How 6 College Mascots Got Started

1. MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY SPARTY WINS BECAUSE OF MEDIA COUP

Michigan State University was originally called Michigan Agricultural College. However, by 1925 the school had expanded from it’s agrarian roots and the name was changed to Michigan State College. It sought to replace the name “Aggies” as the term for athletics. After running a contest the name “Staters” was chosen.

Lansing State Journal editor George S. Alderton hated the name and got access to the suggestions the university had considered. He found the name Spartans and unilaterally decided to start calling the players “Spartans.”

1.5 Nebraska Sportswriter Decided “Bugeater” beneath him, changes name to “Cornhuskers”

Another coup by a sportswriter came from Charles S. (Cy) Sherman. He was an influential sports editor of the Lincoln Star and created the AP Poll that rules modern football. But as a Lincoln editor, he covered the University of Nebraska football team. They had various names such as Old Gold Knights, Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys, but in 1892 settled on the name “Bugeaters”. After a losing season in 1899, Sherman used his position to start referring to the team as the Cornhuskers, which became the nickname for the entire state, denying neighboring state opportunity to make fun of a state of bug eaters.

2. NORTHWESTERN BECOME WILDCATS AFTER BLAMING BABY BEAR FOR LOSING SEASON


Northwestern, like Big Ten rivals Michigan State and Nebraska, got it’s name from a newspaper sportswriter comment. Originally called “The Purple”, the name came after praise after a loss to the University of Chicago. The Chicago Tribune said even in loss the team looked like “Wildcats [that] had come down from Evanston.” Such praise made wildcats the official mascot without any sort of coup by the media elite.

But prior to the Willie the Wildcat mascot there was another animal mascot. Furpaw the bear cub was the original animal mascot and could very well have been a permanent mascot. The caged bear cub, from the Lincoln zoo, was driven on the field before games during the 1923 season. But after a losing season they decided to blamed the caged bear for the loss and banished him from campus. Because, you know, it couldn’t be because of crappy coaching or anything.

3. STANDFORD TREE, IDEA OF REBELLIOUS ’60s KIDS

The Standford Tree is one of the dumbest and ugliest mascots in all of sports.

The Tree only sticks around because it’s the mascot of the band, or more accurately, a band of rebellious musicians who took over the program in the 1960′s. They went on strike in 1963 to protest the removal of the band director. The new director, a grad student unliked by the group, offered to hand over all meaningful control if they would take the field again. The students agreed and soon shed their military uniform, dressed in tacky red blazers and white fishing hats and started playing rock and roll music instead of the classics.

In 1973 the band offered three mascots to the campus: The Tree, The Steaming Manholes (nothing misconstrued in a San Francisco area, nope), and The French Fry.

4. SCOTTSDALE FIGHTING ARTICHOKES A FAILED “FUCK YOU” BY STUDENTS TO ADMINISTRATION 

Scottsdale Community College’s Fighting Artichokes is one of the strangest and dumbest names, but the origin comes from a spat between academic minded student government and a media hungry administration fighting over funding in the 1970′s.

After building a gym without approval of the student government, the administration demanded a student vote for a mascot. The students offered artichoke, rutabage and Scoundrel. They also chose pink and green as the school colors. University overrode the color decisions, but stuck with the artichoke because as the college President said “You get heart when you get to the middle of an artichoke. Can you imagine anything more beautiful than that?”

5. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS — AUSTIN BEVO EATEN BY SPORTS TEAM 

Live animal mascots aren’t unusual, but rarely are they eaten. Bevo I, the University of Texas-Austin’s first mascot, was barbecued and eaten at the team’s banquet. He was not the orignal mascot (it was a dog) but was bought and brought to campus ina train car with no water or food. He was then sent to a stockyard for safekeeping, where he was branded by a rival Texas A&M team and we he got too expensive to care for, they slaughtered and barbequed him, even sharing his flaesh with the Texas a&M team and presenting them the side of the hide they had barnded earlier.

Other Bevos charged and caused choas on campus. Bevo II, charged a male cheerleader, Bevo III escaped his pen and reigned terror on the campus, Bevo IV attacked a parked car and Bevo V broke loose and scattered the Baylor band.

6. BILL THE GOAT MAY HAVE STARTED WITH NAVY SEAMAN WEARING ROTTING GOAT CARCASS 

According to legend on the US Naval Academy site, two Navy Sailors were bringing the carcass of a goat that road on a Navy ship and died. On the way to the taxidermist to have the goat skin stuffed, they stopped by to watch the football game, still with the goat skin. One got the idea to wear the goat skin and prance around, leading to the “Bill the Goat” mascot today.

 

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
8 Adorable Mascot Brawls Caught on Video
The 20 Douchiest Teams in College Football 

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