A school’s mascot is a symbol of pride and unity that students can rally behind. When the mascot takes field get the crowd cheering, students and alumni feel a sense of family as they are spurred to shout for their team to win. It makes sense that the athletic supporters get revved up by a bulldog or a bear, but there are some mascots that just make you scratch your head and think, “why”. From giant vegetables and crustaceans to human genitalia, these have over time become an accepted part of their university’s culture. This list presents ten US college mascots that fall into the category of just plain strange.
10. Sammy the Banana Slug (University of California-Santa Cruz)
The official mascot of UC Santa Cruz, Sammy is a representation of a banana slug (a yellow mollusk which can be found in the nearby redwood forests). It’s said that the laid-back student body of the school disapproved of the fanatical athletic programs at other schools, so they chose a distinctively casual mascot. Of course, we’re talking about a campus that’s known for smoking pot and streaking across school grounds. In 1980, the mascot was changed to a sea lion, but Sammy was voted back following an election in 1986. Over time, the schools administrators have come to embrace the character as much as the students, and it’s even rumored that one high-ranking official at UC Santa Cruz has portrayed Sammy at sporting events. In 1992, the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug was named the top mascot by both the National Directory of College Athletics and Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2004, Reader’s Digest also presented Sammy the Slug with similar honors.
9. Scrotie (Rhode Island School of Design)
Without a doubt, one of the strangest college sports mascots has to be Scrotie, the unofficial mascot of the Rhode Island School of Design. The costume is unique and at the same time horrific, looking exactly like a giant penis wearing a red cape with the scrotum hanging beneath. The school’s basketball team is known as the Balls, and their slogan is, “When the heat is on, the Balls stick together.” The hockey team is called the Nads, and their cheer is “Go Nads!” The cheerleaders for the Nads are commonly known as the “Jockstraps” (since they support the Nads). The yearly hockey game with rival college Cooper Union is known as the “Supportive Cup.” Scrotie was created to cheer on the Nads in 2001. Despite his status as an unofficial mascot, he’s present at all the games and widely accepted by the student body. Of course, no self-respecting administration could actually approve such silliness.
8. Billiken (St. Louis University)
It kind of looks like a rejected puppet for a movie Gremlins. The history of Saint Louis University’s mascot — and how it became affiliated with SLU — remains debatable to this day. Several details seem to be certain. Everyone agrees that the Billiken is a good-luck figure who represents “things as they ought to be.” The designer of the Billiken also seems to be fact. Florence Pretz, a Missouri art teacher and illustrator, patented her “design for an image” of the creature in 1908.
7. Brutus the Buckeye (Ohio State)
Brutus Buckeye is the athletics mascot of The Ohio State University. Brutus is a student dressed in Buckeye colors with a headpiece resembling an Ohio Buckeye nut. Brutus has appeared since 1965, with periodic updates to design and wardrobe. As a member of the cheerleading team Brutus Buckeye travels to many athletic and non-athletic events around TheOhio State University and makes appearances around Columbus.
6. Boll Weevils (University of Arkansas)
At six millimeters long, not many schools boast a mascot smaller than that of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Still, despite its diminutive size, the boll weevil is a formidable opponent — after all, it is the most destructive cotton pest in the United States. With that in mind, it is curious why men’s athletics at Monticello are represented by the Boll Weevils whereas the women are known as the “Cotton Blossoms.”
5. Fighting Pickles (North Carolina School of the Arts)
The origin of the pickle is a bit unclear. The NCSA student handbook offers two possible explanations. First, the pickle may be a tribute to a pickle company that used to donate money to the school. Second, it may be a form of protest to the school’s 1972 search for a “militaristic” school mascot name. That didn’t go over so well in the Vietnam era, so the end result was a protest pickle.
4. Super Frog the Horned Frog (Texas Christian University)
TCU has been using the horned toad as a mascot since 1897. The horned toad might sound like a strange choice of a mascot, but it’s the state reptile of Texas, and Native Americans in the Southwest believed this five inch long frog had ancient powers. The mascot’s name used to be Addy the All-American Frog, but became Super Frog in 1979.
3. The Fighting Okra (Delta State University)
Ah, another vegetable mascot, and one that’s appropriate for a Mississippi school! There’s no political impetus behind this name. People just got bored with the previous name, the Statesmen, and since the team uniforms are mostly green, they found the name of something both green and Southern.
2. Geoducks (Evergreen State)
Pronounced “gooey duck”, the geoduck isn’t a waterfowl, as you might suspect, but a mollusk. It’s native to the Pacific Northwest, which explains why the college chose it as a mascot. Geoduck – looks way too much like a penis-shaped saltwater clam.
1. Gaylord the Camel (Campbell University)
A camel, ok – makes sense; Cambell Camels has a certain ring to it. But then how does the symbol for driving spirit and cheers for sports events get named Gaylord (according to US Census, this name was popular from 1880-1930)? C’mon people! Well, it seems that the original mascots of this school were the Hornets, but was changed in 1934, a play on founder James Archibald Campbell’s name.
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