The 10 Greatest "Live" Mascots in College Football
They're living, breathing creatures. But, there's something different about these animals.
It's true, many mascots at college football games are students dressed in furry costumes that are there to get the crowd fired up by all of their antics.
However, there are a few "live" mascots that by their mere presence bring the best out of all college football fans alike. Not only are they revered by the school's faithful, but they are beloved and mourned when they pass on.
In the next 10 slides, I will count down the top 10 "live" college mascots. Some will say that being from the South, I might show bias. Instead, I've looked into the history and looked at what each mascot means to their school and come up with my top 10.
I want to hear your opinion after seeing my top 10. Did I miss one or two? Am I smoking something by my No. 8 not being my No. 1? Is there something that needs to be added to a particular mascot? Let me know.
10. Traveler (University of Southern California)
WIth a regal Trojan warrior riding atop, this white stallion is a main stay for USC.
Making its first appearance against Georgia Tech in a game in 1961, the Traveler lineage has been the symbol of the Trojans that have won seven national titles, including one the year after the introduction of the mascot.
With its color always remaining pure white, no matter the breed, Traveler gallops around the Coliseum every time the Trojans score.
9. Handsome Dan (Yale)
I'm hard-pressed to not put in the first live mascot in America. The Handsome Dan lineage began strolling the sidelines of Yale in 1889. Although there was a 35-year break in between Handsome Dan I and II, the tradition carried on in this Ivy League School.
So, what kind of bulldog is chosen to be the next Handsome Dan upon retirement or death? Of course, one that barks at the color of crimson, the same color Yale's nemesis Harvard wears as their main color.
Currently, Yale is on its 16th version of Handsome Dan with the 13th Handsome Dan having the longest reign, which was 11 years.
8. Rameses (University of North Carolina)
The big horned mascot of the Tar Heels, Rameses attends all Carolina home football games with blue horns. The story goes that back in 1924, after the first ram was purchased by the school, the Tar Heels played powerhouse VMI.
Battling to a scoreless tie through the first three quarters, Carolina had a chance to take the lead with a field goal. Before taking the field, Carolina kicker Bunn Hackney stopped to rub Rameses' head for good luck.
Seconds later, Hackney's 30-yard drop kick went through the goal posts, propelling the Tar Heels to the 3-0 win. Needless to say, Rameses was there to stay.
7. Raider, Ranger II and General Scott, Mules (West Point Military Academy - Army)
Originally countered to the Navy's goats in 1899, the U.S. Military Academy didn't officially adopt a mascot until 1936.
With the first mule being named Mr. Jackson, other names (funny and not so funny) have been present on campus, including Poncho, aka "Skippy," and Buckshot, which had two distinctions of being the only female mule to serve as Army's mascot and the only mule donated to the USMA by the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Currently, Raider, Ranger II and General Scott all serve as the mascots for the school.
6. Smokey (University of Tennessee)
The Bluetick Coonhound has been used on Rocky Top since 1953. When the school was picking between hounds to be the mascot that year, Smokey was the last one introduced.
When his name was called out, he barked. When the students cheered, he howled. It was then he was picked as Tennessee’s mascot.
Incidents involving the hound include being stolen by Kentucky students in 1955, an incident with Baylor’s live bear in 1957, and Smokey was the first mascot to be placed on the Vols’ injury report due to heat exhaustion in 1991.
5. War Eagle (Auburn University)
According to legend, the War Eagle story dates back to the Civil War. According to the legend, a soldier from Alabama was the sole Confederate survivor of a bloody battle. Stumbling across the battlefield, he came across a wounded young eagle.
The bird was cared for and nursed back to health by the soldier. Several years later the soldier, a former Auburn student, returned to college as a faculty member, bringing the bird with him.
On the day of Auburn's first football game in 1892 against Georgia, the aged eagle broke away from his master during the game and began to circle the field, exciting the fans.
But at the end of the game, with Auburn victorious, the eagle fell to the ground and died. Although false, the tale helped begin the school’s association with War Eagle.
4. Bevo (University of Texas)
The longhorn steer with burnt orange coloring, UT’s mascot has been called the “toughest looking mascot in sports.” Placed in the end zone of all home games and some road games, Bevo looks the part, but is considered a very docile animal by its handlers.
The origin of the name is disputed as students at Texas A&M have one story, while UT students have another.
3. Mike The Tiger (Louisiana State University)
His cage on wheels is placed right by the locker room for visitors to Death Valley so that the opposing players have to go by his cage. Although tradition calls for a pure-Bengal tiger, the last two Mikes have been mixed breeds.
Estimated to top out at more the 700 lbs., Mike VI is predicted to be the largest LSU mascot ever.
2. Ralphie (University of Colorado)
Often mislabeled as a male, Ralphie runs around in a horse-shoe formation prior to each half at Folsom Field. The tradition of this mascot is so big, that even some opposing teams invite the University of Colorado to bring her to away games to run the field.
Uga (University of Georgia)
What other mascot has tried to take a bite out of an opposing team’s player? Auburn’s Robert Baker found out the hard way in a game in 1996. Uga is also the only college mascot to be invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Now on Uga VII, the lore of the school’s beloved mascot continues. The most recent changing of the guard was in 2008 when Uga VI died of congestive heart failure.
Uga VII took over and the Dawgs won in his first game as mascot. All seven Uga's have come from the same bloodline of Uga I, which pure white English bulldog being the breed.
When Ugas do pass on, they are the only college mascots buried within the confines of the stadium. And, before each game, flowers are placed at each of their graves.