The word mascot comes from the French mascotte - meaning “lucky charm.”
Whether they’re picking on (or charging) a rival mascot, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, or just doing some casual backflips, there’s no doubt that mascots bring our teams a little extra luck come gameday. This week, come take a look behind the mask with us and read about some of our favorite college mascots and their stories!
Bill might seem like a strange mascot choice for the United States Naval Academy
. You might be thinking, “do goats even swim?” Believe it or not, though, back in the day, goats were the ideal companions for sailors at sea! Bill’s name was actually the name of a real sailing goat that belonged to Commander Colby M. Chester, Commandment of Midshipmen, who lived (and sailed) from 1891-1894. Essentially walking garbage disposals that turn trash into a constant supply of butter, cheese, and milk; a goat was a valuable resource on a ship with a lot of sailors and not a lot of access to fresh food (or food of any kind).
Rain or shine, Sebastian is always there to cheer on the Canes. And there couldn’t be a more fitting mascot choice for a team named after a storm than this marsh bird. According to local legend, the ibis is known in the Everglades and in Egypt as the last animal to take shelter before a hurricane hits, and the first to reappear after a storm. It’s even said that other birds in the wild look to the ibis for leadership in times of danger. It’d be hard to find a mascot better than Sebastian to represent Miami’s swagger and smashmouth offense!
Yes, there are tougher mascots. Stronger ones. Faster ones. But there’s no mascot quite like the Banana Slug. Bright yellow, slimy, shell-less, and spotted on the floor of California’s redwood forests, the Slug was actually picked by UC Santa Cruz because it’s so… unthreatening. Not exactly on-brand for sports mascots, the Slug was chosen to reflect UCSC’s belief that sports are less about winning than about the joy of participation and having fun. This critter is definitely one of our favorite mascots, but we’re not the only ones: the Banana Slug was crowned Best College Mascot by the NDCA and Best College Nickname by Sports Illustrated.
Fitted with a real coonskin cap and heavy buckskins, fur vest and flannel shirt, the Mountaineer mascot isn’t just a University of West Virginia mascot. He’s a hero of the entire Mountain State. The man behind the rifle represents more than just sports, reminding West Virginians all over of the strength, curiosity, and independence of the frontiersman. Although his major duties include attending to all WV’s sports games, you know what they say: a mountaineer is always free. Every year, the Mountaineer can be seen making the rounds at over 250 off-campus events.
According to Sports Illustrated, Uga the Bulldog is the number one college football mascot! And it’s easy to see why. From trying to bite an Auburn player, to posing for cute pictures with little Dawg fans, Uga and his antics are hard not to love. For Georgia fans, though, Uga deserves to grace the cover of something more like Vanity Fur. The bulldog’s on-field home is simply royal, a permanently air-conditioned doghouse located next to the cheerleaders platform (best spot in the house, of course). And the entire lineage of Ugas - I through VIII - are buried in personal marble vaults near the stadium’s gates, accompanied by bronze epitaphs. Talk about royalty.