2013_BCS_National_Championship_Game Redone.jpg
Now that Santa has shimmied his way down everyone's chimney, the presents have been unwrapped, and the family members are starting to leave town, the


Seattle Weekly's College Football Mascot Challenge

2013_BCS_National_Championship_Game Redone.jpg
Now that Santa has shimmied his way down everyone's chimney, the presents have been unwrapped, and the family members are starting to leave town, the real holiday is just getting started: college football's bowl season. While college football might be still a sore subject for both Huskies and Cougars fans (especially for those Husky fans who watched UW come up short to Boise State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Saturday), the fact that at least one football game will be played every day for the next 13 days is something to cheer about.

*See Also: 30 Things to be Thankful For About Seattle Before the Mayan Doomsday Kills Us All

On top of the fanfare and football that occurs with each bowl game, one thing that sometimes goes unnoticed is the mascots. While in the past few years the Capital One Mascot Challenge has shed light on each college's true 'spirit animal' by having fans vote on their favorite mascot in the nation, no one has really looked at how each college's mascot stacks up against one another.

Therefore, to truly begin 'the most wonderful time of the year' for college football fans, we thought we would give you a review of some of the top bowl games this winter from the perspective of the mascot matchup. (Fair warning: By the end of this post you will have no idea what colleges were thinking when most were choosing their mascots.)

1. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

When: Tonight 4:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Ford Field; Detroit, Mich.

Matchup: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers' Big Red (Left) against the Central Michigan Chippewas Flying C (Right)

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Big Red background: How did Western Kentucky create a mascot that looks like a Big Red blob? Supposedly back in 1979 all the university had to its name was a little red towel logo. The school needed something more to energize and excite crowds at sports events. Student Ralph Carey came up with the large big blob to answer the school's mascot needs, which the university strangely approved. Supposedly representing the 232-foot hill the school sits on above the Barren River in Bowling Green, Big Red has received national and international recognition, including receiving the "Key to Spirit," award at the Universal Cheerleading Association competition in 1980, 1981, and 1983 - as well as being selected for the Capital One All-America Mascot Team eight of the ten years of the programs existence.

Flying C background: Designed by an IET Department undergraduate student in 1995, the "flying C" logo was first used in its current form in 1997. Originally known as the Chippewas, after the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe nearby, the school was barred from using the Native American name as a result of a recommendation by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and an advisory committee to the university president. As a result, today the school currently has no official mascot.

Verdict: In all honesty, this matchup is too close to call. Given that I have never seen a giant red blob take on the letter C and do not have any idea what would happen, I'm not going to speculate on the outcome - other than say both schools could improve their mascot-creating skills.

2. The Russell Athletic Bowl

When: Friday December 28, 2012; 2:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: The Florida Citrus Bowl; Orlando, Fla.

Matchup: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights' Scarlet Knight (Left) against the Virginia Tech Hokies' HokieBird (Right)

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Scarlet Knight background: Talk of making the school's color scarlet began in 1869, when the school newspaper The Daily Targum suggested it be chosen due to its striking color and the fact that good scarlet ribbon could be easily obtained. Many students wanted to use the color orange to commemorate the school's Dutch heritage, but such plans were thwarted when an orange flag could not be found in the New Brunswick area (if only Snookie was in New Jersey in the 19th century to give the school some orange spray tan). Originally, when Rutgers was known as Queen's College, the athletic teams were referred to as Queensmen. In 1925 the school adopted the Chanticleer, a fighting rooster from the medieval fable Reynard the Fox. However, as time went on, several individuals began to refer to the mascot as a chicken, so to give the athletic teams a tougher persona Rutgers hosted a campus-wide vote. During this election the Scarlet Knight won out, beating out names like "Queensmen," the "Red Lions," and the "Flying Dutchmen."

HokieBird background: How the word "Hokie" came to be is a story in itself. After the Virginia General Assembly decided to change Virginia Tech's name from 'Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College' to 'Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute' in 1896 (Really, Virginia, that is super confusing), the school decided it needed to change its cheer and school colors. Therefore senior O.M. Stull wrote a new spirit yell and won the $5 top prize (yes, only $5) for a cheer he named the Old Hokie. In terms of the school's mascot, the team originally went by the term "Gobblers" in the early 1900's in reference to the way student athletes would "gobble" up tons of food. When local resident Fred Meade decided to have a large turkey pull him in a cart during a football game in 1913, it was decided a turkey would be the school's mascot. However, in the late 1970's the school's football coach did not like the image of the Gobbler mascot portraying student athletes chowing down all the time, and began promoting the Hokie as a new nickname for athletic teams. Ultimately, in 1982 the name stuck.

