Ah, college. It was Jimmy Cater who described the American collegiate system as “a place where young minds are molded into the leaders and visionaries of tomorrow, and where you’ll get way fewer blow jobs than your older brother lead you to believe.” Americans have a unique relationship with the University system; aside from being sources of degrees, information, medical research, crippling debt, and social awkwardness, Universities are also a marquee source of entertainment in American society. Without college sports, many Americans would have to resort to reading, or spending time with their families as sources of entertainment. A gloom thought indeed.
Sports are crazy to begin with. They feed into humanity’s natural competitive streak in aggressive, and often violent, ways. So how can college sports be made even nuttier? With insane mascots, that’s how. And insane and nutty don’t mean unusual, like Michigan’s mascot being an animal that hasn’t been spotted in the state but once in that past 200 years, or Ohio State’s mascot literally being a nut, but rather mascots that walk the fine line between weird and disturbing.
1) Wake Forest- The Demon Deacon
Wake Forest is one of the oldest schools in the US, so old in fact that it doesn’t actually call Wake Forest its home anymore. Founded in the 1830s, it began as the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute (no joke) where students spent half the day doing manual labor on the University plantation. This, ehm, questionable aspect of Wake Forest was soon abandoned, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that this guy showed up
That is the Wake Forest Demon Deacon. His name comes from an off the cuff remark made by a writer in the school newspaper during the 1920s, but the Deacon himself didn’t gain corporal form until the 1940s, when a group of Fraternity brothers decided to bring the Deacon to life by using an old tuxedo and top hat they found lying around, because all the best mascots are made of leftover bits of vaguely appropriate clothing. The motorcycle is a more recent development, but at no point has anyone bothered to actually make the Deacon a Demon, which is the only thing this decidedly odd, but lovable, mascot needs to be 100% accurate and 100% terrifying.
2) Texas Christian University- The Horned Frog
As a rule, a mascot should never be anything small enough to be crushed under a boot heel. Texas Christian University clearly did not get that memo. The mascot goes all the way back to the late 1800s, when TCU was known as AddRan University, and the horned frog was still a tiny lizard that shot blood out of its eyes. Oh wait, it totally still does that today.
So the Horned Frog is actually a lizard, but there’s no need to debate the semantics of a creature that squirts blood out of its eyes as a defense mechanism. Given this remarkable ability, the Horned Frog is almost a respectable mascot. But it loses points for not actually being a damn frog, and for surviving on a diet consisting exclusively of ants. You’d think a University in the state of Texas could come up with a more intimidating mascot, but you know what they say about Texas.
3) Western Kentucky University- Big Red
Anyone who doesn’t know Big Red probably hasn’t watched television or been to the Midwest since the 1980s. Despite the name, Big Red is not a regional brand of soda, or a disgusting brand of chewing gum. Rather, Big Red is an amorphous, fuzzy, wide jawed Muppet-like (but in no way an actual Muppet) character, Big Red represents the spirit of Western Kentucky University. And the pinnacle of how nonsensical a mascot can be.
Look at him. All smug and defiant. Like a big… something. Can that shape even exist on this planet? Big Red vaguely resembles a hill, which ties into the actual name of the WKU sports squads, the Hilltoppers. That’s seriously what they’re called. Big Red was invented by a student in 1979, and became immediately popular by both students and non, proving that if you make anything big, fuzzy, and energetic enough, people will love it. Although, if Big Red represents the spirit of WKU, one cannot help but wonder if the student body is composed entirely of overweight sunburn victims who need adderall.
4) UC Santa Cruz- The Banana Slug
Not only is the Banana Slug gross and one of the most ludicrous mascots ever conceived, he’s also a film icon.
Founded in the 1960s, UC Santa Cruz didn’t begin to participate in NCAA athletics until the 1980s. Initially, the University had decided on a Sea Lion as its mascot. Students hated this, and instead voted to adopt the Banana Slug, a move which was immediately rejected by the University, who contended that it was up to athletes to decide if the mascot would change.
Santa Cruz athletes then decided that a Banana Slug was somehow a better mascot than a Sea Lion, and the administration was forced to cave.
Which is great, because depriving the world of this awesomely weird mascot ever contrived by a group of stoners.
5) Dartmouth College- Keggy the Keg
Dartmouth is one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the world. One of only nine Universities founded before the American Revolution, Dartmouth picked up the nickname “the Indians” for its athletic programs, a name deemed insensitive and in conflict with the stated academic goals of theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee sorry I dozed off trying to finish typing that sentence. Anyways, in the 1970s, the Indian mascot was banned, causing Dartmouth’s student comedy newspaper The Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern to issue a timely response just 30 years later, nominating Keggy the Keg as the new Dartmouth mascot.
For obvious reasons, Keggy has not been embraced by Dartmouth administrators, despite his beloved status among the student body. Despite his status as an “unofficial” mascot, Keggy has risen to prominence in the mascot community (that’s a thing, right?). And, perhaps most remarkably, the forward thinkers at this Ivy League institution broke the oft-discussed, but never addressed, glass ceiling for College Mascots based on the consumption of alcohol.
Latest posts by Brian Young (see all)
- Farm Club Five: 5 Reasons Why Super Bowl XLVII is Going to Suck - January 31, 2013
- 5 Most Ridiculous College Mascots (And Their Ridiculous Origins) - November 9, 2012
- Marcus Lattimore Suffers Brutal Injury: GIFs Inside - October 28, 2012
- Detroit Tigers Fans: Don’t Blame Jose Valverde for Your Sins - October 11, 2012