Big 12 Background Checks: The Origins of Every Team's Nickname and Mascot
Aggies? Sooners? Red Raiders?
There are definitely some odd mascots and nicknames in the Big 12 Conference, but fortunately there are reasonable explanations in their histories.
The major conference is down to 10 teams since Nebraska and Colorado have departed to join other conferences, so now even the conference's name is confusing.
Thankfully, there are answers for those who may not know the origins of each school's traditions.
Note: If you are interested in the nicknames of other NCAA, NHL, NFL, MLB, and MLB teams, check out my profile for the articles.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State's athletic teams were first known as the Cyclones in 1895, a year of an unusually high number of cyclones (or tornadoes) in the state. Newspaper headlines popularized the name by comparing the football team to a cyclone and it eventually became official.
Cy the Cardinal, not a cyclone, is Iowa State's mascot. A costumed cyclone would just be a bit ridiculous. The cardinal was chosen instead because it resembles the school's official colors.
Kansas State Wildcats
In 1915, football coach John Bender gave his new team the "Wildcats" nickname. The name shifted to Farmers and Aggies under another coach in 1917, but the team was renamed the Wildcats in 1920 and the common collegiate nickname has lasted at KSU to this day.
Willie the Wildcat, also the name of Northwestern's mascot, has been Kansas State's costumed cat since 1947.
The term "jayhawk" is a cross between the blue jay and the sparrow hawk. It was adopted by abolitionist groups in the Kansas area prior to the Civil War, and it has grown into a nickname for people who are born in the state.
Big Jay and his smaller jayhawk likeness, Baby Jay, are the school's two official mascots.
The university is located in Columbia, Missouri. In 1864, residents rose up to defend the city against Confederates during the Civil War. The unit became known as the Fighting Tigers of Columbia and later became the school's new nickname.
Truman the Tiger, whose name is a tribute to the former U.S. president, has been named the best mascot in the nation on several occasions.
The bear was chosen to represent Baylor by a group of students in 1914. Other nominations inclued the buffalo, eagle, antelope, frog, ferret and bookworm.
Two live bears, Joy and Lady, serve as the school's mascots in addition to the costumed bear named Bruiser.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Frank "Pistol Pete" Eaton, a true cowboy, was asked to be the model for the school's mascot when students saw him riding his horse in the 1923 Armistice Day parade. He agreed and his likeness replaced a pet tiger as the mascot of Oklahoma A&M College.
Originally known as the Aggies, Farmers, and Tigers, the Cowboys became the official nickname when the college became a university in 1957.
Texas A&M Aggies
The term "Aggies" is a common nickname used by land-grant and agriculture colleges.
Reveille, a rough collie, is the official mascot of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical.
The original collie was accidentally hit by some Corps of Cadet members. They brought the dog back to the dorms to nurse it back to help and it start barking at the next mornings bugle call to military formation or "Reveille".
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Originally known as the Matadors due to the school's Spanish architecture, sportswriters popularized the term "red raiders" and it became the new official name in 1936. Some say the nickname arose after the team began wearing attractive scarlet uniforms to stand out.
The Masked Rider mascot began when a student clad in a scarlet cape and mask rode a horse out onto the football field prior to a game. What was at first a harmless prank developed into the team's official mascot.
A costumed mascot called Raider Red makes his appearances when a live horse isn't appropriate.
Sooners is a nickname given to the first settlers of Oklahoma, which is now known as the Sooner State.
It came from the "sooner clause" of the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889 which denied those who entered the "unassigned lands" before the opening time the right to claim any land.
The Sooner Schooner pulled by a pair of white ponies, Boomer and Sooner, is a small Conestoga wagon used as the school's mascot.
Longhorn cattle are the official large animal of Texas and played a crucial part in the development of the state.
Bevo, a Texas longhorn steer, is the team's live mascot while Hook 'em is the costumed portrayal.
Texas' original mascot was known as Bo or Varsity. Legend is that Texas A&M fans branded 13-0, the score of the football game onto the steer. UT students changed the 13 to a B the - to an E and added a V. It is accepted by both Universities as a story that shows the rivalry between the two