The Only Analysis that Matters
You know it's the offseason when people are starting up the "my conference is better than yours" rants using whatever form of "analysis" they can mangle to make the evidence fit the already arrived at conclusion (seriously HP, offensive diversity?). Of course, there's the required retorts - both serious [HERE] and not so serious [HERE]. Honestly though, that bickering could go on for ages - similar to the epic arguments in the sandbox we used to have about which Tonka was better.
Here at Golden Tornado, we have an engineering and mathematics background and prefer empirical evidence which can be carefully examined and compared on a level playing field. Unfortunately, most college football statistics do not bear up under this scrutiny - but I have found one variable which we can use. Mascots. Each school has one, and each one can be rated according to it's strengths and weaknesses on a clear scale of "sucks" or "doesn't suck". When added up by conference, a clear leader should emerge.
Of the BCS conferences, the ACC comes first alphabetically (and first in your programs and hearts) and so we'll cover them right now. Over the next couple of days make sure to check in as we get each conference and then unveil "OMG TEH WINNER" of the best conference in America.
Boston College Eagle
Strengths: The Bald Eagle is an American icon, associated with power, grace and freedom from the constraints of Tom O'Brien's offense. When in doubt, a bird of prey is always a safe bet.
Weakness: Everybody grew up in a town with a high school (or four) named the Eagles. No originality and even worse the mascot was a live Golden Eagle for many years until they kept dying, and suddenly the human mascot became a Bald Eagle. Way to keep that tradition going.
Strengths: It's a tiger, which is scary and stuff. Takes chunks out of Las Vegas performers who attempt to tame it.
Weakness: As with the Eagle ... everybody knew a high school with this mascot, and there's about 35 other colleges with it as well. Seriously, when the school was trying to come up with a name, did they reach into the hat with Lions, Tigers and Eagles on slips of paper and come out with one? I'm pretty sure I could find a second grader to come up with something slightly more interesting. If you are going to do this for a mascot, at least have a live one (LSU and Auburn do this the right way). Oh, and he wears overalls.
Rating: Sucks on the grounds of lack of creativity.
Duke Blue Devil
Strengths: Um, carries a pitchfork?
Weaknesses: Everything. First off, gets it's name from a French Army unit which alone is worthy of a "suck" rating. Adds to the misery with a brutal blue costume with some freakish head that looks like it was stolen from Madame Tussaud's future exihibit featuring Coach K, right down to the giant nose and then multiplies the suck by tacking on a hideous goatee.
Rating: Beyond Suck
Florida State Seminole
Strengths: Rides out onto the field in full regalia and throws a flaming spear into the ground. Seriously, a flaming spear. Also pisses off the political correctness police, which is an added bonus.
Weaknesses: The thomahawk chop is getting pretty lame and played out, but that's not really the mascot's fault (and yes, as a Braves fan I can say that).
Rating: Not even the slightest bit of suck
Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket
Strengths: Original, and with a cool backstory (the original fans in the early years wore yellow jackets to games). Rides around in a pimp car. Won a mascot national championship a couple of years ago.
Weaknesses: Eyeballs have no pupils, which has always kind of freaked me out.
Rating: Best Mascot Ever OMGZ!
Strengths: Scores high on originality, and "fear the turtle!" is fun to say. Testudo is a cool nickname, bringing to mind images of Roman legions rampaging through Gaul with ruthless efficiency.
Weaknesses: Well, it's a turtle. And frankly, I've never heard of a turtle hurting people - unless you count ancillary damage to cars that run them over.
Rating: Doesn't suck - but only barely. The Romans save it.
Strengths: Enormously clever and original. The ibis is the first bird to show back up after a hurricane, leading to a cool story as well. Combined with a very cool abstract logo and color scheme gives "The U" high marks from the marketing department and rappers everywhere. Has been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct during both an Orange and Sugar Bowl, truly fitting with the team.
Weaknesses: Looks a bit like Donald Duck, who most definitely is not an Ibis. Also, Sebastian sounds like the name of a Upper East Side hairdresser ... not the mascot of a national championship team.
Rating: Doesn't Suck
North Carolina Ram
Strengths: Again, it's certainly original (unless you count the Navy Goat, but that's another story) - though there's no good reason for it to be a Ram, and it has nothing to do with the team nickname.
Weaknesses: It's named Ramses. For a school so proud of it's academics, you'd have thought some Morehead Scholar would have been able to come up with something better than this. It's not as bad as Columbia naming their lion mascot "Roar-EE" (honestly, Columbia alumni voted for that - doesn't it make you question the quality of education?), but it's close. Also, the live version is an easy target for having it's horns painted by Duke fans after wins because of it's pacificity (notice nobody paints the LSU Tiger). Totally non-threatening.
North Carolina State Wolf
Strengths: It's a wolf, known to eat small children and terrorize the Siberian countryside. Also can blow a house down from time to time. Considering the rabid and irrational behavior of the fanbase from time to time, it describes them perfectly as they size up the next coach to devour.
Weaknesses: Unable to dispose of Amato the Clown, unfortunately - which brings into question it's true ability to intimidate. There's a female wolf mascot as well, and they appear as a pair from time to time named Mr. and Mrs. Wuf ... which is frankly not a noise that wolves make, and it totally unfrigtening and dorky.
Rating: Sucks. It shouldn't, but the female version and the lame name push it down the ladder.
Strengths: Unique, nobody else would dare to have some fruity french guy with a sword except the snobs in Charlottesville. Brings back memories of the 1948 classic "The Three Musketeers" with Lana Turner and Gene Kelly which was a staple of our growing up experience (along with "The Longest Day" and Rocky and Bullwinkle shorts).
Weakness: French. Also reminds us of the truly horrible "The Musketeer", which is unfortunate.
Rating: Doesn't suck - mostly because of Lana Turner.
Virginia Tech Hokie (Turkey, Gobbler, or whatever)
Strengths: Not as trashy as the VT fans and associated with "Beamer Ball" which is frightening enough in it's own right.
Weaknesses: If it's a "Hokie" then why does it look like a turkey? Worse, it looks like the cartoon graphic that Fox always has running around the scoreboard during Thanksgiving day games (with the equally bad gobbling sound effect), which is enough to have us running for the nearest carving knife to stab ourselves - WITHOUT even briging up the fact it then brings to mind John Madden and "Turduckens". Also, he hangs out with Hokie Man - who's a complete loser.
Rating: Sucks, not even Beamer can save this one.
Wake Forest Demon Deacon
Strengths: Scores high on originality and it's nice to see a religious school with the term "Demon" in the title. Turning a deacon into a mascot is a pretty tall task (most deacons I know are just average joes like me), but they make the best of it.
Weaknesses: Tie Die t-shirts, staged props and Zombie Nation. I know those are mostly basketball things and aren't really within the mascot's control, but the stink stays with him permanently.
Rating: Sucks, though to be fair that's partly because he participates in such a cheesey fan section.
So where do we stand after reviewing the ACC? We've got 5 "Doesn't Sucks" and 7 "Sucks" for a very poor 58% suck level. I imagine this will do poorly as move through the competition, with the Big East coming up next. Stay tuned for the end result and send your hate mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org".