The controversy about UNLV’s Hey Reb! school mascot heated up anew at a student rally on Nov. 17. The rally—a show of solidarity with students at the University of Missouri and students at campuses all over the country who are using the hashtag #BlackOnCampus to discuss overt and subtle forms of racism—became a public forum for continued debate about the Confederate origin of the Rebel mascot. Students at the rally asked UNLV President Len Jessup to revisit the issue of changing the school’s mascot – something that has been a frequent issue during UNLV’s history.
This most recent dust-up over Hey Reb! got us thinking about other school mascots that might be due for a change:
Blobs: Perhaps it’s time for Xavier University to update Blue Blob, a mascot that looks more like something Doctor Manhattan would leave in a toilet than something to rally behind. See also: the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers’ mascot Big Red, also a blob.
Fighting Plants: For some reason, a surprising number of schools have vegetables or fruit as their mascot, including the famous Louisiana pepper known as Ragin’ Cajun and Syracuse’s Otto the Orange as well as the lesser known Fighting Okra (Delta State), Fighting Artichoke (Scottsdale Community College), Fighting Pickles (North Carolina School of Arts).
Grains: The source of high-fructose corn syrup is also the mascot of a surprising number of schools, including Concordia’s Cobbers. Meanwhile, Witchita State’s WuShock (also known as The Shockers) is a bundle of wheat.
Imaginary Friends: If you’re going to pick a mascot, you should probably start by knowing what the heck it is. Even fans don’t always know what the Biliken (St. Louis University) is. And is a Hokie (Virginia Tech) a mutated turkey or does it just look like one?
The Weak: When we think of school mascots, we think of something that will represent the power of our team—the Wolf Pack (UNR), the Sun Devils (Arizona State), the Trojans (USC). We do not think of Banana Slugs (UC Santa Cruz) or Super Frogs (TCU). And nobody is shaking in fear of a seed, aka Brutus Buckeye (Ohio State).
Dumb Mascot Stand-ins: For all the things you can pick to be a school’s mascot—from vegetables to mythical gods—why on earth would you pick something that is not possible to physically represent? There’s Alabama’s Crimson Tide, represented by Big Al the elephant. Because of all the elephants in The South? Then there is the absolutely most ridiculous mascot, Stanford Cardinal, a color. How can a color be a mascot? Don’t worry, they worked around it by translating Cardinal into … a Tree.
Art School Projects: You might ask, do art schools even have sports teams? In fact, some do. And their students have a sense of spirit that is … unusual. Take the Evergreen State Geoduck, which is a large, edible sea clam that looks surprisingly like male genitalia. Speaking of male genitalia … meet Rhode Island School of Design’s unofficial (but official) Scrotie The Nads – which is exactly what it sounds like.