couldn’t they afford to spring for the arms and legs of a costume?

  11. I thought the Buckeye was bad…and then I scrolled down. That tree is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen…

  12. Awesome post – all of those are just awful. Coming from a Big 12 school, I was happy that my Aggies were not on your list. Our mascot you could say is a drill Sargent and his trusty dog Reville.

  13. The Buckeye has to be the worst because whoever designed him put a target right in his crotch, which I’m sure delights little kids and opposing fans.

  14. I always expect to see WKU’s Hilltopper on mascot lists because it’s just so weird! We joke that he is Grimace’s cousin.

  15. I can agree with most of them, but if you want to know the real history of Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State. The mascot is actually based off of an actual old U.S. Marshall from a nearby town, who had killed men and was a real gun slinger. Shouldn’t mascots be intimidating?

    The Real Pistol Pete:

    • This is why Pistol Pete does not deserve to be on the list.

      • to echo perron, it’s Pistol Pete’s costume execution that makes it one of the worst mascots. Seriously, that thing is scary. After seeing the YouTube video, I would think OSU fans would try to make their mascot look more like the real Pistol Pete, because he’s actually got a good look to him as far as cowboys go. Rustic, tough, yet slightly endearing. He might offended if he saw his oversized, plastic-ated mascot rendition. I would be. Eww.

      • I agree with nwlynch, mascots are supposed to be intimidating. Furthermore the real Pistol Pete was honored to have his likeness be made the mascot of the state’s university, name one other mascot that carries 3 guns wherever he goes? If that’s not intimidating I don’t know what is.

    • I totally agree, please don’t hate on something unless you know the real story behind it. Pistol Pete is Frank Eaton and he is an important piece of history to Stillwater and OSU. Pistol Pete represents OSU’s family and community. You can ragg on a cats, horses or dogs as mascots; but please dont dis on OSU’s family history sine Pistol Pete is a real person. Pistol Pete shows how traditions can really make college feel like home, safe and sound.

    • You all are missing the point – the story behind Pistol Pete is really cool. The same goes for the story behind the Nittany Lion. It is a very poorly executed costume, however. They would have been much better suited just putting a fake mustache on some grizzled old guy. The hard plastic head is terrifying and the hat looks like a giant orange corpse flower

  16. Don’t forget the University of Delaware Blue Hens…come on… ;-)


    • When I was at JMU, I was in the band and we made so many cracks on the Blue Hen that we almost weren’t allowed to perform at their stadium my senior year. “Choke the chicken” was the chant of choice, and it was hilarious, even if it almost got us banned from Deleware forever.

  17. I voted for the Stanford tree because I find it the least menacing, but honestly, the Big 12 Cowboys have ALWAYS bothered me.

  18. I don’t understand what that giant black thing is. Is it a combo between Pokey (Gumby’s horse) and an evil Teletubby? I don’t get it…


  19. These are all you could come up with? What about the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug? granted, UCSC has no sports teams worth mentioning but the slug is pretty bad.

  20. My high school’s mascot is a Cobbler (Rapid City Central High School), which seems very lame at first, but I made myself feel better about it because it is one of the only teams in the country named after a person and we’re in the Smithsonian for it.

    My college mascot (the college I graduated from) is a rabbit. That’s right, a rabbit. A jack rabbit though, which I guess are incredibly vicious — SDSU Jacks.


  21. That Stanford tree was beyond horrible lol. My favorite mascot easily is the Oregon Duck, he has the best fights and when they played New Mexico in the season opener he did 500 push ups because they scored so many points.

  22. I attend UC Irvine. I’m surprised our wonderful Peter the Anteater did not make your list. Or how about them UCSB Banana slugs? The Long Beach State Dirtbags?

    • This is the BCS edition. We are going to go through the other schools in a series of posts over the next couple of days. There have been a couple of Anteater votes already.

  23. I always thought the Nittany Lion looked like it was made out of recycled bathroom rugs.

  24. hahahaha. Love this! Apparently people aren’t paying attention to the seperate division thing. College idiots, how do they pass anything? Anyway, I voted for the Buckeye. Mainly because I hate OSU. Beings my last name is Penn, I couldn’t go there, the elephant is SEC, Tiger went to Stanford(I think), and as a kid, I loved cowboys. GOOOOO Miami, beat OSU!!!

  25. What about the OU Schooner or the Dog they use at Basketball games? THAT is lame. Pistol Pete was a real guy who shot people. Not lame at all.

    • The history of Pistol Pete is great and all, but his face still looks like it was pressed in a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine.
      And mascots can be intimidating, but this guy is causing nightmares for every kid in a 50-mile radius of Stillwater.

  26. Oh my goodness! This was just hilarious. I often wonder just how stinky the inside of those mascot’s get. All that jumping & moving around they do!


