Every year, hundreds of college students around the country climb into ridiculous costumes to help motivate fans, cheer on players, and help bring luck to their teams.
Just like student athletes, mascots have to be in tip-top physical shape and make it through demanding tryouts. They must be able to handle intense workouts in cumbersome, sauna-like costumes, not to mention handle being groped in weird places by weird people.
Tennessee Volunteer head coach Bruce Pearl knows firsthand what it takes to be a mascot.
During his time as an administrative assistant at Boston College, Pearl helped the Eagles make it to the NCAA tournament in 1981. On the team's trip, the mascot got sick.
Pearl was the low man on the totem pole, so naturally he was ordered to put on the costume and take over the responsibilities. He took the role to heart, doing everything he could to distract the opposing team's players. At one point, he even used a ladder to climb up and obnoxiously flail himself about during a player's free throws.
"They had a meeting after the game and they were going to throw me out," Pearl joked. "I broke like five NCAA rules."
Mascots were originally used by schools to help bring good luck to a team. Now, they are multipurpose marketing tools used to promote a school's agenda.
While rooting for your favorite teams during the 2010 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, make sure to pay attention to the mascots. Some of this year's crop of mascots have been known to get crazy from time to time.