November 14, 2008
Mascot Power Rankings
1. Uga VII (Georgia)
Big points go to any school that uses a live animal as its mascot, and no one does it better than Georgia. Uga VII travels in an air conditioned dog house, has a school ID and roams the Sanford Stadium sidelines -- when he's not resting on a bag of ice. A direct descendant of the bulldog that traveled with the 1942 UGA national championship squad, Uga is the closest thing we have to mascot royalty, and that alone is good enough for the top spot in our Fall 2008 rankings.
2. Monte (Montana)
Monte rides a motorcycle, wears a leather jacket and bandana and does back flips. Oh yeah, and he's a grizzly bear. He's everything Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were in Easy Rider, and the only reason he's not No. 1 is he's not a real bear. Something for you to work on, University of Montana.
3. Mountaineer (West Virginia)
In another example of real is better, the Mountaineer finishes third. This guy wears a coonskin cap, real buckskin and sports his own unruly beard. He also carries an actual rifle, which we assume he used both to make his wardrobe and earn his job.
4. Big Red (Western Kentucky)
I have no idea what Big Red is, and frankly neither does Western Kentucky or Wikipedia or anyone else I've ever asked. He's red and furry and sort of amorphous. The best explanation I've run across comes from Brendan Quinn at College Hoops Heaven, who says he's (it's?) the "love-child of Grimace and Clifford the Big Red Dog." Whatever. He's/it's No. 4.
5. Oski the Bear (Cal)
You might not be able to tell just by looking at him, but Oski the Bear is a bear. He looks more like a kindly, old, Leave it to Beaver-era chap wearing a classic college sweater. At least until he starts drinking beer through his nose, that is. Turns out he's also a pretty big hit with the ladies, even at just 5-foot-7.
6. Bucky (Wisconsin)
Bucky's legacy dates back to the 1940s, when an actual badger patrolled the sidelines during Wisconsin football games. I know it's hard to believe, but they had to scrap that idea because the animal was unruly and mean. Enter Bucky -- a one-man push-up machine who doesn't wear pants. Seems like an improvement.
7. Chief Osceola and Renegade (FSU)
There might not be a better pre-game ritual than Chief Osceola riding to midfield to throw down his flaming spear. Charisma, horseback riding, intimidation, tradition. He's everything a mascot is supposed to be.
8. Smokey (Tennessee)
Some mascots go without pants (Bucky) and others could use a makeover (Oski), but one mascot just flat out knows how to dress. Smokey wears an orange tuxedo no matter the occasion, and in the era of Crocs, that's a good thing. Smokey was Bruce Pearl before there even was a Bruce Pearl.
9. Cobber (Concordia College)
Concordia's mascot is a freakin' corncob! He's got leafy green arms and something on his head that's either wispy pieces of corn husk or the best blond head of hair this side of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Either way, Cobber may or may not be intimidating. We haven't decided.
10. Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State)
He's got a giant western mustache, chaps, pistols, a fortyish-gallon hat and the most weathered face of any college mascot (sorry, John Harvard). But to bring everything full circle, one of the best things about Pistol Pete is he's based on a real person -- a guy who wasn't even named Pete! Go figure.
By Josh Zembik
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