The Only Analysis That Matters - Part 4
(EDIT 6/19/06 - Thank you Kansas State fans for your profane tirades, it's obvious that any attempt at humor completey skipped the Little Apple. I've deleted several comments that were way out of line for this blog and will continue to do so. There's an e-mail link at the bottom of the page, you can flame me with that if you absolutely have the need too).
This whole College World Series business and then that World Cup thingy sort of interfered with the important task or rating mascots, and for that I apologize. So after a several day hiatus, we're back with the Big XII and it's collection of live animals roaming the sidelines. Something about the wideopen spaces of the midwest must cater to having a 2000 lb. live animal wreaking havoc on opposing marching bands - but we're not going to complain. If you just stumbled into this, the introduction and ACC are [HERE], the Big East is [HERE] and the Big 10 is [HERE]. Without futher ado - on to the Big XII.
Strengths: They could rip your head off? The fact that the Baylor bears (there are several at any point in time) are all named "Judge" after one of the long term mascots in the '60s is a neat tradition as well. Baylor really supports the bear program, there's an entire staff at the school dedicated to the bears, and they each have their own individual Bear Trainer.
Weaknesses: None. They are real live bears, claws and all.
Rating: Baylor gets the Big XII off to a great start without a hint of suck.
Strengths: It's a huge full grown buffalo, the symbol of the American west and possibly the largest mascot in all of college sports. When Ralphie comes running out before the games, you can be darn sure nobody is trying to get in her way.
Weaknesses: They didn't know it was a male or female for a while (at that size, it's not like you need a microscope to figure it out) - but that's not Ralphie's fault.
Rating: No suck in sight, simply one of the best mascots in college sports.
Iowa State Cyclone
Strengths: Pretty much nothing - though I guess the costume is baggy enough it could be a good sleeping bag if neccessary.
Weakness: There's no shape to the costume, it's just a fuzzy red bag. The head looks bad, and the mesh grill in between the beak is lame (yes, we know the human inside has to see - just don't keep reminding us of it with the costume design). Of all the "dressed up human" type costumes, this is one of the worst. Oh yeah, it has nothing to do with "Cyclones" either. Miami couldn't make a hurricane costume, but they still got something somewhat related. CARDINALS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CYCLONES.
Rating: Sucks, sucks, sucks. Still not even the worst mascot in the conference though.
Strengths: Extremely unique and with a strong historic background. The Civil War began on the Kansas / Missouri border in the late 1850's, and the free state ruffians from Kansas were named "jayhawkers". While the actual bird is an early 20th century creation and has gone through several variations, the roots are very much from the Civil War era (Lawrence was burned and sacked and massacred by Missouri raiders - there's a reason the rivalry is so bitter).
Weaknesses: Some say it looks a bit like a Toucan or some other common cartoon birds. This is pretty weaksauce as complaints go.
Rating: Unique with Civil War roots? No suck here.
Kansas State Wildcat
Strengths: It's just a head, so you can be a basketball player, a football player or even ride a Harley with ease.
Weaknesses: Everything. This is the worst mascot in all of college sports. It's just a head, which is lame in and of itself. The "Powercat" logo that it's derived from is recent, and was a dead copy by coach Snyder of the Iowa Hawkeye logo (where he had been previously). Oh yeah, "Wildcat"? Which local high school did that come from?
Rating: It's purple. It's unoriginal. It's a lame generic nickname. The mascot's name "Willie" isn't even unique (Northwestern's has the same name). AND IT'S ONLY A HEAD. Quite simply, the worst mascot in major Division 1 sports.
Strengths: "Truman" is named for President Truman, a Missouri native and the nickname comes from another Civil War era unit (similar to the Jayhawks) and dates from around 1890 - so I can't be too harsh on the generic nickname and mascot choice.
Weaknesses: The costume is way too cartoony if you are going with the "ferocious wild animal" theme, and there's is no excuse to ever be photographed pulling a Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.
Rating: Sucks. There's only one school that pulls off "Tigers" well, and this isn't the one.
