Traditionally, a college mascot is conceptualized as a physical manifestation of the virtues of the team (or teams) it represents. They are present during games and inter-school gatherings in order to celebrate the home team and at the same time intimidate the opponent. Most college mascots fit the bill. However, there are those that are just too off-kilter that they end up as curiosities themselves and at least online, more famous than the teams that they represent. Whether tough, comical, or sometimes frightening college mascots are meant to make an impression, and some of them make a lasting one. Here are some of the curioser (and curioser) ones that have the makings of being the worst college mascots.
TCU Athletics Department’s Superfrog was born in 1979 and was once lauded as “the nation’s number one mascot by ESPN. Superfrog looks friendly enough at this angle, but you have to see him in a different light with all those spiky amphibious barbs. How fierce they look in certain angles! Superfrog is a regular guest/performer in sports events not just in TCU but in the Dallas/Forth Worth area as well.
9. Artie the Artichoke
This Artichoke won a 1970s circa mascot competition over two other contenders – The Rutabaga and The Scoundrel. Scottsdale Community College had since embraced Artie, The Artichoke as its official mascot. A few decades ago, it didn’t really make sense to choose an artichoke since this vegetable is not really fearsome in any way. But now that plants are weaponized against zombies, it makes sense to fear Artie more than a little bit.
This wheatshocker sure looks mean, what with that perpetual scowl and shock of wheat-like hair. Anyone wearing the wrong school colors faced with a head that big (not to mention ugly) would no doubt take a step back. WuShock (that’s his name) had been inciting fear in the hearts of Wichita State University competitors since the Forties.
7. Big Red
The fear would probably be to drown in folds of red fur and get lost in all that lack of definition. Big Red, also born in 1979, is Western Kentucky University’s blob of a mascot. Apparently, Big Red’s hill-shaped head (yes, that’s what it is) is a homage to the location of the school (on top of a hill) and the nickname of the much-loved sports teams, the Hilltoppers. Big Red has been to a number of Battle of the Mascots as was even in a tension filled controversy involving an Italian copycat.
Cayenne is the red hot mascot of the Ragin’ Cajuns, the athletic teams of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly the University of Southwestern Louisiana). Cayenne is said to be the embodiment of the spirit of the region of Acadania and with that being said, anyone who had experienced the raging heat of a cayenne pepper on the tongue would know well to not mess with this fourth mascot of UL, born in 2000. And he looks mean enough for a chilli pepper.
5. Speedy the Geoduck
Speedy was born in 2006 and despite what the name suggests, he is not a kind of duck. Rather, a geoduck is a saltwater clam with a very large shell and a siphon that extends outward from the body. If you search for pictures of geoducks from the National Geographic or Discovery Channel websites, there’s nothing very frightening about them. Saltwater clams are generally benign in both appearance and attitude. However, Speedy’s rather strange morphology could induce a certain level of fear. Fear of the unknown is probably what first timers feel when then meet the mascot of Evergreen State.
4. The Tree
Stanford University’s Ivy League reputation has been tarnished by this rather clumsy-looking tree. Unlike the walking and talking “trees” of Middle-Earth who when wronged could be very fearsome indeed, what’s frightening about this tree is that it is allowed to exist at all. We equally welcome figures inspired by Earth’s diverse and wonderful flora and fauna and we have nothing against trees as mascots. But, Stanford could have done much better in the execution (and the conceptualization as well).
3. Fighting Pickles
Just recently, in 2010, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts showcased the winner of its “create a mascot” contest. This winning fighting pickle was the entry of a sophomore student of costume design. This girl must be having food-related nightmares when she created this one.
2. Purple Cow
The reason for the purple and gold cow is that Williams College’s school colors happen to be purple and gold. There’s something unnatural about a purple cow in the same way that a purple dinosaur gives some people the creeps. The sentiment was very succintly captured in four lines published in a local magazine: “I never saw a purple cow/ I never hope to see one/ But I can tell you, anyhow/I’d rather see than be one!”
1. Brutus the Buckeye
Ohio State University’s Brutus Buckeye has held many opponent teams in fear of what that Ohio buckeye nut head could do to them should it lose its mind and suddenly go berserk. Surely their football helmets won’t stand a chance.
These mascots are the pride and joy of the colleges they represent. No matter how curious their choices are for us, and no matter if other people consider them as the worst college mascots, we have to recognize the fact that they have chosen these mascots to represent and carry the name of their school. And so let’s give them the necessary amoung of respect (and fear).