Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Northwestern's Willie the Wildcat

Northwestern University

Mascot: Willie the Wildcat

Resembles: Tom of “Tom and Jerry” – and now a homeless cat

Known for: Being a boring, cookie-cutter costume, duplicated by high schools all over the country

Willie the Wildcat is so lame. I mean, this mascot is just so… vanilla. Kind of like the university it represents. Why the heck is Northwestern in the Big Ten anyway? I don’t suppose Chicago being the third largest media market in the country has anything to do with it…

Northwestern should have kept their original mascot used back in 1923, which was a live, caged bear cub from Lincoln Park Zoo. He had an awesome name – “Furpaw”. On the morn of each game day, Furpaw was driven up Lake Shore Drive (in a Model-T Ford or something?) to greet and inspire Northwestern fans. But after a losing season, poor Furpaw was sent to the glue factory, after being deemed a bad luck charm.

The school gleamed the name “Wildcats” from a Chicago Tribune article that reported, “The Northwestern football team fought like Wildcats yesterday…” Northwestern decided it perfectly expressed the team’s fighting spirit and thus they became the Wildcats.

Willie the Wildcat was created as a logo in 1933, and in 1947 brought to life by the Alpha Delt fraternity during a homecoming parade. Some members of the frat designed the head, while their mothers sewed the rear section of the costume (i.e. Willie’s ass). The first Willie required two people to fill the costume; one for Willie's front and one for Willie's rear end. Was this the birth of the two-person horse costume? I've always thought that was a little creepy...like, what's going on in there?

The next year, in 1948, Willie discovered his feminine side when two chicks donned the cat costume. This posed a problem when Northwestern played Notre Dame. The conservative Catholic school had a standing rule that no females were allowed on the field. Therefore, two-girl Willie was stopped at the gates of the South Bend stadium. After lengthy negotiations, and some dirty looks from the judgmental Touchdown Jesus, officials gave the women special permission to appear – a major victory for women everywhere!

In 1949, the chick version of Willie ran into some trouble again – this time with the cheerleaders of the mighty Purdue Boilermakers. Not realizing there were two Northwestern babes in the cat suit, some male Purdue cheerleaders picked up the wildcat and threw the feline into their Boilermaker mascot (not sure if we're talking the Boilermaker Special or Purdue Pete.) After hearing feminine “shrieks” the Boilermakers apologized - such class!

In 2007, Willie got a makeover - or actually, a makeunder. I think Willie just let himself go. He stopped shaving his cat beard, his fur/pants/whatever got all baggy, and he accumulated stains all over his "00" purple jersey. I think he's living in the hard streets of Evanston. But my biggest question is this...where the heck did his eyes go? And his fangs fell out!? Give that cat some kitty dentures! Poor blind, fangless Willie. I could suggest a good no-kill shelter in Lincoln Park.

Now I think Northwestern should have taken cues from the other Willie the Wildcat - from Kansas State University. He scores major points for his OUTRAGEOUSLY huge cat head. I mean, that's REALLY disproportionate. And don't you think K-State Willie's head looks more like a shark? Maybe there was a sale for shark heads at the costume shop and K-State just glued on some whiskers.

Overall rating: 4 out of 10
Willie is freaking generic. It was even hard to find info about him on the Internet, because no one cares. And the updated Willie just got worse. However, he does get some points for not wearing pants. Really disappointing - Northwestern is an elite school– can’t they use some of that brain power to come up with a cool, more clever mascot? What a sad, sad cat.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ohio State's Brutus Buckeye

THE Ohio State University

Mascot: Brutus the Buckeye

Resembles: A neckless nut boy

Known for: His fear of squirrels, and promoting marijuana

Et tu, Brutus! Brutus the Buckeye is another favorite of mine, I have to say. After all, it is an incredibly stupid idea to stick a nut on top of a human body. And that’s why I like him. In 1965, Ohio State students Ray Bourhis and Sally Huber decided Ohio State needed a mascot. At the time, many schools brought live animal versions of their mascots to games. The initial idea was a buck deer, but that was thought impossible to use – maybe it would have gotten lose and gored some kids in the horseshoe or something. So instead, the buckeye nut was chosen, since the Buckeye is the official tree of the state of Ohio.

The road to the modern Brutus is as rough as potholes on I-71. He started out as some 2nd grader’s paper-mache project, making his grand entrance at the Minnesota vs. Ohio State homecoming game on October 30, 1965. (Coincidence that this scary thing appeared the day before Halloween?) Shockingly enough, the piƱata consistency lasted a whopping two weeks in Ohio’s crappy weather, and it was replaced with a fiberglass shell.

