Friday, August 20, 2010

OK. I'm Back: College Mascots

I apologize to all three of my regular readers (!), who have eagerly been awaiting a word from the prophet.

Of course, I'm kidding, but as a new program year approaches in the parish it's time for me to get in the blogging habit again.

I've always been fascinated by college mascots. I remember going to my first Naval Academy football game with my dad (vs. Syracuse) and wondering about the goat on the sidelines. Like the USNA, most schools originally had a real animal for a mascot, but now either include a larger animated one (think of those big Disneyland characters) or they have replaced the live animal altogether. (I guess it can be a little unnerving to have a live cougar on the sidelines.)

For instance, the Army mule has undergone a transformation from this:

to this:

(Army still has the real mule on the sidelines, just as Navy has the goat in both real form and "cuddly' form.)

In any case, there are some fascinating mascots out there in NCAA land. My own Alma Mater (UC Riverside) has a "Highlander" as a mascot (the first Chancelor was Scottish and the campus is sorrounding by the Box Spring Mountains). However, the mascot is a bear wearing Scottish tartans. The reason? The bear has long been a symbol of California and the bear is the mascot of both the main campus of the University of California (Berkeley) and the Los Angeles campus (the Bruins). So, UC Riverside kept the bear theme with a twist:

UC Santa Cruz kept to the blue and gold theme, but jettisoned the bear altogether (what would you expect from folks in Santa Cruz?!) to become the Banana Slugs! As you can see from this next picture, an "animated" slug works much better for games and functions than an actual slug:

One mascot I didn't know existed was the Whittier College "Poets." (Richard Nixon being the most famous alumnus of that small Quaker school.) I'm not sure how they got the name "Poets," but the logo sure is clever.

That's all for now. Go team!