How do you like your mascot?
As much a part of college football as tailgating and touchdowns, mascots can rev up the home crowd, intimidate an opponent or just provide a few laughs.
Most college mascots support their university in a somewhat dignified manner; but there’s also the strange world of leprechauns and dancing trees.
With help from the AP’s college football poll voters, the news service has picked the 12 coolest mascots — a dandy dozen if you will — in the country.
1) Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado. Her (yes, Ralphie is a female) size (1,300) and speed (25 mph) combination would have Ralphie soaring up Mel Kiper’s draft board. Unfortunately for CU fans, many home games in recent seasons have peaked with her entrance.
2) Uga, Georgia. Normally, dogs in sweaters are hard to take seriously. This English Bulldog, however, could make a tutu look tough. And by the way, don’t even think about trying to put a tutu on Uga.
3) Chief Osceola, Florida State. Many native-American mascots have been fazed out of college sports in a recent years, but with the blessing of the Seminole Tribe the Chief, his Appaloosa horse, Renegade, and his burning spear have endured.
4) Mike the Tiger, LSU. During warm-ups at Tiger Stadium, Mike’s cage is stationed near the visiting team’s tunnel so opponents have to walk by him to step on to the field. Welcome to Death Valley. Please don’t feed the cat.
5) War Eagle, Auburn. OK, the mascot is actually Aubie, a student in a fuzzy tiger suit. War Eagle is the battle cry. But there is a War Eagle, a golden eagle that swoops down onto the field before games and puts the kid in the costume to shame.
6) Stanford Tree. You have to respect a mascot this ridiculous — and irreverent. The costume usually looks as if it came straight from a middle school play, but the Tree has had some very adult issues in recent years. It was once busted for being drunk on the job. The replacement tree later that year was banned from the NCAA basketball tournament for scuffling with security guards.
7) Bevo, Texas. The burnt orange longhorn doesn’t charge like Ralphie or stay in a cage like Mike. But at 1,800 pounds with 72-inch horns, it’s best to steer clear of Bevo.
8) The Mountaineer, West Virginia. Buckskin suits and coonskin caps never go out of style in Morgantown. The mere sight of the Mountaineer can get you humming John Denver’s “Country Roads.” Though the rifle can be a bit unsettling.
9) The Masked Rider, Texas Tech. Maybe the only mascot in the country that can be described as swashbuckling. And since 1974, many of the Masked Riders have been women, so points for being progressive.
10) Sparty, Michigan State. With his jutting square jaw, the costumed mascot sort of looks like a muscle-bound Jay Leno in a green Greek warrior attire.
11) The Leprechaun, Notre Dame. Not to be confused with the guy on the Lucky Charms box, ND’s Leprechaun pumps out push-ups when the Fighting Irish score, wields a shillelagh and supposedly has magical powers. Apparently, his powers were no match for Charlie Weis.
12) The Fighting Duck, Oregon. The story goes Walt Disney himself agreed to let the costumed-mascot resemble the famous cartoon character, Donald. A few years back, when the university tried to nudge Donald aside for a sleek, space-aged duck suit, the students rebelled and the new duck was dropped. Don’t mess with Donald.
More bizarre than cool, our list might also include Sammy the Slug – the official mascot of UC Santa Cruz, who is a representation of a banana slug (a yellow mollusk which can be found in the nearby redwood forests).
Does your school have a mascot? What is it or what’s your favorite team mascot?