Strengths: Looks like a farmer husking corn (at least the regular one - the inflatable one is just downright frightening).
Weaknesses: Just a boring and generic mascot, it's a guy wearing a red costume. Quite honestly, with the simple and elegant "N" helmets and classic red and white uniforms - shouldn't NU just go with the Michigan or Indiana model and skip having a mascot? Unfortunately, NU has gone for not one but two mascots, and neither are anything exciting.
Rating: Sucks. Nebraska might just be better off without a mascot at all.
Oklahoma Sooner Schooner
Strengths: Pretty funny that a school coached by Switzer and on the NCAA's permanent watch list is nicknamed after a bunch of cheaters - it's quite fitting. The actual Sooner Schooner rumbling around the field is certainly different from anything else in college sports (closest thing I can think of is GT's Ramblin' Wreck). While it's not a true "mascot" it works for the purposes of this competition.
Weaknesses: At it's core it's a wagon that dragged families around, which couldn't have been that exciting.
Rating: Doesn't suck - I love the tradition.
Oklahoma State Cowboy
Strengths: "Pistol Pete" is named in honor of former US Marshall Frank Eaton, who was a guy you'd rather have on your side than against you. Back when the law was more of a moving target in that part of the country, he was the law:
Frank then set out on the trail of his father's killers. First was Shannon Campsey, Frank killed him on his own front porch. Doc Ferber was next, he was shot off of his horse with "two forty-five slugs through his breast". John Ferber would have been next, but the day before Frank caught up with him, he was shot for cheating at cards. Frank went to his funeral just to make sure he was dead. At John Ferber's funeral, Frank met a Deputy United States Marshal who was on the trail of the same men. After talking about the men, Frank was offered, and accepted a commission.The costume itself is pretty gritty, and the unshaven whiskers are a nice touch and you can sort of smell the whiskey on the mascot's breath just looking at it. Oh yeah, Golden Tornado got our photos next to the official Pistol Pete statue with (surprisingly similar to the mascot) Eddie Sutton himself, so that's got to count for something.
Weaknesses: It's really just a plastic head on a human body, but the costume is so solid the rest of the way around we're cutting it some slack.
Rating: We're afraid if we gave it a grade of "suck", Frank Eaton would come from the grave with a Winchester after us. Doesn't suck for sure!
Strengths: Animals the size of family cars are impressive enough, but when you tack on horns wider than I am tall you get a truly great mascot. Combined one of the best logos in all of sports, the longhorn steer on the sideline is a 1-2 punch that is hard to beat.
Weakness: Can you imagine having to clean up after Bevo? That's a job that can't be popular.
Rating: No suck at all, great mascot, great tradition and great cheerleaders (had to mention those).
Texas A&M Collie
Strengths: Live mascots are always a bonus, and Reveille is a great name that fits with the tradition of the school, along with being a gorgeous dog.
Weaknesses: Did you know A&M had a live mascot? Somehow Reveille flies under the radar.
Rating: Texas A&M has one of the best fanbases and gameday experiences in the country. There is nothing associated with it that sucks, and Reveille is no different.
Texas Tech Red Raider
Strengths: Looks like Yosemite Sam, one of the more underated cartoon characters of all time. There is also an extremely cool Masked Rider that has only been at home games since 1971 because of rules surrounding live animals at away venues.
Weaknesses: This guy has an important part to play along with the mascots in gameday celebration.
Rating: Doesn't suck. We really like the Masked Rider tradition, and as far as "stuffed mascot" types go, the Red Raider costume isn't bad either.
The Big XII only has 4 mascots that suck out out 12 schools, for a very strong 33% suck ratio that vaults them clearly into first place and might prove to be insurmountable by the Pac-10 and SEC (edit - I had originally written this with only 3 mascots that sucked, and upon further review we decided that a 4th should join that list. Of course, I need an editor badly and forgot to change the percentage in the final paragraph before I posted. If you see a comment below related to this there's your explanation). The combination of clever mascots with strong history (KU and OSU) and the best collection of live animals on the sidelines in all of college football is a very strong effort by the middle of the country.