Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The top 10 (+1) least original college sports mascots

{{en|Caption: 031230-N-9693M-004 Houston, Texa...Image via Wikipedia
College football is just around the corner, so its time to start ginning up the smack talk between traditional rivals -- and there's no easier way to cheapshot an enemy than by berating their beloved school mascot.

Luckily, that's pretty easy, because one out of every four mascots is braindead, lame-ass copy of somebody else's cherished logo-spawn. It's time to call out the top ten unoriginal D-I mascots.

For you stat geeks, there are 347 schools in NCAA Division I. There are not 347 D-I mascots. In fact, 93 schools -- 27 percent, as in more than one in four -- use variations on one of just ten mascots. That, my friends, is plain and simple me-too laziness and deserves to be mocked outright for its inanity. So, here we go.

Below, I rank each mascot by its lack of originality. The number of schools that employ the basic form of a mascot is listed first, then additional tiebreaker points are listed in parentheses for schools that use lame variations -- like appending a color (Red, Blue, Black, Golden, Scarlet) or habitat (Wild, Sky, Sea) -- to spice up a tired avatar.

Variations with a little more effort (Bengals instead of Tigers, for example) get cut some slack, mostly to break ties. Tired mascots used by a greater number of BCS schools are also ranked higher, because clearly the big dogs could afford to rebrand themselves with something unique. Also, Auburn, which has three mascots -- Tigers, War Eagles, and Plainsmen -- is cited more than once, and thus earns a place in the tenth circle of Unoriginal Mascot Hell.

And now, the Least Original NCAA D-I Mascots:
  1. Bulldogs - 13 (+1) schools - Alabama A&M, Bryant, Butler, The Citadel, Drake, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, NC Asheville, Samford, South Carolina State, Yale. (Runnin' Bulldogs) Gardner-Webb.
    For pure, unadulterated unoriginality, nothing tops a Bulldog as a mascot. We get it, you're tough and scrappy and look like Winston Churchill. Also, you make a mess on the rug, are easily domesticated, and everyone prefers you neutered. Pick a new dog, dawgs.
  2. Tigers - 13 (+1) schools - Clemson, Grambling State, Jackson State, Louisiana State, Memphis, Missouri, Pacific, Princeton, Savannah State, Tennessee State, Texas Southern, Towson, Auburn. (Bengals) Idaho State.
    The only reason that Tigers don't top this list is because Idaho State had the mild burst of creativity to call themselves the "Bengals." This, however, does indict LSU, who attempt to cover up their bland tigerness by referring to themselves as the "Bayou Bengals." Nice try, but you're still part of a baker's dozen (plus one) of mindless copycats. If you need a nickname to distract and distinguish from your actual mascot, maybe you need a new avatar for your athletic teams, pal.
  3. Eagles - 11 (+5) schools - American, Boston College, Coppin State, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Washington, Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia Southern, Morehead State, NC Central, Southern Mississippi, Winthrop. (Golden Eagles) Marquette, Oral Roberts, Tennessee Tech. (Purple Eagles) Niagara. (War Eagles) Auburn.
    American U is about the only school on this list who could make a reasonable case for claiming the Eagles, as the bald eagle is the official mascot of America, and if you're going to take your brand image from the USA, you might as well go whole, bird. The rest of you are just trying to cash in on the cachet of Uncle Sam's favorite fowl, losers.
  4. Wildcats - 9 schools - Davidson, Arizona, Bethune-Cookman, Kansas State, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Northwestern, Villanova, Weber State.
    A mascot so unoriginal none of these guys could even be bothered to switch it up. No Fightin' Wildcats or Golden Wildcats? Nope, just nine tame pussies squatting over the same kitty-litter name. Five of the six BCS conferences are represented here. Davidson, expect your ACC invite any day now to complete the set.
  5. Bears - 7 (+5) schools - Baylor, Brown, California, Central Arkansas, Mercer, Missouri State, Morgan State, Northern Colorado. (Grizzlies) Montana. (Golden Grizzlies) Oakland. (Black Bears) Maine. (Bruins) Belmont, UCLA.
    There is only one bear, and his name is Smokey. Until one of these institutions single-handedly teaches multiple generations of Americans to prevent forest fires, they can all go take a crap in the woods. Also, when Goldilocks is your archnemesis, you aren't very intimidating.
  6. Panthers - 6 (+1) schools - Eastern Illinois, Georgia State, High Point, Milwaukee, Northern Iowa, Pittsburgh, Prairie View A&M. (Golden Panthers) Florida International.
    Okay, for those that don't know, Panther is generic for "big scary cat." In Africa it means a leopard, in South America it means a jaguar, and in North America it means a cougar. Get back to us when you figure out exactly what kind of feline you want to be, and then we'll divvy up an actual mascot amongst the lot of you.
  7. Cougars - 6 Schools - Brigham Young, Chicago State, College of Charleston, Houston, Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Washington State.
    Just to be clear, you're not trying to associate yourself with an over-40 woman on the prowl for younger men, right? The fact that I have to ask you this question should tell you something.
  8. Huskies - 5 schools - Connecticut, Houston Baptist, Northeastern, Northern Illinois, Washington
    Yes, there are three different mascots that are shared by five schools, so which is worst? The Huskies are the prime offenders amongst the fiver-timers as two different BCS schools are proud to call themselves sled dogs, proving that at least four of these guys should have known the moniker was taken. Also, unless you lay eyes on the (entirely unintimidating dog-food-label-inspired) logos for each school, you could be forgiven for assuming that each team is populated entirely by moderate fat-asses. Time to to put this puppy down, fellas.
  9. Spartans - 5 schools - Michigan State, NC Greensboro, Norfolk State, San Jose State, South Carolina Upstate
    At least Michigan State is the lone BCS outfit to lay claim to the people of Sparta, but even they have to nickname themselves Sparty to prevent confusion with the mid-majors. Leonidas would spear you in the gut for such effrontery. And when a guy who goes into battle wearing nothing more than a red cape, leather thong, and body oil thinks you're soiling his legacy, you need to consider a new namesake.
  10. Rams - 5 schools - Colorado State, Fordham, Rhode Island, Virginia Commonwealth, Winston-Salem State
    Five squads fall under the this ungulate, none of them BCS schools. Nobody on this list has ever made a Final Four or a BCS Bowl. Clearly, the male sheep is a sign of great success, eh boys? The first school to switch out the horn-head logo with a screenshot of some Random Access Memory gets excused from the karmic beatdowns for...oh...let's say five minutes.
  11. Hawks - 4 (+11) schools - Hartford, Maryland Eastern Shore, Monmouth, St. Joseph's. (Hawkeyes) Iowa. (Jayhawks) Kansas. (Mountain Hawks) Lehigh. (Redhawks) Miami of Ohio, Seattle, Southeast Missouri State. (Seahawks) NC Wilmington, Wagner. (Skyhawks) Tennessee Martin. (Warhawks) Louisiana Monroe.
    Honorable mention goes to a mascot that enjoys such a wide range of minor variations, but the sad truth is, if someone shouts "Go Hawks" from the stands, they could mean any one of 15 schools. That isn't distinction, that's just dumb.

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