Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Portland Has a #1 PG

Portland has officially traded Sebastian Telfair for the Boston Celtic's 1st round pick tonight (#7 overall) and Dan Dickau. This trade means that Portland and Nate McMillan feel that Jack is the PG of the future for them, and he will enter next year as the primary option in the backcourt for them. Along with Martell Webster he will form one of the larger and more physical backcourts in the NBA, and should fit well with McMillan's style of basketball. Congratulations to Jarrett.

The Only Analysis That Matters - Part 5

If this is new to you, read [here], [here], [here] and [here] ... it won't make sense (nothing on this blog ever does), but at least you'll get a feel for what on earth is going on here. With that as the backdrop then, lets dive straight into the wild, wild west and examine the mascot worthiness of the PAC-10.

Arizona Wildcat

Strengths: My uncle is a U of A graduate, and still lives in Tuscon (which is a beautiful town with Mt. Lemmon right outside, etc). Outside of the family ties ... not much to go on here.

Weaknesses: The stuffed mascot exists because they killed the live one by leaving it tied to a tree where it fell and hung itself. Good work there. On that fact alone they deserve a "suck" rating, but it gets worse. Having a wildcat for a mascot in the first place? Lame. Naming your mascot "Wilbur" and then having it get married to "Wilma"? Lame. Big baggy costume that is pretty much interchangeable with any of 6 other mascots we've ranked so far? Lame.

Rating: It's probably karma from killing off the original (and very not suck) live mascot, but Wilbur and Wilma suck.

Arizona State Sun Devil

Strengths: He's a flaming devil, and following the basic rule of "if it's evil it's always cooler" that earns bonus points. The fact that the original flaming imp Sun Devil logo was supposedly drawn to resemble Walt Disney because the artist had been fired by him certainly has to add to it's cache.

Weaknesses: Pretty weak costume here, just a head and what looks like some extra padded sweatpants with flames on them. "Sparky" isn't the strongest name either, but nothing here is really too big of a violation of the mascot suck standards.

Rating: Pretty cool, and certainly doesn't suck.

California Bear

Strengths: It's a hippy mascot for a hippy campus, with sort of a dorky "cool" that fits Berkeley. Also, as the flagship university of the state of California, it's fitting for the bear to be used since it is such a longstanding image of the state. "Oski" is a pretty cool name as well, derived from a turn of the century cheer.

Weaknesses: Oski wears jeans. No mascot should wear jeans, ever. He's also got a permanently dopey look (much like many students at Berkeley come to think of it) that makes you think he's been dipping in the chemistry lab's stock on a regular basis.

Rating: Sucks. This is a tough one, because if I went to Cal I'd probably love Oski for being quirky and different - and normally in these ratings quirky and different has been held up as not sucking. But jeans and that dopey look? That's something only an alumni could love.

Oregon Duck

Strengths: It's a green version of Donald Duck.

Weaknesses: It doesn't just look like Donald Duck, it IS Donald Duck. Really going out on a limb there (what's with the PAC-10 and Walt Disney by the way?). Worse, Nike recently sponsored a newer mascot costume that looks like Roboduck and is worse than the football uniforms.

Rating: Sucks. Get your own mascot and logo, don't leech off of an American icon.

Oregon State Beaver

Strengths: It's better than the other mascots in OSU's bizarre mascot history. A coyote? A bulldog? Some guy who used to throw his hat in a river? The beaver is better than all of those combined.

Weaknesses: There used to be a married couple of mascots (Benny and Bernice) but that has thankfully been done away with. Also, the current mascot costume has only been in use since 1999, when the older "cuter" costume was put to rest. Any time your new mascot is referred to as the "Angry" one because it's looks edgier ... that's not good. Stop playing with tradition.

Rating: Sucks for getting rid of the old cute one that sort of looked like the Minnesota gopher. That one didn't suck.

Stanford Tree

Strengths: Uniqueness has been rewarded to this point - and the tree is unique, there's no doubt about that. The tradition of each student making their own tree costume lends itself to all sorts of interpretation, and while some are just awful ... some others are really good. Also, the tree recently was cited for public intoxication while performing at a basketball game. Wearing a giant costume and having to put up with pawing children would drive us to drink as well, so we fully understand.

