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Ranking the top 30 college football mascots of all time

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Ranking the top 30 college football mascots of all time

30. Leprechaun-Notre Dame

Notre Dame at No 30?!

Notre Dame is an iconic brand and college football royalty with the highest winning percentage of all-time. They have Heisman winners, national championships, touchdown Jesus and those classic gold helmets and I think the Leprechaun gets overshadowed by all that tradition and history. Leprechaun isn’t an adorable dog or anything intimidating, but it’s classic Notre Dame.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

29. Cam the Ram-Colorado State

Colorado State used to have a dog as their mascot after alum and Olympic champion Glenn Morris donated an English bulldog named Gallant Defender to serve as the school’s mascot until 1945. The school became the Aggie Rams in 1945 and in 1946 the men’s pep club showed up at a basketball game with a 115-pound ram named Buck. After a contest was run to come up with a name for the ram, Colorado State’s mascot has been named CAM after the Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

28. Sparky-Arizona State

Arizona State used to have an owl and bulldog as the mascot before they became the Sun Devils in 1946. Two years later Disney illustrator Bert Anthony came up with the design for Sparky, a trident wielding devil who sports a mustache similar to that of Walt Disney himself.

(AP Photo/Matt York)

27. Otto-Syracuse

Mascots are usually live animals or humans in animal costumes, but mascot for Syracuse is an anthropomorphic orange sporting a blue hat and blue pants. Otto has served as the Orange’s official mascot since 1995. Syracuse’s original mascot was the Saltine Warrior, but the Native American figure was scrapped in 1978 over concerns about stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

26. Tree-Stanford

No other school could have a tree for their mascot. Stanford pulls off the tree in large part because of the personalities that inhabit the Tree outfit and it changes a bit every year. It gets criticized for being boring but I think the tree is perfect for Palo Alto and Stanford. Every year since 1975 a student has gotten inside the tree suit and brought excitement and a little wild side because it’s been banned from events for unruly behavior.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

25. Goldy-Minnesota

How important is Goldy the Gopher do Minnesota? In 2003, Minnesota unveiled a $95,000 bronze statue standing taller than six feet in front of Coffman Memorial Union. Goldy has even participated in UCA Mascot National Championships, winning in 2011 and 2013. From 1952 until 1990 a member of the Minnesota band played the role of Goldy.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

24. Albert and Alberta-Florida

They are the first couple of college mascots. Albert and Alberta are the official mascots for the Florida Gators adorned in blue and orange suits with Albert making his first appearance in 1970. A live alligator named Albert served as the mascot in 1957 until the costumed Albert started appearing at football and basketball games. 14 years later, Albert would get his female counterpart with Alberta joining him in The Swamp in 1984.

(AP Photo/ Lynne Sladky)

23. Super Frog-TCU

Who would have thought a frog could be so cool? TCU’s horned frogs mascot first appeared in 1897 and showed up on the TCU seal in 1919. Originally named Addy the All-American Frog, the mascot underwent a name change in 1979 with Super Frog the official name for the mascot seen at football, basketball, baseball and other sporting and campus events at TCU.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

22. Ramblin Wreck-Georgia Tech

The term Ramblin Wreck has been used to refer to the Georgia Tech student body and alumni since the late 1800s referring to the makeshift vehicles Tech engineering students made with whatever parts they could get their hands on. A 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe now serves as the mascot for the students at Georgia Tech, and it’s got a much cooler story than the Yellow Jacket that serves as the team’s name. Since 1961, the Ramblin Wreck has led the football team into Bobby Dodd Stadium.

 (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

21. HokieBird-Virginia Tech

The turkey-like figure replaced the Fighting Gobbler at Virginia Tech that first took the field in 1962. In 1981, HokieBird made its debut against Wake Forest but it wasn’t until Frank Beamer returned to Blacksburg that the HokieBird as we know and love it today made its debut in 1987. Naturally, it showed up to the stadium in a white limousine. Today you will see HokieBird lead the team out on the field while Metallica’s Enter Sandman plays, doing pushups or bench presses after every Virginia Tech score and crowdsurfs in the student section.

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

20. Big Al-Alabama

The Alabama Crimson Tide have no logo on their helmets or jerseys so Big Al serves as the official mascot for the historic football program. The elephant dates back to 1930 when a sportswriter referred to the Alabama team as elephants after hearing the loud rumble from the team as they came on the field. The name stuck and officially made its debut at the 1980 Sugar Bowl.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

19. Diesel-Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois went by the Profs, Cardinals and Evansmen before they officially became the Huskies in 1940. The most famous of the mascots to serve for NIU was Diesel who retired in 2013 and is shown in the picture above. We have chosen to remember Diesel, who was replaced by two-year-old husky named Mission, after he retired to spend more time chasing squirrels in 2013 because he entered my personal hall of fame for his ability to high-five NIU cheerleaders.

(AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

18. Blue Devil-Duke

When Duke lifted their ban on football after World War I and needed a new mascot with a catchy name the student newspaper started a campaign to come up with ideas. Of the suggestions, the list was narrowed down to Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Polar Bears, Blue Devils, Royal Blazes, and Blue Warriors. With no favorite emerging from the group, Trinity Chronicle editors began referring to Duke as the Blue Devils. The name derives from French soldiers, the Chasseurs Alpins—nicknamed “les Diables Bleus.”

(Kris Rieser/NCAA Photos)

17. Mountaineer-West Virginia

West Virginia’s Mountaineer mascot first appeared in 1934 and has been a staple at sporting events ever since. Dressed in frontier garb with a coonskin cap on his head and a rifle in his hand, the Mountaineer mascot is one of the more unique in college athletics. A new mascot is chosen each year by the Mountain Honorary, members of West Virginia’s senior class, and while it’s not part of the requirement, many of the men picked grow a beard to really get in the feel of a Mountaineer.

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

15. Sebastian the Ibis-Miami

The Ibis was named the unofficial mascot for the Miami Hurricanes in 1926 and was chosen for the bird’s bravery as hurricanes approach. The Ibis is the last to seek cover when the storm is about to hit and is the first to emerge in a sign that the storm is passing and blue skies are coming. Miami’s first official mascot was a dog, specifically a boxer, but Sebastian was introduced in 1957. Today, Ibis leads the Canes on the field through the white smoke and the costume hasn’t changed since 1984.

 (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

14. Demon Deacon-Wake Forest

Wake Forest doesn’t have much success on the football field, but that’s not the fault of Demon Deacon. The school’s mascot dressed with a more dignified look than other mascots and attempted to resemble that of a real-life deacon. Founded as a Baptist college, Wake Forest originally had a tiger as the mascot and their nicknames were “Baptists,” or “The Old Gold & Black” before they were dubbed the Demon Deacons in 1923 by the student newspaper. It wasn’t until 1941 that the actual mascot first appeared and now you can see Demon Deacon ride a motorcycle on the football field, basketball court and soccer fields.

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

13. Lil’ Red-Nebraska

This choice may be somewhat controversial considering Lil’ Red is the other mascot at Nebraska with Herbie Husker the original mascot of the Cornhuskers. Lil’ Red was created in a statewide contest in 1993 and first appeared at a game in 1994. Herbie Husker had been the school’s only mascot since 1974. Lil’ Red’s inflatable suit pumps in 100 cubic feet of fresh air per minute and allows him to go crowdsurfing and bounce around all over the place. The mascot was inducted in the mascot hall of fame in 2007.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

11. Aubie-Auburn

There seems to be a Tiger team name in every conference, some even have multiple in the same conference, like the SEC with the LSU and Auburn Tigers. So if you’re going to standout as a tiger mascot in a league with several, you have to be special, and Aubie is just that. Winner of eight mascot national championships, Auburn’s mascot is the all-time leader and was one of the first college mascots inducted in the hall of fame in 2006. Aubie was first seen in 1979 and has been a part of Auburn athletics ever since.

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

10. Sooner Schooner-Oklahoma

The Sooner Schooner, pulled by white ponies Boomer and Sooner serves as the official symbol of the Oklahoma Sooners since 1964 and became the official mascot in 1980. With Purdue’s Boilermaker Special, a replica locomotive, and Georgia Tech’s Ramblin Wreck , the Sooner Schooner is one of the rare vehicular mascots in college sports.

(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

9. Sparty-Michigan State

Michigan State’s Sparty mascot was introduced in the 1989 football season with an oversized head of a Spartan warrior adorned with a stylist green Greek costume. The muscular costume with a bit of a cocky expression on the face has been a fixture at Spartans football, basketball and other campus events since the costumed version was introduced. There are two statues on the East Lansing campus with a terracotta statue dedicated in 1945 and a bronze statue erected in 2005. Sparty was inducted in the mascot hall of fame in the 2006 class.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

8. Uga-Georgia

There isn’t a more recognizable or beloved bulldog than that of the Georgia mascot, Uga. The English bulldog has been the official Georgia mascot since 1956 and ever since then each Uga has a descendent of the original. Dressed in a red jersey and spiked collar, Uga is seen on the sidelines of Georgia home games, many away games and a host of Georgia campus events.

