What makes a college mascot great? Is it an original identity, or the power of a fancy costume? For some universities, notoriety may come from the bizarreness of the mascot itself. Even if your school has a mascot that may be cringe-worthy, at the end of the day, conveying your school pride is the most important thing. So next time you’re at your college’s athletic or spirited event, give a high-five to your school’s mascot. And if you feel like your school’s mascot is too plain, here’s a list of ten schools with pretty kooky yet memorable mascots.
1. UC Santa Cruz: Sammy the Banana Slug
You wouldn’t imagine a banana slug would produce a feeling of fear in an opponent’s mind, now would you? For UC Santa Cruz students, though, their beloved mascot evokes campus pride. After the university changed the mascot to the sea lion in the 1980s, students continued to rally behind their original beloved yellow slimy mascot. In 1986, students were able to persuade the school’s chancellor to return Sammy back to his rightful throne on campus.
2. Oglethorpe University: Petey the Stormy Petrel
Watch out Sammy the Banana Slug—on Oglethorpe’s official website, banana slugs are mentioned as the mascot’s favorite food! The university’s mascot is a stormy petrel, a seabird, and holds a very symbolic meaning—the school’s motto was inspired from this feathery creature. This isn’t Petey’s only claim to fame—the mascot was also on Animal Planet’s Mascot Madness television show in 2007.
3. Webster University: the Gorlok
Who ever knew that a mascot could be spawned from the intersection of two streets? Webster University’s mascot is a made-up creature whose name was formed from the combination of two streets, Gore and Lockwood, at the university. The mascot, which has elements of a cheetah, Saint Bernard and buffalo, was created in 1984 by students and staff through a school contest. The Gorlok’s number-one strength may be its ability to confuse the opposition with its lack of identification.
4. University of Arkansas at Monticello: the Boll Weevils
UAM possibly has one of the most intriguing mascots for a college or university. The Boll Weevil is a small insect that has a historical background. Chosen in 1909, this insect was a killer to cotton crops prevalent in the South at the time. Today, the pest is probably not so much of a threat, but the university continues to rep it for their athletic teams. The women’s teams use the nickname “Cotton Blossoms” instead, though.
5. St. Louis University: the Billikens
Never has an elf-like creature looked so cool since Harry Potter’s Doby. SLU’s billiken was born from the paintbrush and artwork of Kansas City art teacher and illustrator Florence Pretz in 1908, but she isn’t the figure famous for instituting the mascot for the university. SLU law student John Bender was the school’s football coach at the time, and legend has it that local drug store owner Billy Gunn called him a “Billiken.” William O’Connor, a legendary sportswriter, just happened to be at the right place at the right time—he overheard the comment and used the term for the university’s athletics. The Billiken has pixie-like ears and a small tuft of hair on the top of its head, but despite its strange appearance, it’s seen as a good luck charm. Maybe the SLU athletic record book is the judge of that lucky charm?
6. University of Alaska-Southeast: the Humpback Whales
Described on the school’s website as the “epitome of grace, intelligence and natural beauty,” the humpback whale is no joking matter for the University of Alaska-Southeast. The university hopes to convey a message about the importance of harmonious relationships with wildlife and protection through conservation efforts. With a mascot representing ideas that pure and beautiful, it’s hard to knock this environmentally conscious mascot.
7. Scottsdale Community College: the Fighting Artichokes
This Arizona community college’s mascot was intended to be a source of embarrassment, but later became much more. The college originated in 1969 and during a time of ‘70s unrest, Artie the Artichoke was to signify “a difference of opinion concerning budget priorities,” the school’s website stated. Instead, Artie has found himself as a source of pride for the college and has earned a spot on numerous “strange mascot” lists. Who ever knew that having a healthy mascot could pay off so much?
8. Delta State University: the Fighting Okra
Like Scottsdale Community College, Delta State University channeled the power of food for its mascot. While the university’s official mascot is now the Statesmen, students continue to acknowledge the power and presence of the fighting Okra (a kind of rice) at university and athletic events.
9. Campbell University: the Camels
“You’re a camel, get a hump on you,” was the phrase that seemed to spawn this school’s mascot. According to the university’s website, these words were uttered to Dr. Campbell, the university’s founder and president in the 1930s after the majority of the school’s buildings burned down in a terrible fire. While the university’s original mascot was the “Hornets,” the camels became the permanent mascot in the early 1930s.
10. The Ohio State University: the Buckeyes
Like at Webster University and St. Louis University, Brutus the Buckeye was born out of an art student’s vision, and his name was picked out of a contest. Created in 1965, the Buckeye looked more like something you would find at a bowling alley than football field—the school’s website described the early Brutus as looking like a “bowling ball with legs.” Like any good character, though, a transformation came, and today’s Brutus the Buckeye has a more modern look. The search for the school’s mascot, though, was not this simple. A deer, ram, elk and moose were all early possibilities but lost out. After a rejection of “Chris,” a German police dog, as the school’s mascot in 1941, OSU was officially mascot-less until Brutus was born.