Weaknesses: Well, it's a freaking tree for one - and some people just can't get over that fact. Also, some trees have made terrible costumes for themselves, which we simply cannot defend.

Rating: Doesn't suck. I love the unique tradition of making your own costume, I love the randomness of picking a tree as a mascot to begin with and I love the goofball looking costumes that come out each year. I know a lot of readers won't agree with this one, but tough luck - on our rating scale, the tree doesn't suck at all.

UCLA Bruins

Strengths: They're bears, and the general bears in California rule that applied to the Oski also applies here.

Weaknesses: Can we please stop with the couples mascots? Is this something endemic to the west coast? The costumes are too cute, the whole "couple" thing is too cute, everything is just sugary and cute about the Bruins. Combined with gold and light blue uniforms ... lets just say it isn't exactly the sort of thing that brings football to mind. I know it's L.A and sunny southern California and things just aren't the same there ... but come on.

Rating: Sucks.

USC Trojan on Horseback

Strengths: Hangs out with the Trojan cheerleaders and their ridiculous sweaters. That alone makes him the coolest mascot out there in our opinion. The mascot is actually the horse, named Traveler - which means there's big white horse rounding the stadium with a fully dressed Trojan on his back? Sign us up right now. Throw in the fact that Traveler's first game was the home opener against Georgia Tech in 1961 (remember, GT used to be a huge name ... throw us in the wayback machine and we're in love) and it's tough to top.

Weaknesses: None. Along with Renegade at Florida State, Mike the tiger at LSU, Ralphie at Colorado and maybe a select couple of others, this is one of the best mascots in college athletics.

Rating: Incapable of sucking.

Washington Husky

Strengths: Washington has had a live husky or malamute on the sidelines since the 1920's, and despite the recent addition of a costumed mascot (who most certainly sucks), the dog continues to be the star of the show. We love live mascots, and Prince Redoubt is a gorgeous dog.

Weaknesses: Has to share the stage with this terrible excuse for a costume.

Rating: Doesn't suck.

Washington State Cougar

Strengths: Long standing tradition of live cougars as mascots was finally ended in 1978 in Pullman, and while we love live mascots - keeping a live predator as a safe mascot at sporting events has to be tough, so I understand the move to a costume. "Butch" is pretty safe as mascots go, nothing edgy or too exciting, but nothing terrible either.

Weaknesses: It's a "safe" costume ... aka "boring". It's pretty generic, and without the very cool WSU logo on it could be mistaken for any number of regional high schools or small colleges with big cat mascots.

Rating: Doesn't suck, but not particularly memorable either.

So the Pac-10 registers a respectable 50% suck percentage, bouyed by a couple of unique and/or live mascots and without any true stinkers like some of the other conferences have had. All in all, a showing that would make our friends over at Heisman Pundit happy, but they are unfortunately unable to overcome the lead that the Big XII has built. It's up to the SEC to try and topple them next.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Great Ones

Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo are the two greatest soccer players of my generation, guys who made the remarkable normal and each one capable of taking a team on their back and winning the biggest of competitions. Both had a definitive moment in a World Cup final where they basically willed their teams to win (Ronaldo in '02, Zidane in '98) and won countless times in their domestic leagues. They are older now, and certainly not as good as they used to be, but both today showed they still have flashes left in them as they are on their way out - it was great to watch them shine for what might be the last time on the world stage. They are the only two men to ever win three seperate FIFA World Player of the Year awards and are always going to be tied together in my memory.

It's hard to remember now, nearly 10-12 years later, the young explosive Ronaldo, the one with the speed, balance and power combination that would have made him one of the greatest running backs of all time if he had grown up in the United States. In the mid-90's with Barcelona and Inter Milan, he was the best player on the planet and maybe the best pure goal scorer who had ever lived. He would emberass multiple defenders with a bewildering array of moves, and had that heartless finishing ability that never left a chance wanting. 47 goals in 49 games in his last campaign with Barcelona is simply remarkable, a testament to his unwavering nose for the goal. As he has aged (and put on quite a bit of weight) that pure explosive speed that always seems to remind me of Gale Sayers has left him, but the quick feet and eyes in the back of his head for oncoming defenders is still there. Watching today's goal where he deftly stepped around the keeper and slotted it home with the opposite foot he made the move with was vintage Ronaldo - you could almost see him at his prime in a Barca shirt leaving the keeper sprawling in the dust without the ball in sight. Ronaldo was O Fenômeno (The Phenomenom) at 17, and it hasn't quite faded out yet.