Verdict: The Scarlet Knight obviously comes out victorious. A few swings at the Hokie with the Scarlet Knight's sword will carve it up like Thanksgiving dinner. Also a school that comes up with a name like Hokie doesn't deserve to win anything.

The mascot challenge continues on the following page...

3. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl

When: Saturday December 29, 2012; 12:15 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Yankee Stadium; Bronx, N.Y.

Matchup: The West Virginia Mountaineers' Mountaineer (Left) against the Syracuse Orange's Otto the Orange (Right)

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Mountaineer background: The Mountaineer mascot first came to fruition during the 1934-1935 school year. In the early 1930's students (especially male students) would wear flannel shirts, bearskin capes and coonskin caps. In 1934 the student yearbook The Monticola sponsored a contest to determine the male senior who contributed the most to the university - an honoree to be known as "The Mountaineer." Today the position still exists, and can be held by any student (not just a male senior) - chosen by the Mountain Honorary organization on campus. Male mountaineers normally grow beards during their tenure, though facial hair is not required. The Mountaineer is required to attend every home and away West Virginia football game, as well as every home men's and women's basketball game. During home football games the Mountaineer mascot leads the team onto the field, firing his or her rifle into the air, as well as leading fans in cheers throughout sporting contests.

Otto the Orange background: Syracuse didn't originally have its sports teams represented by an orange. According to a piece published in The Syracuse Orange Peel in 1931 the 16th century Onondagan chief the Saltine Warrior, who was actually named Big Chief Bill Orange, was found in the excavations for the new women's gymnasium in 1928 (creepy). In 1951 the senior class commissioned a statue of the Saltine Warrior to be placed on campus, and in the same decade the father of a Syracuse Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother who owned a cheerleading camp made the fraternity a Saltine Warrior costume. This started the tradition of not only the Saltine Warrior as the school's mascot, but Lambda Chi Alpha brothers serving as the school's mascot (ultimately in 1990 the university opened up the act of being a mascot to anyone). In 1978 members of a Native American student organization began protesting against the Saltine Warrior as an athletic mascot. After removing the Indian look in '78 for a Roman-style gladiator that received mixed reviews, Syracuse decided to scrap the Saltine Warrior altogether. From 1980-1995, the school would propose a variety of different mascots, including the Dome Ranger (an insurance agent in an orange cowboy outfit and blue mascot) and the Beast from the East (an electric-green monster), but ultimately Otto the Orange prevailed.

Verdict: The only real opposition Otto could give to a mountaineer is massive doses of Vitamin C (which a mountaineer could probably use some of), leading to a quick demise for the loveable orange. Otto might also want to be careful when dealing with the mountaineer mascot because he's been known recently to use his rifle for more than West Virginia football games.

4. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

When: Saturday December 29, 2012; 7:15 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Arizona Sun Devil Stadium; Tempe, Ariz.

Matchup: The Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs' Super Frog (Left) against the Michigan State Spartans' Sparty the Spartan (Right)

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Super Frog background: Newsflash: A horned frog is not actually a frog, but a type of lizard. It was originally named the TCU mascot in 1897 when AddRan Christian University (renamed TCU in 1902) was relocated to Waco, Texas. In 1979 the mascot was changed from Addy the All-American Frog to Super Frog. While simply a cute but strange looking lizard creature in mascot form, the actual horned frog is unique in the fact that when angered or frightened the three-to-five-inch-long reptile can squirt a fine four-foot stream of blood from its eyes.

Sparty the Spartan background: While Michigan State has had the Spartan name for some time, Sparty himself has only existed for the past two decades. As early as 1950 several fraternity brothers attempted to make a Spartan mascot out of paper mache, but none can compare to the buff green warrior the school has today. During his short time in operation, Sparty has become a national celebrity, making various appearances on ESPN commercials and the Capital One Mascot Challenge.

Verdict: Despite the blood shooting eyes of Super Frog, Sparty will dominate this contest. I mean just look at those muscles.

The mascot challenge continues on the following page...

