Pac-12 Football: Ranking the Conference's Mascots
In 2010, the Pac-10 was one of the most competitive conferences in the entire country and eventually saw its top two teams, Oregon and Stanford, compete in BCS games.
This year, the conference will welcome two new programs, Utah and Colorado, and become the Pac-12.
College football is probably one of the most unpredictable sports in the world, so it is very unclear whether the race for the Pac-12 title will be anybody's to win once again. However, it looks like Oregon and Stanford will once again be going mano-a-mano for the conference championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl—or perhaps to the BCS title game in New Orleans.
While the actual competition on the field may be between only two programs, the crown of the best mascot in the conference is a wide open race.
No matter how difficult it may be, I will attempt to rank the Pac-12's mascots from the worst to the best.
12. Stanford Tree (Stanford)
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While the Stanford Tree may be one of the most famous mascots in the country, it is also undoubtedly one of the worst.
It may come as a surprise that this extremely ridiculous and often disturbing mascot is actually completely unofficial to the school, but the alumni of this prestigious university are very fortunate that that is the case.
11. Oski (Cal)
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While Oski, who debuted in 1941, may be one of the oldest mascots in the conference, he is not one of the greatest.
His size-15 shoe can be very deceiving, as the strange-looking bear stands just 5'7" tall.
Oski may have a lot of unique tradition to go along with him, but that does not keep him from being a rather unpleasant sight to spectators.
10. Benny Beaver (Oregon State)
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As an Oregon Ducks fan, even when I hold all biases aside, it is hard for me to place Benny Beaver much higher than No. 10 on this list.
The Beaver may have won the 2011 Capital One Mascot of the Year write-in campaign, but that does not mean that this aquatic mammal has suddenly become less annoying looking.
Regardless, Benny Beaver seems pretty ineffective in scaring away opponents or even pumping up the Reser Stadium crowd.
9. Harry the Husky (Washington)
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The University of Washington did not have a suited mascot until 1995, when it introduced Harry the Husky.
For his first 15 years of existence, Harry was pretty strange looking, as he appeared to be a rather friendly dog with huge eyes an insanely wide-open mouth.
However, the school finally came to their senses and introduced a new, more vicious version of Harry this past October.
8. Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat (Arizona)
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The University of Arizona originally used a real bobcat named Rufus Arizona as the school's mascot, but they choose to create Wilbur, a costumed version of the beast, in 1959.
Wilbur has remained a mainstay in Tucson since, and was even given a female counterpart and eventual wife, Wilma, in 1986. The two are inseparable and have helped pump up the Wildcat faithful in a number of ways for years.
7. Chip (Colorado)
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While Colorado's live Buffalo, Ralphie, has led the team onto the field before every game in Boulder for a number of years, the school's costumed mascot, Chip, has a less-storied history.
However, that does not mean that he can't be very effective in exciting the fans at Folsom Field.
In fact, the very spirited Buffalo has been awarded with a number of national honors, including a place on the 2003 Capital One Mascot All-America Team.
6. Joe and Josephine Bruin (UCLA)
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UCLA used a number of live bears with different names to pump the crowd up during their days in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but finally stuck with the name Joe Bruin in the 1960s. In 1964, the school introduced a costumed version of the Bruin, and he has remained with them since.
Joe is often regarded as one of the best mascots in the country, and has even been a finalist for the Capital One Mascot of the Year Award four times.
The school even gave Joe a lady friend, Josephine, to reward him for his great work.
5. Swoop (Utah)
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Swoop is a red-tailed hawk that is indigenous to the state of Utah and has been the team's mascot since 1996.
He is a more slick and athletic take on the Philadelphia Eagles mascot of the same name.
In my opinion, he is the most frightening mascot in the entire conference because he could probably destroy every single other one in a fight.
4. Sparky the Sun Devil (Arizona State)
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After short stints as the Owls and Bulldogs, ASU finally stuck with the nickname Sun Devils in 1946.
In 1951, Sparky the Sun Devil made his debut as the school's mascot.
Sparky and his pitchfork have come to represent the school both in and out of the athletic department.
3. Butch T. Cougar (Washington State)
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Washington State adopted the nickname "Cougars" in 1919 and began to use live cougars named Butch at its sporting events in 1927.
The school kept multiple live beasts on campus until 1978, when Butch VI passed away and a costumed version of him was introduced.
While their football team may not be anywhere near impressive, Butch still manages to lift the spirits of the fans. He was even honored as the Capital One Mascot of the Year in 2006.
2. Traveler and the Trojan (USC)
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While USC is the only school in the Pac-12 that does not have a student in a fully covered suit as a mascot, they do have two very special figures that roam around their sidelines and excite the crowd.
While it is often believed that USC's mascot is named Tommy Trojan, their official mascot is actually a white horse, named Traveler, that trots around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum every game.
Traveler is guided by a man in full body armor, known only as "the Trojan."
1. The Oregon Duck (Oregon)
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Often referred to as Puddles and mistaken for Disney's Donald Duck, the Oregon mascot, known only as "the Duck," is one of the greatest in the nation.
The Duck was a finalist for the 2010 Capital One Mascot of the Year Award.
He has become famous in recent years for doing push-ups after every Oregon point scored. The Duck sure gets a good workout, as Oregon was the highest scoring team in the nation last season.