Zidane, the one who looked like he was 40 at 20 because of the bald pate and the ever present 5 o'clock shadow. The one who held the keys to the engine of France's golden generation and brought the first ever Cup home to Paris after a scintilating performance in the '98 final where the distributor took on a new role putting two balls in the net to secure the title for France. If Ronaldo would have been a running back, Zidane would have been a quarterback - with the awareness to always hold off the defense around him while picking out his teammates with pinpoint accuracy. Zidane's teams always won, that was a common theme. Players made entire careers out of finishing chances generated out of the midfield by him - and then when it was needed most he could come up huge himself (the full volley winner in the '02 Champion's League Final was just ridiculous). Zidane is possibly the most clutch athlete I have ever seen in any sport, he was just spectacular on the largest of stages. Watching him today running the French attack and holding off his retirement for at least one more match, including scoring a terrific goal in stoppage time was vintage.

Enough soccer, I promise - the PAC-10 mascot rankings tommorow!

Monday, June 26, 2006


Two things have slowed down the posting regularity here on Golden Tornado - a move in progress to NYC and the fact I've been glued to the TV watching the World Cup. A number of better college football bloggers than myself have been providing commentary on the spectacle in Germany, but after this weekend's terrific Argentina v. Mexico matchup in the first knockout round of the tournament I've finally got to add my piece.

I'll preface my comments by admiting I'm an Argentina fan, dating to my college days when a suitemate was an Argentinian national and got me watching every one of their matches (including the epic England showdown) in the '98 Cup. After the disaster that was the '02 Cup for the light blues, this year's team has a lot to prove and a number of young stars looking to make their mark after the generation of Veron and Batistuta has finally moved (or in Veron's case - shoved) on.

What makes college football special to me is the passion and the pageantry, the rabid fans and the uniqueness of each game's atmostphere. In many ways, soccer mirrors this. College football is strongly regional, with many of the residents of each state identifying more with the football team bearing the same name than with anything else. There's a sense of community and "ownership" that all but the smallest of professional teams seems incapable of duplicating. When you think about it, most of the nations in the World Cup are of similar size to US states (Texas has 20 million people, the Netherlands has 16 million) and the deep rooted identification with the local team lends to the same type of passion and energy in the fans and the games. Add in strong nationalistic feelings in many of those countries and give them an excuse to wave flags and get hammered and you have one heck of a loud, exciting and sometimes rowdy crowd.

As the Mexico v. Argentina match drew on towards the end of regulation tied 1-1, you could feel the pulse of the stadium through the TV, and see it on the faces of the players. Many on both sides were completely spent, but they were still playing at an exceptional level. As overtime began, you knew that people around the world were glued to their TV's regardless of rooting interest just enjoying the performance being put on. When Maxi Rodriguez thundered home a goal on a supreme individual effort in the 98th minute it was the only fitting way to end one of the best matches of the past several Cups, anything less would have cheated everyone involved.

Make no mistake, in the grand scheme of sport - that was a tremendous goal. I'm sure thousands of words will be written about it far more eloquently than what I can say (most of them in Spanish), but for the stage and setting you will be hard pressed to find a better performance. It was overtime of a knockout match in the World Cup, an event that only comes along every four years, and involved two soccer mad countries who's national worth is in some ways measured by the performance of their teams in this tournament. Add to it the technical dificulty and asthetic beauty of the strike, and you have a permanent member of every highlight reel for the next decade.

Even if you're not a soccer fan, the chances are that if you are reading this blog you are a fan of sports in general. You owe it to yourself to at least give the Cup a shot - while the rules, players and teams might not be known to you,the passion, pageantry and the pure enjoyment of world class athletes performing on the biggest stage shouldn't be.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Snapshots of Omaha

I haven't had time to finish my full commentary on my trip to Omaha, but here's a few pictures to try and capture the feel of the event. For those of you who have never gone, it's a terrific sporting event - one of the best I've ever been to. My wife and I had an absolute blast, and will certainly be back (click on the pictures for larger versions).