Then something went REALLY wrong – in 1975, Brutus just got all CREEPY. It was like a California Raisin mated with the guy from “Mask”. Sweet Jesus. Who the hell thought this would look good?

So, let's review this:

In 1977, Ohioans couldn’t stand the creepiness any longer, so they went back to the first Brutus nut, only this time he gained 60 additional pounds – 80 pounds total – to now cover the waist of the schlep wearing the nut body. He also gained a baseball cap… and apparently became a mute (no mouth) and cross-eyed. He also looks like he got roughed up a bit (probably from Pete's hammer), or perhaps he had some bad acne scars. Poor nut.

Finally in 1981, Brutus went back to being just a nut head, and with several facelifts and a scarlet and grey rugby shirt, we have Brutus as he is today. But I have to ask, why does Brutus wear that little towel over his nutty parts? Ohio State’s lack of balls? Hmmmmmmm.

And while we’re asking questions, here are a few more I have:

1. What’s with the “THE” of “THE Ohio State University”? As opposed to “AN Ohio State University”? or “HIS” or “HER” or “OUR” Ohio State University? Listen guys – it doesn’t make you sound more prestigious. In fact, it’s just annoying. Valiant effort, however.

2. What’s with the buckeye leaves on the helmets? Are those really the leaves of a “Buckeye tree,” or are they another type of earthy, organic, groovy kind of leaf? Check out this Ohio State player once he took his helmet off...

3. Why are Ohio State fans such cry babies? Like, whoa – it’s going to be OK. I think we’re being a little too dramatic here – although this touching piece on You Tube did make me feel a bit sorry for Brutus, as he wept from last year’s national championship loss to Florida… Alas, poor Brutus...

After that loss – actually two national championship losses to Florida - Brutus’ mental state took a serious hit. He became especially violent to his rivals, by fatally beating the Michigan Wolverine (once again Michigan – it’s pretty sad when other schools have to make a mascot for you. The Wolverine clearly deserves to wear a tutu.)

And by ripping off the Florida Gator’s tail, (thoroughly upsetting Albert Gator’s wife, Alberta Gator.)

Brutus also reported vicious night terrors of his greatest fears…

Here's a video of Brutus' worst fear, as he's relentlessly chased and mauled by an angry pack of blood-thirsty squirrels. I love it.


But, Brutus is a tough nut to crack, and he’s up and at ‘em again this year. Although, he doesn’t realize this Saturday he’s about to meet the toughest nut cracker of them all…

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
Brutus scores high for a lot of reasons, I mean - he’s a freaking nut with a human body. Inanimate objects always score higher than boring animal mascots. He has that stupid, frozen goofy grin (botox Brutus?) and notice that Brutus is one of the few fully dressed mascots – I might have given him a few extra points if he was missing pants, like the Wisconsin Badger, or bearing his chest like Smokey the Bear. But, he’s darn cute with a disproportionate head - so high scores from me, Brutus!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Penn State Nittany Lion

Penn State University

Mascot: The Nittany Lion

Resembles: A teddy bear with fangs

Known for: Crowd surfing, break dancing, golfing and being the Big Ten’s cheapest looking costume of all times

Seriously – how the hell did Penn State translate this ferocious beast, to look like this silly giant teddy bear? Oh – but they added four “fangs” to make him look scary. Are other teams supposed to be intimidated by this thing? It looks like one of those jerky, mechanical animals from the Chuck-E-Cheese band.

The Nittany Lion was first developed at a baseball game against Princeton in 1904. (The same year Joe Pa started coaching.) Harrison “Joe” Mason, a member of Penn State’s baseball team, was shown a statue of Princeton’s Bengal tiger mascot before a game against Princeton. Embarrassed that Penn State didn’t have a mascot, Mason instantly fabricated the Nittany Lion, as the "fiercest beast of them all," who could overcome the Princeton tiger.

Over the next few years, Mason's "Nittany Lion" won such widespread support among students, alumni, and fans that there was never any official vote on its adoption. He never even got a name. How about “Ninny” the Nittany Lion? Think about it.

Uh, Mr. Nittany Lion – you might not want to mount your own statue. Nice white tennis shoes – or I guess they’re called “sneakers” on the East Coast, right?