Uga has his own air conditioned dog house and to keep him cool in the oppressive southern heat and humidity. The current Uga is the ninth bulldog to be the school’s mascot and his predecessors are interred in a mausoleum near the southwest corner entrance to Sanford Stadium.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

7. Bevo-Texas

Bevo made his first appearance for the Texas Longhorns in 1916 and to date there have been 14 longhorn steers to serve as the school’s official mascot. How different would we view the program if the school stuck with their original mascot of a pitbull? Through the years, Bevo’s burnt orange coloring and long horns have given credence to the fan base’s “Hook ‘Em Horns” saying that is synonymous with saying hello in the Lone Star State.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

6. Reveille-Texas A&M

Reveille is the highest ranked member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and has the rank of Cadet General with five diamonds on her blanket. Students in 1931 brought the original Reveille into their dorms, where pets weren’t allowed, and the name came to be after the dog started barking when Reveille played on the bugle. Since 1966 when Reveille III took over the dog has been a purebred Rough Collie.

 (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

5. Brutus Buckeye-Ohio State

Brutus, an anthropomorphic nut, made his debut in 1965 for Ohio State at their homecoming game against Minnesota. Brutus wears a buckeye heat, block O hat, a scarlet and gray jersey with Brutus and the number 00 on the back and red pants with a white towel hanging over the front and black shoes. The outfit has been worn by both men and women and Brutus Buckeye was inducted in the mascot hall of fame in 2007.

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

4. Puddles-Oregon

Oregon’s mascot is the closest thing to Donald Duck as you can get. Using the Disney character as inspiration for the Oregon Duck that wears green and yellow with a special beanie adorned with the word Oregon on it, Puddles has quickly risen the ranks of college’s best, just like the football team it supports. The school’s relationship with Disney allowed the school to keep the Donald Duck clone in the 1940s but reached an agreement in 2010 to allow the mascot to make appearances at mascot competitions and appear in SportsCenter commercials.

(AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

3. Smokey-Tennessee

The Tennessee Volunteers have a costumed mascot but the real mascot for the Vols is the bluetick coonhound named Smokey. The dog was picked to be the school’s mascot during the 1953 football game against Mississippi State when hounds were introduced at halftime and after “Blue Smokey” was introduced he let out a loud howl and the students responded with a loud cheer.

There have been 10 different Smokey’s to play the role of Tennessee’s mascot and some have even tried to take out opposing players. In 2012, Smokey IX tried to take a bite out of Kentucky’s kicker and in 2006, the same hound was accused of biting an Alabama player. How funny is that?!

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

2. Chief Osceola-Florida State

Chief Osceola and his horse Renegade have served as the official school symbols for the Florida State Seminoles since 1978. Osceola represents the historic Seminole leader and while controversial to some is supported by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Riding his Appaloosa horse, Chief Osceola commands your attention when he rides onto the field and plants the burning spear at midfield and leads the War Chant.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

1. Mike the Tiger-LSU

The coolest tiger in all the land. Mike the Tiger has served as LSU’s mascot since 1936 when every LSU student donated a quarter to purchase Mike I for $750. Currently on Mike VI, LSU built a $3 million habitat for the Bengal tiger that’s 15,000 square feet for Mike to roam one of the finest tiger habitats with lush plant life, waterfall, stream that empties into a wading pond and areas for him to climb. A real-life tiger roaming between the football stadium and basketball arena is pretty intimidating.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


When you go to see a college football game in person most of you are traveling to watch your favorite team come away with a hard-fought win on the gridiron against a conference foe or in-state rival.

Some undoubtedly go for the tailgating and sense of community and school pride that arises when you're eating grilled and smoked meats and pouring adult beverages by the case down your throat. And some are there to watch the band and cheerleaders perform.

But even if they aren't the primary reason for your attendance at football, basketball or any other campus event, the mascots play a significant role in the program. Mascots can be living animals, humans in animal costumes or wacky outfits. Sometimes they're not even animals or people, but rather fictional characters or inanimate objects who are responsible for leading the cheers from the student section in a sold out stadium.

Mascots pose for pictures with students on graduation day, children grow up wearing mascot-themed apparel and are often the most recognizable part of a university or athletic program.

With college football in the middle of its playoff run, now is a perfect time to honor the mascots who are the best at what they do for their program.

There is no scientific formula for picking and ranking the mascots, it's all subjective, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below with your reaction to the list and who should be ranked higher and who was the biggest snub.

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