View from our seats in the right field bleachers in the first game

The infamous "Pauli's" at night

View from the press box at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium (side trip on Saturday)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Going to Omaha?

If you are going to be in Omaha this weekend for the opening games on Friday and Sunday - shoot me an e-mail or if you have a facebook account you can send me a message here. I'm going to try and say high to some folks and have a blast for the weekend. I've never been to the CWS, and it's only a 2.5 hour drive from me now - I have no excuse not to be there.

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.

Baylor Bears

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.

Colorado Buffalo

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.

Kansas Jayhawk

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.

Missouri Tiger

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.

Nebraska Cornhusker

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!

Texas Longhorn

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.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tom Zbikowski's Bout at MSG

A story of some note has been that Notre Dame's star safety Tom Zbikowski was going to fight a professional heavyweight fight in Madison Square Garden this offseason. Zbikowski has been fighting amatuer fights for some time as part of the Golden Gloves program, and obviously is a terrific athlete. The video of the (very short) fight is here - and Zbikowski just destroys his opponent in a very one sided first round, taking him from the opening bell.

Unfortunately for Zbikowski, I don't think this guy is going to prove to be such a tomato can.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


The GT baseball team will be here ... along with the 7 other best teams in college baseball. Congratulations to a terrific season for Coach "Fire" Danny Hall and his team.

I'm going to be there with liveblogging and photos, it's a short trip from the Kansas City area. If you are going - email me from the link at the very bottom of the page. What a great weekend (and hopefully Trap isn't seriously hurt).

Friday, June 09, 2006

TV Overload

Georgia Tech kicks off the Atlanta Super Regional at 12 noon EST on ESPN, and Germany and Costa Rica kick off the World Cup at the same time on ESPN2 - my TiVO is going to be working overtime. If you are in the Atlanta area, head on down to the Rusty C, the weather hurt the attendance for the regional, and then the early start time today isn't going to help pad the post season coffers. College of Charleston is a very good team with a stud pitcher (Nick Chigges) who can easily win this series on the back of their pitching. I've got a pretty solid vested interest beyond just the GT fan connection, I live only a couple of hours from Omaha and will be up there if GT advances (I might go anyways, but it'll be much more fun with GT there).

If you are looking for the mascot ratings for the Big XII, SEC and Pac-10, I'll be back with the next installment on Monday - it's GT baseball here for the weekend.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Only Analysis That Matters - Part 3

If you want to know what on earth is going on, read [HERE]. We've already covered the ACC [HERE] and the Big East [HERE] - so up today is the Big 10. The Big 10 gave me some problems, because I had to figure out what to do with Michigan and Indiana, two schools without mascots (and if Michigan had a live wolverine on the sideline, the Big 10 would have been the automatic champions). In the end I decided to take the cowards way out and just give them "Incomplete" ratings and calculate the standings without those mascots in consideration. So on to the Big 10.

Illinois Chief Illinwek

Strengths: Terrific costume (love the bare feet) and tradition. Illinois as a state is named after an Indian tribe, and as the flagship university for the state the name and mascot seem to fit.

Weaknesses: Embroiled in a nasty controversy over racial insensitivity, and currently the NCAA has banned Illinois from hosting any postseason events - already forcing the tennis team to travel instead of hosting as it had the right to this year.

Rating: Doesn't suck - I really like the mascot and the NCAA needs to get it's grubby PC nose out of the situation.

Indiana (Nothing)

Strengths: Can't suck if you don't have one

Weaknesses: Complete lack of a mascot?

Rating: Incomplete

Iowa Hawkeye

Strengths: Cool and original mascot (derived from a character in "Last of the Mohicans") with strong history and tradition in the state.

Weaknesses: Absolutely terrible costume. If there's one thing we absolutely do not like, it's mascots that are basically nothing but a big head (Kansas State is the worst offender here, but that's in a couple of days). "Herky the Hawk" is really nothing more than a plastic head and somebody wearing a football/basketball uniform. This always ends up looking dorky, like some mutant bobble head doll.

Rating: Sucks

Michigan (Nothing)

Strengths: A Wolverine would be cool - if they had a mascot.

Weaknesses: Again, not having one?

