Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Now those are some traditional, if not intimidating, names for college teams. But the Scottsdale Artichokes? The Southern Arkansas University Tech Varmits? Surely you jest. What happened to the days when teams chose names based on their fear factor? Actually, they still exist. In fact, according to Roy Yarbrough’s book, “Mascots! The History of Four and Two Year College & University Mascots and Nicknames” (Second edition, February 2005), the top 12 most used names of four-year college mascots are: Eagles (74), Tigers (46), Bulldogs (39), Panthers (33), Knights (32), Lions (31), Bears (30), Hawks (28), Cougars (27), Pioneers (27), Warriors (27) and Wildcats (25).Still, there are some head-scratchers out there. Just take a look at some of these:
- The University of Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils don’t sound like menaces … except maybe to the women’s mascot: the Cotton Blossoms.
- The Hardrockers at South Dakota Tech aren’t named for their affinity for heavy metal. The term comes from the college’s focus on mining.
- At Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Wash., the students are called “Chokers.” Sure it sounds scary … till you learn it’s a logging term. (Never call any other athlete a choker!)
- Tired of being referred to as the “dark horse” of college athletics, Colby College in Waterville, Maine chose to call themselves the White Mules.
- The Praying Colonels of Centre College in Danville, Ky. sound like they’re low on confidence, but the name stuck for a reason. When the team’s coach, Charlie Moran, asked players to pray for a victory prior to a big 1917 game, they did, and they won.
- The University of California-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs — a past winner in the first annual Funniest College Nick-name Championship on http://www.sportsuniversity.com/.