So what the heck is a Nittany Lion? It’s essentially an ordinary mountain lion (also known as a puma, panther or cougar – but not the kind who scour bars for younger men.) This creature roamed central Pennsylvania until the 1880s (when Joe Pa was born). It’s called a “Nittany” lion after nearby Mt. Nittany. Nittany is believed to be a Native American term for “single mountain.”
I find it interesting that the majority of the time, the Nittany Lion is naked, except for a blue and white striped scarf. Why the scarf? Is he cold in Pennsylvania? Well, after a little digging on google images, I discovered the reason for the scarf. And it goes back to this costume being extremely cheap.

In this photo below, the Nittany Lion left his scarf back in his mountain cave - thus exposing the CHEAP-ASS ZIPPER up his front. What the hell? Seriously, Penn State – can you not afford a better costume? At least try.

Cool – the Nittany Lion can golf! But check out the cheap seam on the side of the costume. Give his pelt some extra fur to cover that up, for God’s sake! Just a suggestion. And look at the droopy, stringy tail. Sad.

The Nittany Lion can break dance – without cardboard! That’s pretty cool.

But this is NOT cool. What is going on here? How did this get past the Penn State censors? This photo is seriously disturbing. (But I feel totally fortunate to have found it. Score!) I wonder if he discovered if he’s a girl lion, or a boy lion?

A head band, leg warmers, and some tight man-panties. Where have I seen this before? Oh wait a minute…

Good call on skipping the baby oil, Nittany Lion. That would have seriously tangled your pelt.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10
The Nittany Lion is yet another animal mascot. But, he’s an incredibly ghetto mascot, especially for representing a Big Ten school. There are high school mascots better than this. And that’s why I love him. Go teddy bear with fangs, go! He could have earned extra points, however, if he would learn to be more selective in his growling at home games. Why not save that annoying cougar sound for touchdowns only? Seriously – that noise comes on for gaining two yards. Less is more, Nittany Lion.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Notre Dame Leprechaun

University of Notre Dame

Mascot: The Fighting Irish - an unnamed, fiercely annoying leprechaun

Known for: Being magically delicious! And super annoying at football games.

Honestly, I don’t know how much I can emphasize the high annoyance factor of the Notre Dame leprechaun. I’ve always hated him. According to the Notre Dame web site, the Leprechaun brandishes a shillelagh (some kind of hammer thingy - but not as cool as Purdue Pete's hammer) and aggressively leads cheers and interacts with the crowd, supposedly bringing magical powers and good luck to the Notre Dame team. (Not so much in the past few years, however.)

Originally, the team was represented by a series of Irish terrier dogs. Then in 1965, the Leprechaun was named the official mascot of Notre Dame. Erin go braugh! (Does anyone know what that means, anyway?)

The Notre Dame logo features a side view of the figure with his dukes up, ready to battle anyone that comes his way. (Does anyone else think he looks like the Grinch here? Why is he so pointy?) And what's with the Amish beard? Does anyone get that?

Why don't they use these logos? I think they better express the school.

Aspiring leprechauns attend three weeks of cheerleading workshops - call it leprechaun boot camp- before a rigorous one-day tryout. On selection day, each prospective leprechaun performs a mock-up pep rally, and is challenged to execute a number of push-ups. The final test is a 15-minute individual interview, in which judges look to see "if the candidate has the right heart to be the person who represents Notre Dame." Gag. Here's a brief look of little leps trying to impress the judges:

OMG- I'm so embarrassed for this guy. Give up the Million Dollar Baby pose already. Does this guy even clear 5 feet?

These elevated push-ups impressed the judges - until the male cheerleader's hand slipped and grabbed his "pot o' gold".

This leprechaun wanna-be's talents weren't cutting it in try-outs, so he decided to just flash his gold coins, to the horror of the judges. There ain't nothin lucky about that.

But after blood, sweat and leprechaun tears, two leprechauns are chosen each year. Don't we all remember this one lucky winner? How many of you looked at this guy and said, "Uh. Yeah - an Irish Leprechaun. Straight from the old country."

Overall rating: 2 out of 10
The Leprechaun is original, I suppose. But, he loses points for not having a name (How about “Leper the Leprechaun”? or “Annoying-guy-in-a-green-suit the Leprechaun?”) Also, he loses points for being abrasive, inflammatory and way too tempting for me to smack. In fact, how much of America would like to smack this guy?

He does get his two points, however, from the following video on You Tube. Watch the leprechaun as he clumsily smacks a cheerleader with the ND flag. Good stuff.