Ranking the Cutest Mascots in Sports
Not all mascots are created equal. Some are just inherently more adorable than others. Some universities go for adorable, some go for fearsome and others go for complete absurdity—I'm looking at you: UC Santa Cruz, the fightin' Banana Slugs.
Now, I enjoy the goofballs dressed up in furry costumes as much as the next person, but they aren't nearly as cute as some of the live animal mascots. Although, they do tend to be more entertaining and far less controversial.
But still...not as cute. Let's take a look at 25 of the cutest live animal mascots in college sports.
25. Mach 1, Air Force Academy
The first cadets to enter the Air Force Academy in 1959 chose the falcon to be their mascot. "Mach 1" was the name of the very first live falcon mascot and, while the official name of the mascot remains the same, each falcon receives an individual name by falconers.
The current mascot is a female white phase gyrfalcon named Aurora. She was donated to the Academy by a man from Wyoming.
24. Handsome Dan XVII, Yale
If you aren't up on your Roman numerals, this incarnation of Yale's Handsome Dan is the 17th. Handsome Dan originated in the 1890's by a student from Victorian England who was attending the Ivy League institution at the time.
Yale was actually the very first university in the United States to adopt a mascot, so you have Handsome Dan to thank for the countless other Bulldog mascots around the country.
23. Ranger III and Stryker, Army
West Point's previous Army Mule mascots, Raider and Ranger II, were retired at a ceremony in December 2011. The pair had spent years leading the cadets onto the field at football games, carrying flats and interacting with fans.
Ranger III and Stryker were announced as their successors; the pair had spent almost four years training and being conditioned for their assignment with the U.S. Military Academy.
22. Scotty, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon finally adopted an official mascot in 2007, the Scottish Terrier. Initially they just went with the standard goofy dude in a furry costume, but in spring of 2008 they announced a new live mascot would be matriculating at CMU by fall of that year.
Legendary comedian Bill Cosby spoke at commencement in 2007 and decided to provide the mascot to the university as a gift a year later. The mascot's official name is "Scotty," but the live dog's name is Maggie—after Andrew Carnegie's mother.
21. Renegade, Florida State University
Florida Sate's Renegade is definitely the more popular mascot, at least outside of Tallahassee. I'm not going to get into the whole Chief Osceola thing but, needless to say, he's considered a bit culturally insensitive to a great number of people.
Renegade and Chief Osceola have been the Seminole's official mascots since 1978. The current Renegade—Renegade V—has served since 2003.
20. CAM the Ram, Colorado State University
CAM the Ram is Colorado State University's live Rambouillet sheep mascot. CAM has been the mascot since 1946, he got his name from an alum who won a contest that year. His name is the initials of the school name at the time: Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College.
The most recent CAM retired at the end of the 2011 college football season at the tender age of seven, the average lifespan for the animal is just eight years. The new CAM will be introduced at the first home game of the 2012 college football season.
19. Bully, Mississippi State
Bully is the live mascot of Mississippi State University. Initially it was Mississippi A&M and they were called the Aggies, but in 1935 they adopted the bulldog as their official mascot.
The very first Bully died tragically young in 1935, struck down in his prime by a campus bus. Probably because he was allowed to roam free around campus.
People took the news extremely hard. Bully I was mourned for day, laid in state on campus in a glass coffin. Eventually a half-mile funeral procession, along with the university marching band and three ROTC battalions, accompanied Bully to his final resting place—buried under the bench at the 50-yard line.
18. Leo III and Una, University of North Alabama
The University of Northern Alabama brags on its website that they are the only school in the country to have a live lion mascot living on campus. They also capitalized "Lion," which is completely irrelevant, but it made me laugh and laugh.
The original Leo and Leo II both only lived to be about 11-years-old. The average lifespan of a lion in captivity is usually double (even triple) that time, so it makes you wonder about the level of care they're receiving.
Leo III and Una are brother and sister who have been living on campus since 2002. Enjoy them while you can, history says they'll be dead in 2013.
17. Reveille VIII, Texas A&M
Reveille VIII, a pure bred Rough Collie, is the official mascot of Texas A&M. The original "Rev" was actually a mixed-breed dog that was adopted in 1931. Reveille III was the first Rough Collie to be introduced as mascot, and they've been Collies ever since.
According to Texas A&M's website, Rev is treated like a queen on campus and those in her presence are often rewarded…or punished…depending on the situation.
