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SEC Background Checks: The Meaning Behind Every Team's Nickname and Mascot

J FCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2017

SEC Background Checks: The Meaning Behind Every Team's Nickname and Mascot

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  Albert, the mascot for the Florida Gators, performs against the UCLA Bruins during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Florida won 73-65. (Photo b
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Crimson Tide? Volunteers? Gamecocks?

    The Southeastern Conference has 12 members, and two pairs of teams share the same nickname. However, the other eight are quite unique, and some are very unusual.

    The average fan has no clue where the schools' mascots originated, but thankfully there are answers and reasonable explanations.

    Note: If you are interested in nicknames of other NCAA, NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA teams, check out my profile for the articles.

Georgia Bulldogs

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    ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 29:  Georgia Bulldogs mascot Hairy Dawg poses before the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Athens, Georgia.  The Yellow Jackets defeated the Bulldogs 45-42.  (Photo by Mike Zarril
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    The use of a ferocious bulldog was first used to resemble Georgia's football program as early as 1901 on a fan badge, and it grew into a common term used by sportswriters to describe the team.

    The lineage of live bulldogs, all named Uga, have traditionally been used as UGA's mascot in addition to Hairy Dawg, the costumed bulldog.

    The latest Uga, Uga VIII, died on February 4, 2011, and another relative, named Russ, will serve as the interim mascot.

Kentucky Wildcats

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  The Wildcat, mascot for the Kentucky Wildcats, performs with cheerleaders during their game against the Ole Miss Rebels in the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 11, 2011 in Atlanta, Geor
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Philip W. Corbusier is credited as the first person to say the team "fought like Wildcats," but the media and fans popularized the nickname to the point where it became official.

    Blue, a live bobcat, never attends games because he doesn't like crowds, but he is an official mascot of the university nonetheless.

    The Wildcat and Scratch are the school's two costumed mascots that do interact with fans at home contests.

South Carolina Gamecocks

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    ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Cocky, mascot of the South Carolina Gamecocks, watches from the sidelines against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    South Carolina's nickname is a tribute to Thomas Sumter, a hero in the state during the American Revolution, who despite his small stature was said to have "fought like a gamecock."

    Cocky, a costumed gamecock, has been the school's mascot since 1980.

Tennessee Volunteers

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    ST. LOUIS - MARCH 26:  Smokey, the Tennessee Volunteers mascot, and a cheerleader celebrate the win over he Ohio State Buckeyes during the midwest regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Edward Jones Dome on March 26, 2010 i
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State due to the fact that many volunteer soldiers played a large role for the state in the War of 1812.

    There is both a live and a costumed version of the school's mascot Smokey. A contest was held in 1953 among other coon hounds native to Tennessee, but the Bluetick Coonhound received the most votes.

    Smokey was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2008.

Vanderbilt Commodores

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 12:  The Vanderbilt University Commodores mascot Mr. C. entertains the fans during their game against the Florida Gators in  the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his wealth in the shipping industry, was one of the richest Americans in history.

    The title "Commodore" was given to the commanding officer of a task force of ships during the 19th century.

    Mr. C, the school's mascot, is a naval officer from the same time period.

Alabama Crimson Tide

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 02:  Big Al, mascot of the Alabama Crimson Tide, against the Florida Gators at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Originally referred to as the Crimson White due to the school colors, the football team was described by sportswriters as the "Crimson Tide" after a 1906 game in which they played in a sea of red mud.

    The media popularized the nickname as well as the mascot. Big Al, the costumed elephant, was created after a sportswriter wrote that a fan had yelled, "Here come the elephants!" as the football team entered the field.

Arkansas Razorbacks

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Arkansas Razorbacks mascot Big Red performs during their game against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It is said that Arkansas football coach Hugo Bezdek described his players as a "wild band of razorback hogs." These particular wild boars have a ridged back and are known for their tenacity and fight.

    In 1910, the distinctive nickname became official after a vote by the student body, and the former cardinal mascot was tossed.

    In addition to Tusk, the school's live Russian boar, Big Red, and his female counterpart, Sue E., are the main costumed mascots. There is also a similar child-sized rendition called Pork Chop and Boss Hog, an inflatable hog.

Auburn Tigers

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Aubie, the Auburn Tigers mascot performs at their game against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Once again the media popularized this school's nickname. However, some say it is a reference to a line in a 1770 poem, "where crouching tigers await their hapless prey."

    Aubie, the award-winning anthropomorphic tiger, is Auburn's mascot. He was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006.

Louisiana State Tigers

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    NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 11: Mike the Tiger, mascot of the LSU Tigers performs against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The original Louisiana Tigers were famous Confederate brigades from Louisiana during the Civil War that were known for their ferocity and fearlessness.

    Mike the Tiger is LSU's live Bengal tiger mascot, but there is also a costumed rendition present at games.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 14:  Bully, the mascot for the Mississippi State Bulldogs performs against the Kentucky Wildcats during the final of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 14, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. Kentucky won
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Bulldogs is a common nickname for sports teams, and it was used interchangeably with Aggies in Mississippi State's early years until it became official in 1961.

    Bully is the school's current bulldog mascot.

Mississippi Rebels

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 13:  University of Mississippi Rebels mascot, Col. Reb, runs during an intermission in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks at the Louisiana Superdome on March 13, 2003 in New Orleans,
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Formally known as the Flood, the Ole Miss Rebels were given their name after a contest in 1936.

    Colonel Reb, appearing as a Southern plantation owner or Confederate soldier, had been the official mascot up until 2003, when he was retired due to controversy over racial connotations.

    Rebel Black Bear was eventually selected as a replacement in 2010 based on the legend that Teddy Roosevelt shot a black bear in Mississippi.

Florida Gators

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  Albert, the mascot for the Florida Gators, poses for a photo with 2 FLorida cheerleaders against the UCLA Bruins during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa,
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    This one isn't too complicated or difficult to figure out. Florida is home to millions of American alligators, which is shortened to "gators" for the university's nickname.

    A live alligator was once used as Florida's mascot, but now the costumed couple of Albert and Alberta Gator are used to pump up Gator Nation.

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