5. The Hyundai Sun Bowl

When: Monday December 31, 2012; 11:00 a.m. on CBS

Where: The Sun Bowl; El Paso, Texas

Matchup: The University of Southern California (USC) Trojans' Traveler (Left) against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' Buzz the Yellow Jacket (Right)

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Traveler background: Most college football fans who watch USC football assume that the Ben Hur looking Trojan warrior at the school's home games is USC's official mascot. However in actuality the school's official mascot is Traveler, the white horse the Trojan warrior rides into the stadium on and parades about on after the team scores a touchdown. White horses have been present at USC games as early as 1927, but a horse by the name of Traveler did not come into actual being until USC's 1961 home opener. The current horse at USC games is the fourth form of the Traveler mascot. In terms of the Trojan warrior that swings around his large sword at games, the original warrior wore Charlton Heston's outfit in "Ben Hur," but after becoming too cumbersome a leather costume was constructed in 1962 after the Tommy Trojan statue on USC's campus. Traveler and the Trojan not only partake in USC football games, but are also part of several special events, including the Rose Bowl parade.

Buzz the Yellow Jacket background: Georgia Tech began to refer to its athletic teams as 'yellow jackets' in 1905 when coach John Heisman told the Atlanta Constitution that he wanted his team to be called the 'yellow jackets,' in reference to their yellow jerseys. A large yellow jacket bee as a mascot came about in 1972 when Judi McNair donned a homemade yellow jacket costume and performed at home football games. However it wasn't until 1979 when student Richie Bland created his own yellow jacket costume and wore it at Georgia Tech events that the yellow jacket called Buzz would be the school's mascot. Well known for a large front "suicide" flip called a Buzz Flip and crowd surfing, Buzz has won several mascot awards including being a member of the Capital One All-American Mascot Team in 2005 and 2006.

Verdict: While some might expect the Trojan warrior and Traveler to dominate this matchup, I can actually see Buzz winning. Given a yellow jacket's small size the warrior's ability to slash Buzz with a sword might be limited. And Buzz's large stinger bee would allow him to sting the warrior to death.

6. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl

When: Monday December 31, 2012; 12:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: The Liberty Bowl; Memphis, Tenn.

Matchup: The Iowa State Cyclones' Cy the Cardinal (Left) against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes' Captain 'Cane (Right)

Iowa State vs. Tulsa Redone.jpg

Cy the Cardinal background: From cyclone to cardinal? That's what the Iowa State student body decided before the 1954 season. Their reasoning was that it would be impossible to create a stuffed mascot version of a cyclone, and as a result a cardinal would be nice alternative. In a nationwide contest the school held during the same period, the country decided Cy would be a good name for the bird, and the rest is history. Cy has gone through a few upgrades, with the most recent one taking place in 1995.

Captain 'Cane background: Tulsa originally became the Golden Hurricanes in 1922 after taking on a slue of nicknames ranging from the Tigers to the Kendallites for 30 years previous. At the time called the 'Yellow Jackets' due to the school's yellow and black uniforms, football coach Howard Acher wanted a new name for the '22 season given the prospects of a great football campaign for Tulsa that year. After a comment was made in practice one day about the team "roaring through opponents," and given their new jersey color, Archer wanted to be called the Golden Tornadoes. However Georgia Tech already had this name, and Archer settled with the name the Golden Hurricanes. It wasn't until 1978 that Tulsa had an official mascot named Huffy, a golden hurricane with human attributes like biceps, clothes, and a swirled over-sized inverted cone-shaped golden head. In 1994 Huffy's name was changed to Captain 'Cane, and in 2009 Captain 'Cane was given a makeover to his current form today. According to the University of Tulsa athletic website, Captain 'Cane was originally Colin Cane, a University of Tulsa freshman who worked in IT support. One night during an electrical storm he was called to the sports complex to fix a malfunctioning satellite, and between the roar of the crowd and static electricity from the storm Colin was caught in a web of 'cyber-athletic forces' (whatever that is). Eventually Colin lost his hair, gained super-human powers and became the superhero like mascot he is today.

Verdict: While he might not be a real superhero like Batman or Phoenix Jones (we'll give him a break on injuring a little kid), Captain 'Cane is a super-human and Cy is just a Cardinal. It's pretty obvious the Captain will win this contest.

The mascot challenge continues on the following page...

7. The Heart of Dallas Bowl

When: Tuesday January 1, 2013; 9:00 a.m. on ESPNU

Where: The Cotton Bowl; Dallas, Texas

Matchup: The Purdue Boilermakers' Purdue Pete (Left) against the Oklahoma State Cowboys' Pistol Pete (Right)

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Purdue Pete background: The term 'Boilermaker,' was originally used in 1891 by a local Indiana newspaper to describe the football team's 44-0 victory over Wabash College. In October 1892 the student newspaper The Purdue Exponent picked it up and the name stuck, despite several other ideas including the 'railsplitters,' and 'cornfield sailors.' In 1940 Purdue's University Bookstore hired artist Art Evans to draw a boilermaker as an advertising icon. In 1944 the university yearbook picked up the drawing and used it on its cover . By 1956 Purdue Pete had become a regular staple at sporting events.