  27. I don’t think I get to vote. I live in Oregon State Country . . . home of the . . . Beavers! Fourty-Five minutes south are the Oregon . . . Ducks! And both of my sisters live in Minnesota . . . home of the . . .Gophers!

    Then again, Beavers do chop down trees . . . with their teeth.

    Stanford it is!

    • We here at LND are a big fan of Beavers (real beavers, mascot Beavers and Chad Ochocinco). The Oregeon St. Beaver would certainly never appear on this list, but I gave the Minnesota Gopher pretty strong consideration. I dig the 1950s retros sweater he still rocks at football games, though.

  28. I’m sad the geoduck, from Evergreen State College, didn’t make this list.

    I mean, WOW, they really went there with that horrible mascot!


  29. Oh, for Pete’s sake!

    Show me a mascot better than Pistol Pete! He was a real-live, gun slinging cowboy who lived close to Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University.

    You just shot yourself in the foot with your line about him being a hit to the image of the American cowboy. Go read his book and then take Pistol Pete off the lame list!

    • I love your zeal for Pistol Pete. Fans should defend the honor of their mascots.
      But the fact is you are defending Pistol Pete the real dude, and I am talking about this atrocity of a mascot. Seriously, do you think Pistol Pete would have made it five minutes in the old West wearing an oversized, hunter orange cowboy clown hat?
      As a salute to you rabid Okie St. fans out there, I will acknowledge that real Pistol Pete is not an affront to cowboy lore. On the other hand, T. Boone Pickens and Dez Bryant are both douchebags … THERE, I said it!

      • How can you say T Boone Pickens and Dez Bryant are douchebags? What is your reasoning?

        That would be like me saying your an absolutely terrible writer, THERE, I said it!

        Its just an opinion from someone who has no idea what their talking about.

        As far as being a bad mascot, Pistol Pete may not be an authentic cowboy but who would want to come to a game and see someone dressed up in brown clothes and a leather cowboy hat? It is called a mascot! It is there to be bright, colorful, be school spirited, and cheer along with everyone.

        I really hope witting isn’t your day job.

      • You’re welcome to call me a terrible writer. Just don’t tell the New Yorker, OK? I’m still waiting for a call.

        As for T. Boone and Dez Bryant. Let’s start with Dez, the lesser of two evils. He screwed the Cowboys over for selfish reasons by letting Deion Sanders pimp him to agents, resulting in a 10 game suspension and the death of Okie St.’s Big 12 title hopes. Then this preseason, he refused to carry his teammates pads as his rookie hazing, despite the fact every rookie in the NFL gets hazed and they almost universally accept their punishment. Dez = Douche.

        T. Boone, smart man that he is, is trickier. He is now masquerading as an environmentalist after making billions doing his best to keep the world hooked on oil. But much worse than that, he is betting big on climate change causing devastating drought by buying up water rights throughout the Southwest U.S. When T. Boone privatizes water and you’re paying $20 to take a shower or $5 to water your gardenia in a decade, you’ll be calling him a douchebag, too. He’ll have a lot more money to donate to OSU though!

        Anyways, this business is all too serious for LND. I think I’m going to go write some fart jokes for my next post.

  30. I never understood the TCU one. What the hell is a Horned Frog!?! Anyways, nice post!

  31. Entertaining post, and too many comments to plow through at work. A tree? Politically correct, I guess.

    My only helpful comment would be to point out to you that Yosemite Sam is not “flaunting” laws. He is “flouting” laws. He is flaunting his mustache.

  32. How about the worst names. I saw a school called the Sturgis Scoopers. What would that mascot be- a giant pooper scooper?

  33. Loved it! Now I’d like to see your take on the best college mascots.

  34. Very good list. What about the University of South Carolina gamecock? Looks like a MacDonalds character.

  35. The Stanford Tree is pretty hilarious… and awful.

  36. Well, I have not gone to college yet..maybe in like 3 years? Maybe 2? BUT, My High School’s Mascot… is a Fluco. And for those who are unaware of this “creature” it is a a flying shoe.

  37. On the other hand, in the annals of best mascots, my alma mater UC Santa Cruz’s Banana Slug should come in pretty highly. A highly apropos mascot for the anti-sports, counterculture university; famously, when the campus was first constructed, no football stadium was built and the basketball courts were all designed with dimensions just wrong enough that they would never be NCAA-playable.

    In the 1980s, during the conservative Reagan era, the chancellor of UCSC worked tirelessly to change the mascot to something with a spine, in this case, a sea lion; a sea lion sculpture erected near Thimann labs was painted yellow every week until the banana slug was reconstituted as the school mascot in a campuswide referendum (students voted 90% in favor of keeping the slug), at which point the chancellor relented.

    If you’re ever on campus, the mascot-bearing merchandise is worth checking out–chocolate slugs, slug-shaped slippers and plush slugs are all purchaseable from the campus bookstore.