Rating: Incomplete

Michigan State Spartan

Strengths: Spartans were some tough jokers, and anyone wanting to emmulate them gets my respect. We liked the Rutgers mascot - and Sparty the Spartan is really the grandaddy of that look. One of the most detailed costumes in the college ranks, down to the bulging forearm muscles and straps on the sandles.

Weaknesses: He's named "Sparty". That's lame (naming your mascot an abbreviated or modified version of itself is an automatic weakness in the competition, see: Ramses the ram). Also, Spartans isn't quite to the level of "wildcats, panthers, bulldogs, tigers" in the generic naming race - but I'm pretty sure everyone can name a local school with that nickname as well.

Rating: Doesn't suck, the costume is cool enough to overcome "Sparty" and the fairly commonplace school nickname.

Minnesota Golden Gopher

Strengths: High marks for originality and costume cuteness here, you're not going to mistake it for anyone's elses, that's for sure. Goldy has adorable puffy cheeks you just want to grab and go "goochee-goochee-goo!" like your grandmother used to do.

Weaknesses: Goldy? Come on - that's right there with "Sparty" in the "we really couldn't come up with anything interesting for our mascot's name" competition.

Rating: Doesn't suck - but the name is terrible.

Northwestern Wildcat

Strengths: Has a full body costume, unlike the other "Willie Wildcat" who also wears purple.

Weaknesses: Can't catch Jerry, and if a "wildcat" can't catch a stinking mouse it's far from "wild" and far from intimidating on the field (coincidently, sort of like Northwestern Football).

Rating: Sucks. Not as bad as the other Willie Wildcat, but that's not saying much.

Ohio State Buckeye

Strengths: First off, props are due for actually making a mascot out of a nut in any way, shape or form (the first efforts weren't so good though). Managing to make him look kind of like Bomberman is only an added bonus.

Weaknesses: As with Herky the Hawk, it's just a head and a guy wearing a rugby shirt and sweatpants. That's not going to cut it here, where a bit more overall costume effort is required.

Rating: Sucks - the rule of thumb here is that mascots that are just a head suck. Even if they are nuts.

Penn State Nittany Lion

Strengths: Original name, even if it's just another way to say "panther". Sort of off the direct topic of the mascot itself, the "WE ARE! PENN STATE!" chant that he helps getting everyone into is one of the best in college sports and sends chills down our spines.

Weaknesses: The costume flat out bites. It's from the same rack as the generic bag shaped messes that Pittsburgh, UCONN and others wear. JoePa has donated a ton of his own money to the school for educational purposes and construction, maybe he needs to chip in for a suit that doesn't look like it cost $89.99 on sale at the local variety store.

Rating: Sucks, the costume is lamer than lame and "Nittany Lion" isn't enough to save it.

Purdue Boilermaker

Strengths: He carries around a big hammer, making him one of the very few mascots we wouldn't mess with (and you don't want Tech students messing with a mascot - ask Aubie).

Weaknesses: Of all the Big Ten's "just a head" mascots, Purdue Pete is the worst. A giant plastic gourd with creepy looking eyes and a skinny dude wearing a football uniform does not make a mascot - it makes a freak show.

Rating: Sucks. Stop scaring the kids.

Wisconsin Badger

Strengths: Actually looks like a badger, while still remaining clever and "mascotty". One of our favorite mascots in the country, the badger is epitome of what a college mascot should be. Fun, cute enough that kids love it while still remaining an obvious symbol of the university.

Weaknesses: Bucky? Gah.

Rating: Absolutely no hint of suck to be found here. Feel free to Jump Around in celebration.

Due to the fact that the Big 10 seems to be in love with "just the head" mascots, only 4 of the 9 eligible mascots earn Doesn't Suck rating, giving the Big 10 a 55% suck percentage - currently good for second place behind the Big East but ahead of the ACC. Up next, the Big XII and the largest collection of live mascots in the country, along with a couple of the absolute worst.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Only Analysis That Matters - Part 2

Alright, if you have no idea what is going on - or if you want to read the first conference review (the ACC) then click [HERE]. Otherwise, we're diving right into the Big East.

Cincinnatti Bearcat

Strengths: It's not a bear and it's not a cat - it's BOTH! Originality (sort of), instead of sticking with one of the standard 8 mascots, they brilliantly combined two of them!

