Funniest and Most Bizarre College Mascots
College mascots exist to get crowds at sporting events riled up and to spread school spirit across campus. So when reviewing these odd mascots, past and present, it’s difficult not to wonder what some of these student bodies were thinking.
Elon University – The Fighting Christian
In the 1930s, the mascot of Elon University became the Fighting Christian. Prior to this, the school had been known by many different nicknames. The Fighting Christian mascot is reminiscent of an angry leprechaun wearing the hat of an Amish man with his fists poised for a brawl. It is said that this nickname was chosen for Elon due to its neighbors, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Duke Blue Devils. In 2000, however, the school mascot was officially changed to the Phoenix, in remembrance of the 1923 fire that nearly destroyed campus.
Slippery Rock University – Rocky the Rock
Most mascots are animals, or at the very least living things with some sense of spirit; however, for this Pennsylvania school with no official mascot, the next best thing turned out to be a rock. The unoriginally named Rocky, also known as “the pride of the rock” became Slippery Rock’s unofficial representative through the combined efforts of the Student Government Association and Department of Athletics.
University of Hawaii – Rainbow Warriors
Prior to 2000, the athletic teams at this tropical college were known as the Rainbow Warriors, expressed through a tribal Hawaiian man ironically wearing very few colors and covered in war paint. After the turn of the millennium, some student athletes argued that the rainbow was a controversial symbol of homosexuality, and in response the university allowed each team to name themselves. Today, the men’s teams are variations of the original Rainbow Warriors name (including Warriors, or Rainbows) and the women’s teams are known as Rainbow Wahine (often called the Rainbows or the ‘Bows).
Western Kentucky University – Big Red
The big red blob that represents the Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers at Western Kentucky University was created by a student in 1979. Although it was meant to symbolize student spirit, with Big Red’s head shaped like the hill that the university sits upon, over the years its meaning has been overlooked or lost entirely. In 2004, for instance, Big Red was the center of international controversy when a former Italian Prime Minister claimed that Big Red’s likeness was stolen from Gabibbo, the mascot for a popular Italian television network.
University of Central Florida – Citronauts
In 1969, the University of Central Florida decided upon its first mascot: the Citronaut. What is a Citronaut? It’s an alien with the body of an orange. That’s right, the first UCF mascot was something out of this world. We’re happy to report that in 1994, the university took a more fearsome approach. The UCF Knights are now finally represented by its namesake, a knight named Knightro who can be spotted riding a horse or custom car (designed by the school’s engineering students, of course) around campus.
Rhode Island School of Design – Scrotie
Count on those creative design students to come up with what is easily the most bizarre mascot on this list. Nicknamed Scrotie, the RISD unofficial mascot is a full set of male genitalia donning a red cape. The school shows no shame in cheering with this person-sized penis. Contrarily, the club basketball team on campus is called the Balls, and the hockey team is called the Nads. Their cheerleaders who support the Nads are referred to as the Jockstraps. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Scrotie was designed in 2001 specifically with the hockey team in mind.
Stanford University – The Tree
After several failed attempts at creating an effective mascot – including the French Fry and the Steaming Manhole – the Tree was first seen at Stanford University in 1975 at a marching band performance. To this day, it remains the official mascot of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, and although it is the unofficial mascot of the college, it is both popular and controversial, consistently earning the school much more attention than its official mascot, the Cardinal. Controversy behind the Tree includes an incident in 2006 where the person wearing the Tree was spotted drinking from a flask during a basketball game, and later was found to have twice the legal driving limit in California.
University of North Carolina School of the Arts – The Pickle Jar
Another popular but unofficial mascot, the Fighting Pickle made its first appearance at UNCSA in the early 1970s. The name “Pickles” was chosen based on a student body vote for naming the football team. The nomination for this name was accompanied by the slogan, “Sling ‘em by their warts!” In the spring of 2010, the Pickle Jar was chosen as the new mascot of the Fighting Pickles.
Scottsdale Community College – Artie the Artichoke
While this certainly sounds like a pointless, laughable mascot, it first graced the college community under serious circumstances. In the 1970s, students created Artie to protest the school’s spending priorities; specifically, the distribution of scholarship funds. Although he was originally intended as a blemish upon the school’s reputation, Artie the Artichoke was a hit among students, athletes, and staff members alike. He remains a beloved icon throughout the community today.
Dartmouth College – Keggy the Keg
Having declared no official mascot allows this school to maintain three unofficial representatives at athletic events, the most beloved of which is Keggy: an anthropomorphic beer keg donning a big grin, created by members of the campus humor magazine in 2003. Keggy instantly polarized the student body and administrators alike; however, by the time “Captain Keggy’s Carinval Cruiser” made an appearance at the 2005 Winter Carnival celebration, Keggy was embraced by all as an essential part of Dartmouth culture.