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