Reveille Traditions: If she barks in class it means she is bored and the professor should dismiss the class. Also, if she decides to sleep on a cadets bed, the cadet has to sleep on the floor or find somewhere else to sleep. Needless to say, she is treated with the utmost respect across campus.
16. Bevo XIV, University of Texas
Bevo, a Texas Longhorn steer, has been the official mascot of the University of Texas since 1916. Though, the Longhorn wasn't the original mascot in Austin. The first mascot was actually a Pit Bull that went by the very unimpressive name "Pig."
The very first Bevo was donated to UT by alum Stephen Pinckney in 1916 and cost $124. Apparently there have been some Bevos with behavioral issues over the years, although recent Bevos have been less problematic. According to the always reliable Wikipedia:
Counting the currently serving mascot, there have been fourteen Bevos to date. Bevo I was originally named "Bo" but came to be called Bevo during his service. Bevo II once charged a SMU cheerleader, who had to defend himself with his megaphone. Bevo III escaped from his enclosure and ran amok across campus for 2 days. Bevo IV once attacked a parked car, while Bevo V broke loose and scattered the Baylor band. More recent Bevos have had a more peaceful tenure.
15. Rameses XVIII, University of North Carolina
This is actually a little bit of a downer, but UNC's beloved Rameses XVIII tragically died of natural causes at a family farm in February 2012. The owner said the eight-year-old ram died peacefully and was found laying on his side in a field where he grazes. RIP Rameses.
Not to worry though, UNC officials didn't waste any time in finding a new mascot. A two-year-old ram named Bam Bam that lives on the same farm as Rameses once did has been tapped to take his place at the big show. Bam Bam will make his debut at the first football home game of the 2012 season.
The king is dead, long live the king.
14. War Eagle VII, Auburn University
The War Eagle isn't the official mascot of Auburn, they prefer a goofy dude dressed in a goofy tiger costume instead. War Eagle is a battle cry at home football games and the title of the university's fight song. It's confusing unless you know an Auburn alum who never shuts up about it.
Even though it's not the official mascot, Auburn does have a falcon named War Eagle that soars around the stadium in majestic pregame flights. War Eagle VIII, known as "Spirit," narrowly escaped injury after crashing into a window in September 2011.
13. Dubs, University of Washington
In April 2010, the University of Washington mascot "Dubs, " (then) a one-year-old Alaskan Malamute, was crowned the champion of the 2010 NCAA Mascot Tournament. Dubs narrowly beat out the very adorable Blitz II from Wofford.
Dubs definitely earned the top honors—dude is one of the busiest mascots in the business. Not only does he attend most sporting events and fire up the hometown crowds, Dubs also has his very own blog and Facebook page.
Dubs is Washington's 13th live mascot and is actually cared for by a team of seven students who share the dog-owner responsibilities.
12. Tusk III, University of Arkansas
If you've seen a recent picture of Arkansas' mascot Tusk, you probably know he doesn't look quite like this anymore. Imagine this baby version of Tusk mated with a pickup truck and that's kind of what he looks like now.
Tusk is a wild hog, which look like barroom brawler versions of farm pigs—longer dark hair, scruffy, dirty and kind of agitated. They're actually pretty amazing and I really want one as a pet because I like trouble-making agitators.
Also, baby tusk is one of the cutest thing on the planet!
11. Ralphie V , University of Colorado
If you've ever seen the pregame running of Ralphie the buffalo at a University of Colorado football game, you've probably wondered what they're smoking down in Boulder. It's one of the most uncontrollable spectacles in college sports and the temperamental Ralphie routinely takes down her handlers during her run.
CU-Boulder has been known as the Buffaloes since it was chosen via a 1934 contest in the school newspaper. Although Ralphie is a boys name, all of the mascots have been female because they are smaller than males and less aggressive.
I can't even imagine what that pregame run would look like with a sexually-mature male buffalo…but I know it wouldn't end well.
10. Sir Big Spur III, University of South Carolina
The University of South Carolina's mascot Cocky is one of the most entertaining in college sports, but Cocky doesn't even come close to matching the cuteness and ridiculous of their live mascot, Sir Big Spur. Even his name is amazing.
Sir Big Spur's owners, Ron Albertelli and Mary Snelling, named him after the original gamecock mascot, Big Spur. The bird narrowly dodged a bullet in the naming department—they actually considered naming him "Cocky Doodle Lou." Phew.
The two have been bringing a rooster to USC games for about 15 years and have apparently earned the trust of fans. A widow once asked them to scatter her husbands ashes on the football field for her.
