As you may know, The NCAA has been playing their Tournament the past 3 weeks (aka "March Madness," aka "that Bracket you filled out that went bust on Day 1"), taking 68 hungry teams until only 1 is left, the champion.
But much, Much, MUCH more importantly, I have taken it upon myself to rank all 68 teams by their team name, or Mascot. To be clear, when I say Mascot, I don't mean the furry wretch that jumps around the cheerleaders and tries to paw at them. I mean the Platonic embodiment of the team name itself.
In other words, I want to know what would happen if a shark were to battle a Samurai, if Hornets went toe to toe with Lynx, and so on. I have ranked the team names on the following criteria:
Awesomeness - obvi
Badassery - similar to but not the as Awesomeness
Speed/Strength/Durability - the "measurables"
Meanness - This helps win battles
Indigenous Atrocities - some of these names are not cool! (Also, fair warning; I am blissfully inconsistent about which historical atrocities bug me and which do not. Deal with it.
Please leave any comments you have below, and let's get to it!
#68 SOONERS (Oklahoma) - OU was the first college basketball team I really cared about (the Stacey King, Mookie Blaylock days), so you can see I play no favorites with these rankings. Hopefully you know that the name "Sooners" comes from the great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 (opening the land for settlers to claim a plot of land) and how "some" of the settlers jessssst couldn't wait and snuck over "sooner" than they were supposed to. (This might sound familiar to you: it was depicted in FAR AND AWAY with Tom and Nicole.) All that's fine, cute even, but here's the problem: Way back in the early 1800s, after breaking innumerable treaties (and directly defying the Supreme Court, why or why is Jackson on the $20? but I digress), many Native American tribes were forcibly marched from their homelands in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi (and a few other places) West. Namely, Oklahoma, which became Indian territory. Look into the Trail of Tears and find out why your country is not as great as you think it is. Fast forward to the late 1880s, and settlers (read: white people) are now claiming land in Oklahoma. Where did the American Indians go? AGAIN, treaties broken, forced off the land, the same old story, death and destruction. (And the government is STILL doing it to them. Check out United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians, among other cases. Not to get too preachy (okay, definitely to get too preachy), but the Sooner name, while perhaps an endearing story on its own, hearkens to one of the most shameful (AND CONTINUED) acts of law-breaking treaty-ignoring despicable behavior any civilized government has conceived. And thus, it lands the Sooners at the bottom of our list. (I promise, things get cheerier on ahead: lots of dangerous animals and stabbity dudes.)
#67 HOOSIERS (Indiana) - "Hoosiers" are people from Indiana. Why anyone would brag about that is beyond me.
#66 AGGIES (Texas A/M) - An "Aggie" is just someone who does Agriculture, although they decided to use a "rough" collie for their physical mascot.
#65 TAR HEELS (North Carolina) - supposedly the name comes from the "vast pine forests" of NC and turpentine and bunch of other nonsense. I'm not buying it. LAME.
#64 FRIARS (Providence) - With the sole exception of Friar Tuck, I'm not sure these dudes are beating any one up in a mascot fight.
#62(tie) GOVERNORS (AUSTIN PEAY) and COMMODORES (Vanderbilt) - I'd be more impressed if Vandy called themselves the Robber Barons; that's what old Cornelius was! And who brags about being a governor?
#58(tie) WILDCATS (Villanova, Kentucky, Arizona, Weber State) - The High School where I graduated were the Wildcats, but I show no favoritism.
#53(tie) BULLDOGS (UNC Ashville, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Yale, Butler) - a little bit less boring, but major points off for being so ubiquitous.
#52 GAELS (Iona) - These were Scottish warriors, and most of the fighting men are higher, but I don't like how they treated the Outlander chick, so they go down here.
#50 MOCS (Chattanooga) - Not generally a fan of naming a team after a bootie, but you could have talked me into Moccasins. HOWEVER, major downgrade when they shortened it to Mocs. Own your name, 'Nooga!
#49 DUCKS (Oregon) - I love the creativity of the Oregon University Athletic Department. I love all the uniforms. I loved Chip Kelly's football program, and I have the Ducks winning it all on my Bracket this year. But a duck is a duck. I guess they could quack you to death, or whatever that noise is Donald makes.