Pistol Pete background: In 1923, Oklahoma A&M College was searching for a new mascot to replace the tiger they copied from Princeton, and came to the conclusion of a cowboy to represent the heritage of the old west. While Pistol Pete has been OSU's mascot since 1923, in 1958 the costume seen today came to fruition.

Verdict: Both mascots are evenly matched in terms of strength and capabilities, which might lead to a close contest. But Pistol Pete has a gun, giving him the clear advantage and the victory.

8. The Outback Bowl

When: Tuesday January 1, 2013; 10:00 a.m. on ESPN

Where: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.

Matchup: The South Carolina Gamecocks' Cocky the Gamecock (Left) against the Michigan Wolverines 'M' (Right)

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Cocky the Gamecock background: While University of South Carolina teams have been known as the Gamecocks since 1900 in reference to the fighting roosters that used to partake in cock fights (before the practice became outlawed in the U.S.), Cocky did not become the official mascot until 1980. Considered the son of Big Spur, a large rooster that had been attending games since 1978 as the university mascot, Cocky has been recognized through several awards as one of the top mascot's in the country. In 1986, 1994, and 2004 he was recognized as National Mascot of the Year and currently is a finalist to win the 2012 Capital One Mascot Challenge.

'M' background: Michigan has experimented with live mascots in the past, including having two live wolverines named Bennie and Biff in Michigan Stadium during football games in the 1920's. But a real mascot has never truly materialized (maybe people just don't really care for mascots that much in Michigan). There has been some talk recently of getting an actual mascot for the school, but right now the closest thing Michigan has to a mascot is their big yellow 'M.'

Verdict: Despite the lack of a mascot, I have to give this to Michigan simply because of how preposterous a Gamecock mascot is - and not only a Gamecock mascot, but a Gamecock mascot named Cocky. Come on, South Carolina. This is almost as crazy as the pancock.

The mascot challenge continues on the following page...

9. The AT&T Cotton Bowl

When: Friday January 4, 2013; 5:00 p.m. on FOX

Where: Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, Texas

Matchup: The Texas A&M Aggies' Reveille (Left) against the Oklahoma Sooners' Sooner and Boomer (Right)

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Reveille background: Talk about a weird way to come across a mascot. On the way back to campus from a trip in 1931, a group of Texas A&M cadets hit a small black and white dog with their car. They picked it up and brought it back to campus to care for it, and the following morning when reveille was blown by a bugler the dog started barking, resulting in the dog taking on its current name. By 1932 the dog had become the university mascot, leading the band onto the field during halftime performances. Since this time Reveille has changed in terms of the type of dog that represents the university, and is currently a full-blooded collie.

Sooner and Boomer background: While the main mascot for Oklahoma University is the Sooner Schooner - a Conestoga wagon pulled by two white ponies that began in 1964 - Sooner and Boomer started representing the school in 2005. The two mascots, which look the same, are supposed to represent the two ponies that pull the Sooner Schooner.

Verdict: Reveille wins this one. While a pony might be larger in size, Reveille can use her collie dog ways to herd the two horses somewhere dangerous (like a cliff).

10. The Discover BCS National Championship Game

When: Monday January 7, 2013; 5:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Sun Life Stadium; Miami, Fla.

Matchup: The Alabama Crimson Tide's Big Al the Elephant (Left) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish's Leprechaun (Right)

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Big Al the Elephant background: Once again a journalist helped decide a college's mascot. After the 1930 Alabama-Ole Miss football game, a writer wrote that an anonymous fan yelled out "Hold your horses, the elephants are coming!" as Alabama was coming onto the field. The name stuck and was cemented after the team won the National Championship later that season. In costume form, Big Al came to fruition at the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

Leprechaun background: Originally represented by a series of Irish terrier dogs, Notre Dame officially accepted the Leprechaun as its mascot in 1965. The Leprechaun contains several roles on campus, including leading the student section in cheers during football games, MC'ing Friday night pep rallies, and leading the band onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium.

Verdict: No matter how much luck that Leprechaun has, Big Al will dominate him either by stepping on him with his huge hooves or sucking him up in his large trunk. Should have stuck with the Irish terriers, Notre Dame (which would still be no match for an elephant, but might look a little more manly than a leprechaun).

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