  38. I did not even realize the last one as a tree! hahaha! funny.

  39. Texas Tech’s main mascot is the Masked Rider, a human on a horse. Way back in the Southwest Conference days, some rule came about that live animals could not be taken to away games, unless the home team allowed it. So Raider Red was created as an alternate mascot. The costume was designed based on cartoons that Dirk West used to draw.

  40. hey..which one is ur school?

  41. The Stanford Tree is ugly!

  42. The Syracuse Orangeman is hilariously lame. It’s a dude, in what seems to be skin-tight electric-blue spandex from ankle to wrist, wearing a giant anthropomorphic orange.

    Yes, there is a face on the orange.

    His arms and legs stick out of the sides, all blue and skinny and weird, but his entire torso AND HIS HEAD are inside the orange.

    When the ‘Cuse came down south one year and played my school, our male cheerleaders took an opportunity during a lull in the game to complete surround the Orangeman and then, as one, pig-pile him.

    The orange collapses, in case you were wondering :)

  43. I get an elephant as a mascot, or even a lion… but a tree??

  44. Love this post

  45. Indeed the Stanford Tree is the lamest mascot. But I think most people don’t realize the history involved in mascots. Most of the seemingly lamest mascots have the greatest lore and tradition. In fact I’d much rather be a Biliken (STL Univ than a panther.) Refer to my post here

  46. the last one!!


  47. Hey now, there’s not a damned thing wrong with a good ol’ fashioned cowboy with a chiseled chin. Women still find them adorable. If you don’t believe me, cruise by the romance section at your local Barnes & Noble.

    I should know. I married one. And he’s DEFINITELY NOT GAY. You might’ve been misled by your viewing of Brokeback Mountain.

  48. By the way, my college mascot was a penguin. You might want to add that one to your list.

    Clark Community College in Vancouver, WA

    It always seemed lame to me. I mean, who has ever heard of a penguin kicking anyone’s ass? Now a cowboy… yes. They kick ass.

  49. Great Post! He really left quite an impression. Though as a mascot he failed big time, yet somehow he did upgrade the mascot standards.

  50. Wonderful story !!! This is a good for my experience ,thank you for your sharing.

  51. I know it’s not college but how about when the Dallas Cowboys gave Jessica Simpson a stint as their mascot?

  52. You can also add the Whittier College “Poets”

  53. Love it!

  54. Coming from a big 12 school, its nice to see our rivals are among the ranks of the lamest mascots, and not our Sooner Schooner!

  55. Don’t forget about the VA Tech “Hokies” It’s a damn Turkey! WTH is a Hokie anyway?

  56. Give Raider, Husker and Cowboy a break. They made a pretty damn good video back in the ’90s:

  57. My friends and I have always thought the Stanford tree was the lamest. Seriously…what kind of school chooses a non-representable (I totally made that word up) mascot for a mascot? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a mascot?

  58. i love your post about this info…thx

  59. I think the tree is the lamest mascot ever. Trees are boring and do not belong in basketball. The last thing you want to think about in basket ball is your team being like a tree. In real life trees are still they do not move. Would you want to bet on a team that do not move? Then on top of that the tree looks like a talking Christmas tree.


  60. I’m not Regis.

  61. UCSC- Banana Slug

  62. love your post about this info…thx

  63. Interesting, and amusing. I’m a Penn State alum on the faculty of Oklahoma State, so I got punched twice in your top 5. The Stanford Cardinal tree is ridiculous, but I’m going to vote for the Nittany Lion. As much as I love the Lion, it would be cool to re-do the costume and make it look a bit more like a mountain lion than like a guy wearing an old bath mat.

  64. frank eaton is amazing! great story!!! thanks nwlynch.

  65. This is hilarious. My mascot was the “big red bear” at Cornell. Such a copout of a mascot.

    • What do you mean? I’m a Cornell alum too (we faculty types collect alma maters) and the new bear is a pretty bad-*** costume. It’s certainly better than the terrifying version we had in the ’80s.

  66. Even though this is just an opinion with no correct answer, I found it quite interesting. I went to the University of Oregon and we of course have the best mascot in college being the Duck (who even has his own sportscenter commercial) Again, a very interesting point of view on a rather free and open subject of college mascots

  67. I don’t think the tree is that bad.

  68. ” U.Va.’s real mascot, Cavman — a gay, manscaped Frenchman in an astronaut suit” – HILARIOUS.

    Finally, thank you for noting that Stanford’s tree is totally ridiculous. It’s not because I went to Cal that I feel this way. Their. mascot. is. a. tree.

    Awesome post. So funny.

  69. You’ll love this story about strange college mascots:

  70. Great post! Love hearing about the best mascots. Some people hate them, but I always enjoy what they bring to the game. Pretty athletic what they do out there too! I found a fun ranking of all the mascots of the NBA and decided to search for more on them. That’s how I found yours.

    Thanks for the post! Loved it. Here’s the ranking I stumbled upon if you’re interested:

  71. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your web site, how
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