The things that make college basketball so special are the pageantry, school pride, raucous crowds and captivating nature of the NCAA tournament.
And then there are the mascots.
Sarcasm aside, all mascots are not created equal. Read on to see some of the most ridiculous mascots in college basketball, keeping in mind that ridiculous doesn’t always necessarily mean bad.
I’ll take nightmare-inducing college basketball mascots for $200, Trebek.
The Iona Gael is a spunky character that personifies strength, according to the school’s athletic department. It is supposed to represent the Irish-Gaelic tradition of Iona.
In reality, he looks like Abraham Lincoln’s evil twin brother.
While the nation was subjected to 10,000 puns on the Wichita State basketball team “shocking” the nation by reaching the Final Four in March, we also got the privilege of seeing the most terrifying piece of wheat in the country for an entire month.
Perhaps nothing summarizes the suspension of reality we have when it comes to sports better than the fact that nobody really bats an eye at a steroid-addled piece of wheat running along the sidelines during Shocker games.
Lil’ Red may not be the primary mascot for University of Nebraska sporting events, but he sure is the most entertaining one.
It’s as if this giant balloon shaped like a man (or is it a boy?) escaped from a used car salesman’s fever dream to invade Cornhusker basketball games. Lil’ Red may be ridiculous, but he is also very entertaining.
In case you were wondering what a Western Kentucky Hilltopper looks like, it is apparently an amorphous red blob.
Big Red is one of the more beloved mascots in the country and has appeared on a number of ESPN’s popular SportsCenter commercials. While he may be popular and elicit plenty of laughs, that doesn’t change the fact that Big Red is certainly ridiculous.
If Western Kentucky’s Big Red has a brother somewhere, it is the Blue Blob at Xavier.
While the Musketeers’ main mascot is—you guessed it—a Musketeer, their secondary one is far more ridiculous. The Blue Blob is basically Grover from Sesame Street on some type of acid trip.
Stetson University has had a number of mascots throughout its history, but to be fair, the nickname Hatters doesn’t lend itself as easily to a mascot as Tigers or Bears do.
That being said, the old look of a giant hat with legs—with giant curled eyelashes to match—was ridiculous to say the least. Even Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, wild orange hair and all, thinks this is a strange look for a mascot.
But at least the cheerleaders seemed to like it.
There are people in this world who fear spicy food. Chances are they were exposed to the mascot Cayenne at an early age.
Louisiana Lafayette has one of the best nicknames in all of college sports, but its mascot is as close to intimidating as a vegetable can be (or are red peppers fruit?). And yes, an attempt at making a pepper intimidating counts as ridiculous.
You may not have heard of Evergreen State College, but I can assure you it has a basketball team. But more importantly, it has one of the most ridiculous mascots in all of sports, and that includes the strange excuses for mascots the Olympics trot out every two years.
The ever-credible Wikipedia defines a Geoduck as a large, edible saltwater clam that may have gotten its name from the Native American word meaning “dig deep.”
We’ll let Sigmund Freud tell you what the mascot version looks like.
What is a boll weevil, you ask?
Well, it is a beetle that feeds on cotton. That’s right, the University of Arkansas at Monticello decided to go with a nickname after a cotton-eating bug.
If there is an application process for ridiculous mascots, the Boll Weevil has nothing to worry about.
Basketball is a fast-paced game that requires elite athleticism and quickness to excel at the top level. Actually, the majority of collegiate sports are.
Naturally, the University of California Santa Cruz decided that it would represent the agility and speed of its athletes with a slug for a mascot. Sure, it’s a banana slug, which I guess is better than a regular slug (bonus points for uniqueness), but it’s still a slug.
Apparently a sloth was too nimble.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.