#48 BULLS (Buffalo) - Normally an animal this fierce and chinashopwrecky would go quite a few spots higher, but I'm mad at all bulls at the moment. (THEY KNOW WHAT THEY DID.)
#47 TERRAPINS (Maryland) - They couldn't've picked the snapping turtle or the giant ones that live 150 years? These things wouldn't scare a mouse!
#46 FIGHTING IRISH (Notre Dame) - They couldn't even hold on to Northern Ireland; how good at fighting could they be?
#43(tie) CYCLONES (Iowa State) and HURRICANES (Miami) and GOLDEN HURRICANES (Tulsa) - I learned that Cyclones and Hurricanes (and for that matter, Typhoons) are the same thing; the only difference being in what part of the world they occur. Not sure what Tulsa's up to with the "golden" angle, but they aren't getting extra love from me.
#42 UTES (Utah) - On the one hand, I really really really don't like teams having Native American names. Yes, some are worse than others (If I ever meet you, Daniel Snyder, fair warning....), but I find them all outdated and unnecessary. That being said. Utah THE STATE is named after the Utes Tribe. Like, the entire state. And that wasn't done mean-spiritedly or nonchalantly, but to honor the fact that Utah had belonged to the Tribe for a very long time. So I'm a little more ok with the state University having the name Utes. Although, it does make for quirky grammar. The Utah Utes, or, "Land of the Utes Utes."
#41 HAWKEYES (Iowa) - Also named after Native Americans, or in this case one particular dude. A long time ago a newspaper was called Hawk Eye to honor Black Hawk, a studmuffinly Chief, and this led to Hawkeyes. This is nowhere near the same sacrilege as the Washington Racial Slurs, so I'm cautiously ok with it.
#40 BEAVERS (Oregon State) - Best dam animal around! (I spent some formative years in Oregon; do not overlook the benefit of affording kids the opportunity to talk about a great dam animal without getting into trouble.) No one is going to confuse a beaver with some of the more vicious similarly-sized creatures in its class (remind me to tell you about the time a giant deformed Nutria came out of the creek behind out house and almost swallowed my sister whole), but name me one other animal that can stop a river! (Or at least make the river change its mind.) That's power, baby!
#39 ORANGE (Syracuse) - Originally from the Dutch Protestants, Syracuse says its team name represents the color, not the fruit. On the one hand, orange is a cool color, on the other hand....it's a color.
#38 RAMS (Virginia Commonwealth) - Rams are tough (and mean!), but if I went to a rival school I would get everyone to call VCU "the Buttheads."
#37 OWLS (Temple) - This is an actual picture of an owl in flight. You can't tell me the owl doesn't realize there is a camera on him. Terrifying! People don't realize how powerful owls can be (mostly because owlets are so cute), but they are very much raptors. Plus, the whole Linda Blair head twist thing.
#36 LONGHORNS (Texas) - Much like myself, I bet longhorns hate living in tight-corner houses. Although I suppose they mostly live in barns and fields and stuff, but you know what I mean.
#35 BADGERS (Wisconsin) - I'm not a fan of Wisconsin the basketball team (mostly because of POS Bo Ryan), but I have to admit, badgers are pretty badass. Fearless, mean...even their name means they are annoying you! I'd love to train a couple as guard-badgers.
#34 BUFFALOES (Colorado) - Technically they should be called The Bison, but we'll cut them some slack, seeing as its Colorado. I love me some Bison, and if I could go back in time to the Oregon Trail, I'd kick a lot of settler ass for virtually wiping them out.
#33 HUSKIES (Connecticut) - Whether you're trying to win the NCAA Tournament or the Iditarod, Huskies are good to have. (Do you think the UCONN men's team feels shamed that the UCONN women's team outclasses them in every way?)
#32 MOUNTAINEERS (West Virginia) - I assure a real mountain man from West Virginia is not this clean-cut, or have product in his hair, or wear American Apparel. They are some tough dudes (and dudettes), though, and one can hardly blame the school for not making the icon more authentic.