9. Blue II, Butler University
Butler's mascot Blue II was actually diagnosed with pneumonia in June 2012. Blue (actually, his personal assistant) announced via Twitter that he was being treated with infusions to treat his illness in early June. There were no updates after that, but no news is probably good news in this case.
Because Bulldogs have the lifespan of a fruit fly, his successor Blue III has already been chosen and has been making all mascot-related appearances this summer. Let's hope Blue II is back in business this fall and conducting interviews, just like he's done in the past.
8. Mike the Tiger, Louisiana State University
Mike the Tiger is the official mascot of LSU. The current mascot is Mike VI, a Bengali-Siberian hybrid tiger, who has been the mascot since 2007. He took over for Mike V who had served as the mascot for an impressive 17 years—the second longest tenure of LSU's six mascots.
Because of the tiger's critically endangered status around the world, there are a lot of objections to LSU's keeping of a live tiger on campus. But LSU contends that their tiger's live an average of 15 years, which is more than twice the lifespan of a tiger in the wild.
Mike VI was the first tiger to be donated to the university by a carnivore rescue facility and in 2005, the university finished a new $3 million habitat for him.
7. Smokey, University of Tennessee
Smokey, a Bluetick Coonhound, has been the mascot of the Tennessee Vols since 1953. Their very first mascot was named "Blue Smokey," although he only served as mascot for one year. Smokey II was the problem child of the group—he was stolen by Kentucky students in 1955 and was involved in an altercation with the Baylor Bear at the 1957 Sugar Bowl.
The current mascot is Smokey IV, who has been the active mascot since 2004. He's been far less of a trouble maker than some of his predecessors, but he did suffer a torn ACL at a football game in September 2011. Football is a dangerous sport, even for dogs.
6. Traveler VII, University of Southern California
USC's mascot is a pure white horse named Traveler who is ridden around the Coliseum by a goofy dude dressed as a Trojan warrior. The current Traveler (VII) took over for his predecessor in 2003 and will be in place for the foreseeable future.
Traveler has been a variety of horse breeds over the years. Earlier on he was a Tennessee Walking horse, an Arabian horse and then mixed breeds. He's currently an Andalusian horse.
5. Jonathan the Husky, University of Connecticut
The UConn mascot Jonathan the Husky is named after Jonathan Trumbull, the Governor of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. The current Jonathan (XII) is a solid white Husky that has been the mascot since 2001.
In addition to attending UConn football and basketball games, Jonathan XII also reps the university in an animal-therapy program that helps children and the elderly.
4. Judge Joy and Judge Lady, Baylor University
Baylor adopted the bear as its official nickname in 1914, but it wasn't until later in the 1920's that the university actually decided to enslave a real bear. Okay, maybe enslave is a little hyperbolic, but the treatment of bears in captivity really left a lot to be desired until recent years.
The current mascots, Judge Joy and Judge Lady, are treated like royalty down in Texas. They have their very own bear habitat right on campus, which is classified as a Class C Exhibitor Zoo and is licensed to hold up to three bears.
I'm not really in favor of keeping these kinds of animals in captivity on college campuses, but at least they look pretty happy and extremely adorable.
3. Peruna IX, Southern Methodist University
Pretty Peruna is the mascot for Southern Methodist University. This black shetland pony is the official pony of the "Pony Express" and has been at attendance at every SMU home football game for over 70 years.
Peruna I made his first appearance at a home game against Texas A&M in 1932. Unfortunately his days in the spotlight were short lived. Poor Peruna 1 was struck by a speeding jagoff in October 1934.
The current Peruna (IX) took over for his predecessor in October 2011.
2. Blitz, Wofford College
Blitz the Boston Terrier debuted as Wofford's mascot in September 2003. Blitz I served as mascot until October 2008, before passing away just two days prior to the Homecoming game after having surgery to remove an abdominal mass the day before.
Blitz II, called "Ayeryel" off the field, was the substitute mascot for Blitz I and after he died was named the interim mascot for the rest of the 2008 season. Ayeryel became the official mascot before the start of the 2009 football season.
1. Uga, University of Georgia
Georgia's adorable mascot Uga has had a bad run of luck, health wise, in recent years. Ugas I-VI all lived to be nearly a decade, or longer, while Ugas VII-VIII barely made it to age two. Uga VII died of heart failure in October 2009 and Uga VIII died of lymphoma in February 2011.
Hopefully Uga IX, who has been narrowed down to a few finalists and will debut this fall, has a better go of it and a much longer and livelier tenure as UGA's mascot.
Sickly or not, Uga is hands-down the most adorable mascot in all of college sports!