Weaknesses: What sound would a bearcat make? GRRRR-MEOW? And that cat half, what kind of cat is it? A grumpy siamese or a kick butt leopard? Looking at the mascot, you can't really tell - meaning it's probably just a stock issue tabby.

Rating: Sucks

Louisville Cardinal

Strengths: It's a bird with teeth, which is pretty darn cool. Making cardinal chomp faces with your teeth exposed on the side of your mouth is fun (try it, seriously). The Cardinal is the state bird of Kentucky, which is a mitigating factor for the "generic mascot 101" choice.

Weaknesses: In a league of unoriginal mascots, this one still manages to be represented in two seperate professional leagues as well as countless high schools and other colleges. Outside of the whole teeth bit, there isn't anything here you can't find in a bunch other places.

Rating: Doesn't Suck - the teeth and the fact that it's the state bird save it.

Pittsburgh Panther

Strengths: Wannstedt looks like he has a Panther attached to his upper lip - which earns style points for coach and mascot coordination. Supposedly Pitt was the first college to use "panthers" as a nickname, but we find that hard to believe.

Weaknesses: Again, the "generic high school" naming syndrom is in full effect here. The Big East has a serious problem in this area, and the Panther is a pretty egregious offender. Rule of thumb - if you are going to have a generic nickname, have a cool (preferably live) mascot. Unfortunately for Pitt, that's not the case. Furthermore, could you pick between the Panther and the Nittany Lion if you met them in the street? Do they save money at the schools by sharing the same costume?

Rating: Continues the Big East suck parade.

Rutgers Scarlet Knight

Strengths: It's a red knight, except it sounds even cooler and more sophisticated with the "scarlet" designation. Brings to mind Sir Launcelot searching for adventure in the forests of midieval England, saving desperate damsels from the clutches of evil wizards. And who doesn't love damsels?

Weaknesses: Sadly, the mascot looks way less cool than he sounds. A nice suit of armor would really go well here. Also, this is a fairly new mascot ... the original Rutgers mascot was the Chanticleer, which was darn cool in and of itself.

Rating: Doesn't Suck - though it could be an elite level mascot with a better costume.

South Florida Golden Bull

Strengths: It's a bull, and more specifically a Brahman Bull, and that's about as strong as it gets. Definitely more original than most of the rest of this conference's dismal collection of retreads, and Florida even has a bit of a cattle indrustry to fit with it.

Weaknesses: Brahmans are known as extremely docile creatures for their size, not exactly a terribly threatening presence.

Rating: Doesn't Suck

Syracuse Orange

Strengths: Goes well with bacon and pancakes.

Weaknesses: Does it comes complete with an Omega 4000? Seriously though, Syracuse's mascot history is an absolute disaster after they decided to get rid of the human Indian mascot in 1978. A Roman gladiator? Egnaro the Troll?!? (Seriously, a troll?). This went on for over 15 years until the school just settled on a big orange bag with a baseball cap on top. I guess if you've gone 15 years without a real mascot, a blob is better than nothing.

Rating: Sucks, sucks, sucks. One of the 5 worst mascots in college sports. And it's named "Otto".


Strengths: Fairly original, and husky's are awesome dogs. The Iditarod is one of the great American events, especially because of the history behind it and this mascot reminds me of that.

Weaknesses: Last time I checked the Iditarod was in Alaska, and not Connecticut. Also, the costume is pretty bland - almost as if you just ordered the generic white "bear/lion/panther/dog" costume in white from the mail order Costumes-R-Us catalog.

Rating: Doesn't suck, but it's awfully darn close.

West Virginia Mountaineer

Strengths: Looks like Davey Crockett, and every little boy wants to be him. Gets to wear a coonskin cap and carry around a rifle. Wears a fringed jacket. Gets to skip shaving regularly for the benefit of the costume.

Weaknesses: Has to put up with WVU fans, and the gunpowder for that rifle might not be safe around burning couches.

Rating: Most definitely does not suck.

The Big East did better than I thought they would, with only 3 "sucks" for a pedestrian 38% suck percentage - far better than the ACC, who had the unfortunate mishap of getting two of the Big East's worst mascots recently. This places the Big East in first for "my conference is better than yours" bragging rights at the moment, but there are still 4 more to go.