#31 BOILERMAKERS (Purdue) - I'm not gonna lie: I've only the vaguest understanding of what a boiler is or does (something about hot water, right), but that only makes me respect these guys more. Look at him! He's welding what looks like a copper toilet! I could never do that.
#30 FLYERS (Dayton) - "Flyers" refers to the Wright Brothers, who, even though they made their fame flying at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were from the Dayton area. (Ohio, much like Canada, likes to claim ownership of anything they can think of.) On a serious note: those early aviators were no joke. Flying was literally life or death for quite a few years, and you had to be extremely brave to get up there and find out.
#28(tie) MUSKETEERS (Xavier) and CAVALIERS (Virginia) - One has to admit they dudes are handy with a sword (despite the name, musketeers fought far more with swords than guns), but there's something...I don't know....kinda foppish about them, amirite?
#27 CRUSADERS (Holy Cross) - I realize the world has gone a little too P.C. lately, but c'mon guys. Have you read about the Crusades? They were not Christianity's finest moments! On the other hand, I suppose the savagery done by those Crusaders lends itself well to toughness in our rankings. Still....you wouldn't see S.S. soldiers as a mascot. (Although a hundred years from now, you probably will. Sigh.)
#26 KNIGHTS (Fairleigh Dickinson) - Understandably many of the Knights were also Crusaders, but many weren't, and in Europe Knights were pretty unstoppable. (Until they met the Mongols. Why can't we have a Golden Horde? They'd wipe all these so-called warriors to pieces.) I have to admit I'm also adding points because of the cool commercials for Assassin's Creed, which I have never played, but I would (most likely) rule.
#23(tie) TROJANS (Southern California, Arkansas-Little Rock) and SPARTANS (Michigan State) - Again, apart from my beloved Mongols, some of the best fighting men in history. I would rank Spartans a little higher (because I wrote my best review ever for 300), but you have to admit, Trojans are good at Defense. You know, protection. (heehee)
#22 LUMBERJACKS (Stephen F. Austin) - If I'm making a list of things I can't do, guess what goes pretty freakin' high up there? CUTTING DOWN THAT TREE! Lumberjacks are about as manly as a man can get. I'm not even sure underwater welders have them beat.
#18(tie) RED RAIDERS (Texas Tech) and BLUE RAIDERS (Middle Tennessee State) and PIRATES (Hampton, Seton Hall) - Everybody loves Pirates! Not sure what's up with making some Red or Blue (there are Purple Raiders, too, who sadly play in a lower division), but nonetheless: Pirates! ARRRRRRRRRRGH!
#17 JACKRABBITS (South Dakota State) - Admittedly this ranking is way too high, but I have a (possibly disturbing) love for these critters. We had a guy on my baseball team when I was 11 named Jimmy Sloop. You could not keep him from stealing bases. My coach called him quick as a jackrabbit, and just like that I was transfixed. (Also figuring into my ranking: the incredibly scary rabbits from Watership Down, which still haunt my nightmares.)
#16 BLUE DEVILS (Duke) - It's almost astonishing how "normal" it is to hear about Blue Devils, because of Duke's prominence in national scholastics and athletics (among other things). I mean, think about it: DEVILS! True, they're blue, but still....these things are from hell!
#15 PHOENIX (Green Bay) - There is something poetic about an animal that burns to ash and then rises again, especially in Green Bay, where I would imagine they burn many a bird (and anything else they can find) to keep warm through the 10 months of winter.
#14 RAINBOW WARRIORS (Hawaii) - Look at that logo! It's magnificent! It's the Dr. Seuss book that shoulda been written. I have no idea what sets a Rainbow Warrior apart from a regular Warrior, but anything to do with Hawaii and I'm in.
#13 SEAHAWKS (UNC Wilmington) - Objectively hawks are fast, powerful and deadly, but I'm now wishing I'd ranked them lower because of that stupid-looking mascot. Shouldn't enter into my deliberations, but whaddyagonnado?
#12 HAWKS (Saint Joseph's) - Now he's a majestic hawk, and it gets the slightly higher rank because it's not limited to the coastline. I like my birds of prey versatile, baby!
