The 12 Greatest College Football Nicknames of All Time

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The 12 Greatest College Football Nicknames of All Time

In today's college football world we see fewer legitimate nicknames for players or teams. I've been advised that "it's not a real nickname if you give it to yourself."

Certainly we don't want to offend anyone, but let's look back at nicknames given to specific squads for specific years, some of which survive to this day.

12. Junkyard Dogs—Name given the 1976 defense that took Georgia to the Sugar Bowl. Coached by the late Erk Russell who once threw a live snake into a team meeting to promote drug awareness. Don't ask me. Term generally applies to any Georgia defense since '76.

11. Wrecking Crew— Moniker offered by defensive player Chet Brooks and promoted by 1980s Texas A&M defense. Still in use.

10. Blackshirts— Term coined in 1964 by Bob Devaney, head coach at Nebraska, to distinguish the first-team defense from other squads during practice. Cornhuskers held 10 regular season foes to 75 points on the road to the Big Eight title. Badge of honor still in use.

9. The Wild Bunch— Taken from the 1969 film of the same name, the Southern Cal defense led by Al Cowlings (yes, he drove the Bronco) took on the name and personality of this violent film in marching to a 10-0-1 season in '69, topped off by a Rose Bowl win over Michigan.

8. The Mafia— Rossi, Scarpati, Fazarano, and Koszarsky were accused of bringing violin cases to games, without fiddles inside. Their 1963 N.C. State Wolfpack went 8-2.

7. The Fire Ants— South Carolina's garnet-clad defenders who swarmed all over the field from 1983 until Coach Joe Morrison's untimely death following the 1988 season.

6. The Team Named Desire— 1954 Navy squad quarterbacked by George Welsh was so named by Coach Eddie Erdelatz on the way to a Sugar Bowl win over Mississippi.

5. The Seven Magnificents and The Forgotten Four— Term used to describe Florida State defense during breakout year of 1964. Borrowed from 1960 film "The Magnificent Seven."

4. Chinese Bandits— Paul Dietzel installed three separate units to run the table and win it all for LSU in 1958. The Bandits were a defensive unit built upon speed, not size. Based on the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates". Completely unacceptable now.

3. Red Elephants— Atlanta newspapermen hung that intimidating name on the fearsome 1930 Alabama team that quaked the earth while outscoring its foes, 271-13.

2. Seven Blocks Of Granite— Term associated with the powerful offensive line of 1936 Fordham Rams, anchored by the ferocious Vince Lombardi and coached by Jim Crowley. 

1. The Four Horsemen—"Outlined against the blue-gray October sky rode the Four Horsemen: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Layden, and Miller," wrote Grantland Rice on Oct. 18, 1924. The name of that great Notre Dame team lives on until today. Jim Crowley was the coach of the Seven Blocks of Granite a decade later. All four are in the college Football Hall of Fame. 

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