There are over 3,000 four-year colleges in the United States. The sheer abundance of schools forces some to get creative with their mascot creations, giving way to cheerleading bugs and happy but ambugious blobs of school spirit. I wonder who would win in a fight between Delta State’s Fighting Okra and Ohio State’s Brutus Buckeye. Here are the 10 weirdest college mascots, both official and unofficial:
1. UC-Santa Cruz: Sammy the Banana Slug
Sammy became UC-Santa Cruz’s official mascot in 1986, after being an unofficial symbol on USSC coed sports teams for many years. The banana slug is bright yellow, slimy blob found on the redwood forest floor. UC-Santa Cruz’s website says “The students’ embrace of such a lowly creature was their response to the fierce athletic competition fostered at most American universities.”
2. Dartmouth Big Green: Keggy the Keg
In 1971, Dartmouth’s Indian mascot was abolished. In the years that followed, Dartmouth was known simply as “The Big Green,” but in 2003 it was finally decided that this was insufficient, and the Dartmouth Student Assembly distributed a poll to name a new mascot. Keggy the Keg was adopted unofficially and quickly became an ingrained part of Dartmouth culture.
3. Delta State- Fighting Okra
While the (perhaps) more official mascot of DSU is the Statesman, in the 80’s students embraced a new character called the Fighting Okra. The Fighting Okra grew in popularity out of concern that nobody saw the “Statesman” as particularly frightening. So…they dreamt up a vegetable with boxing gloves and a fierce expression.
4. University of Toled0- Rocky
Rocky the Rocket was born in the 60’s, made out of a wastebasket with a pointed rocket top head made out of paper mache. Today, Rocky the Rocket has a girlfriend, too: Rocksey the Rocket.
5. Stanford- the Tree
Stanford’s team name is the Cardinals, but the school has never really come up with an official mascot, so they’ve adopted the band’s mascot: a tree. Competition to be a Tree is fierce. Candidates must perform dangerous, unwise, and outrageous stunts to impress the selection committee during “Tree Week”.
6. Syracuse- Otto the Orange
Syracuse’s mascot was historically a Native American character named “The Saltine Warrior” (because Syracuse’s nickname is “The Salt City”). In 1978, students had the Saltine Warrior thrown out, and the school introduced a new character, a Roman gladiator dressed in orange armor. This dude proved to be unpopular, and in 1990, Otto the Orange took over.
7. Virginia Tech- Hokie Bird
Hokie Bird, Virginia Tech’s official mascot, is very popular; he stars in several children’s books. Virginia Tech athletics have taken the nickname “the Fighting Gobblers” for almost a century, but the nickname didn’t spawn an actual mascot until 1962. Hokie Bird gets his name from the “Old Hokie” cheer.
8. Western Kentucky- Big Red
Western Kentucky’s mascot is a big red blob created in 1979. Big Red is meant to stand as a symbol of the school’s spirit as well as the sports teams’ nickname, the “Hilltoppers”. He’s actually really popular, and has won several mascot awards.
9. Ohio State University- Brutus
Brutus Buckeye is a Buckeye nut dressed in school colors. In 1965, it was decided that the school needed an official mascot. While the first idea was a buck deer, that suggestion was rejected because it was deemed impossible. Instead, Brutus Buckeye was born, as the Buckeye is the Ohio State tree. For a nut, Brutus is a total crowd-pleaser.
10. University of Arkansas at a Monticell0- The Boll Weevil
Before you dismiss UA-Monicello’s mascot, consider this: the Boll Weevil is actually quite the daunting opponent, as it is the most destructive cotton bug in the United States. It’s also pretty creepy looking.