#11 EAGLES (Florida Gulf Coast) - As awesome as hawks are, they don't hold a candle to eagles. You can spend hours on YouTube watching videos of eagles carrying off monkeys, goats, small children, orcs, Volkswagen Beetles....okay, maybe not that last one, but I wouldn't be surprised. Eagles rule!
#09(tie) PANTHERS (Northern Iowa, Pittsburgh) - A leopard that can hide in shadow! I wish I had seven of them. You can keep your Dobermans and Pit Bulls - my house ain't EVER getting robbed!
#08 BEARCATS (Cincinnati) - Another overranking by me, mostly because I am endlessly fascinated with bearcats, which are officially called Binturongs. Go do some Google Image searching: they really do seem like a cross between a small bear and a giant cat! And, they are impossibly ugly in the most adorable way. I think they'd win most battles on looks alone.
#04 WOLVERINES (Michigan) - Did I say badgers were fierce? Take that times a zillion and you have the wolverine. Scared of literally nothing and willing to eat literally anything - a fantastic combination. I'm not kidding about the fearless thing. It's genetic. Wolverines will not back away from a wolf, a pack of wolves, a bear, or even a B2 Bomber. (Yeah. I went there.)
#06 JAGUARS (Southern) - I give them more credit than Panthers because their mottled skin actually helps them hide in many more topographical situations. AND, Jaggies are the third biggest cat, behind Tigers and Lions. (And let's not forget the V12 variant.)
#04(tie) BEARS (Baylor) and GOLDEN BEARS (California) - Everyone knows bears are the BEST! So high is my love of bears that I am actively trying to get Koalas and Pandas to NOT be called Bear, as they so obviously aren't. (Inferior beasts.) Of all the animals that could develop anything close to human-like intelligence, after the apes I think bears stand the best chance. Don't be surprised if they are ruling the world some day. (Fun Bonus Fact: the name Beowulf is actually a kenning of Bee + Wolf, which meant Bear!)
#03 JAYHAWKS (Kansas) - I'm sure you've heard of the Civil War, and all the bloodshed, death and such. but what you don't know is that the ten years BEFORE the war, specifically in Kansas, made the war itself look like a tea party. What were they fighting for? Whether Kansas would be a Free or Slave state. The fighting was hella-fierce, much closer to what we'd call terrorism and savagery today than any rule-bound war. The Pro-Slavery side were called Border Ruffians (which would make a great band name, no matter what its origins), while the Anti-Slavery fighters were called Jayhawkers. I'm not going to lie: many of the Jayhawkers committed what we'd call today (and even back then) vicious war crimes. HOWEVER, they were on the right side of History, and more importantly MY side of history (not being a fan of Slavery), so I put them up here. Perhaps inconsistent with other rankings, but to quote the great Martin Luther: "You don't like it? Make your own freakin' list!"
#02 SHOCKERS (Wichita State) - "Shockers" refers to a shock of harvested wheat, so central to the early (and even today) Kansas economy. I know you're wondering: why would I put a shock of wheat this high? AHEM. Um, this might just have to be one of those mysteries. But the mascot is adorable, is he not? Just look at him? What's that sign he's doing? It....must be a W, for Wichita, right? Yeah....that must be it. (Somewhere my mother is becoming very suspicious, but also afraid to inquire further.)
AND, the #1 Team Name in this year's NCAA Tournament, able to defeat all others in combat and still score with the chicks is.....
#01 SEAWOLVES (Stony Brook) - When I first heard about Stony Brook making the Tournament I was excited. "Seawolves" is another name for Orca, aka Killer Whales, the most underrated intelligent animal on earth. THEN I found out that the name referred to actual wolves, and I was kinda sad. Plus, it seemed a little bit lame. Wolves in the sea? BUT THEN I found out that the story of the Seawolf comes from the Tlingit tribe: a mythical creature that brings good luck to those able to see it. Mythical Seawolves? That are mostly invisible? Endorsed by Native Americans? I'M IN, BABY! I AM SO IN! That earns the #1 spot in our rankings.
Here's hoping you spot a Seawolf,
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