Yesterday was a big day in Cowtown, as it was opening day for Buckeye football season. If you don't live here, the only way I can describe this to you is, from now on it's like March in Cabo San Lucas every single weekend. With 10 times the violence and 50 times the mace. The Buckeyes win and everyone sets their own couches on fire in the middle of the street. The Buckeyes lose and you may find your car resting on it's roof the morning after. In other words, it doesn't matter what the result of the game is—if it's football Saturday, your life and property are in imminent danger.
While I don't give a shit one way or another about OSU sports, I do rather enjoy the mascot: Brutus Buckeye. He's got a giant, poisonous nut for a head! And he can do a headstand and spell out O-H-I-O with his legs, which is completely awesome.
I find mascots in general endlessly fascinating and entertaining. Check out that picture above—that's not a furries convention. This was taken at the induction ceremony for the Mascot Hall of Fame. You heard me. If you think that's crazy talk, check this out: the campaign to end violence against mascots (I think it's supposed to actually be serious). Come on, now! Violence against mascots is usually the best part of the whole sports experience, including the actual game. If someone sunk a full-court hail mary shot during the same game that a mascot fell down while trying to lead the crowd in an en masse chicken dance, the first thing I'd tell my friends later is "Slider wiped out!"
Really bad mascots are also amusing. I thought it might be fun to try to find the dumbest and most inexplicable and give out awards to the worst offenders. Feel free to cast your own votes; there's got to be more wonderfully horrendous ones out there that I overlooked.
• Least Intimidating •
-"Lil' Red" (University of Nebraska–Lincoln), an inflatable Campbell's Soup Kid in red overalls
-Violets (New York University), a purple transformer-looking thing
-"Otto the Orange" (Syracuse), literally an orange with arms and legs, wearing a baseball cap
-"Scrappy" (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga), a mockingbird wearing a train-conductor's outfit (get it? Chattanooga Choo-Choo?)
-"Sebastian the Ibis" (University of Miami), a duck wearing a sailor hat
WINNER: "WuShock" (Wichita State University), an anthropomorphic "shock" of wheat. This thing could sweep a couple other awards including Worst Name and Worst Costume. Look at it! It's a yellow Muppet of Alec Baldwin with a fucking wheat grass skirt and wheat sprouting out of his big ridiculous head. What exactly is this mascot going to do to scare the opponent? Wave in the wind? Turn into rice? Get run over by a tractor?
• Geekiest •
-Student Princes (Heidelberg College)
-Poets (Whittier College), a colonial guy with a book and a pen
-Penmen (Southern New Hampshire University)
WINNER: Vulcans (California University of Pennsylvania) Trekkies always win out in the geek department. Imagine the catcalls at those games: "Nerve pinch the Vulcans!"
• Dumbest "Fighting" Mascot •
-Fighting Okra (Delta State University); this nickname was given to the team from fans bored with the "Statesmen" mascot
-Fighting Artichokes (Scottsdale CC)
-Battling Bishops (Ohio Wesleyan)
-Fighting Missionaries (Whitman College)
-Fighting Gobblers (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
WINNER: Fighting Banana Slugs (University of California—Santa Cruz) Can you fight AND be a slug?
• Most Ridiculous Animal Mascot •
-"Petey the Stormy Petrel" (Oglethorpe University); it's a seabird...I didn't know either
-Varmits (Southern Arkansas University Tech)
-Super Bees (University of Baltimore)
WINNER: Geoducks (Evergreen State College), a type of clam which, supposedly, doesn't clamp shut when danger appears
• Weirdest •
-Vixens (Sweet Briar College) , the mascot of an all-girls christian college
-"Thresher" (Bethel College), a threshing stone, whatever that is
-Lord Jeffs (Amherst); named after the guy who exercised germ warfare against Native Americans by giving them blankets coated with smallpox
-Blue Hose (Presbyterian College), formerly the Blue Stockings; basically now the Blue Pantyhose
WINNER: "Gompei" (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), the bronzed head of a dead goat. Maybe they could put wheels on it and race it against the ram's head snuff mull.
• Worst Name •
-Ichabods (Washburn University); this school is not in New York, so I have no idea what this name means
-"Knightro" (University of Central Florida), the golden knight
-Claim Jumpers (Columbia College-Hollywood)
-Lumberjills (Northland College), counterpart to the men's teams' LumberJACKS. Ha!
WINNER: Nads (Rhode Island School of Design); the cheerleaders are nicknamed the "Jockstraps" because they support the Nads—criminy
• Dumbest Costume •
-"Keggy the Keg" (Dartmouth), an unofficial mascot that irritates the living crap out of people on the HOME bench
-"Puckman" (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), a stupid walking hockey puck
–"The Troll" (Trinity Christian College), named for TRinity cOLLege (lame), this dumpy ogre represents a school that operates under the slogan "Momentum for Life"
WINNER: "The Stanford Tree" (Stanford University), a dancing pine tree that looks more like a melting garbage bag with a Gacy-like, clownish smiley face. This makes you wish California would go a little lax with the logging regulations.
So who are the best mascots? Well, Freddie and Freida Falcon (Bowling Green State University), of course...I'm biased; that's my alma mater. I also think the Michigan State Spartan costume is frigging hilarious. But the very best mascots in the whole wide world aren't college mascots at all—it's the Racing Sausages! Representing the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, the Hot Dog, Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, and German Bratwurst, and with their gigantic heads and stereotypical appearances (leiterhosen!), compete in a race during the seventh inning stretch of each home game. The Sausages made headlines a couple of years ago when one of the players tapped the Polish Sausage as he was running by and sent him (and the chick inside the costume) sprawling across the field, taking the Italian Sausage down with him. Everyone got all upset about it and, to my delight, the footage was run over and over on the news—it's hilarious! OK, OK, the chick didn't get hurt or anything, and in fact she thought it was funny, so it's OK for us to laugh. Sadly, I couldn't find the footage of this wipeout, but I found this footage, which is just as hilarious. Encased meats with little arms and legs flailing—does it get any better?