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.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Central Michigan Chippewas

Central Michigan University

Mascot: The Chippewas

Resembles: A big letter “C” tipping over (maybe it’s drunk?)

Known for: Sucking, because it’s not a real mascot! Oh - but now they have some light bulb-headed guy running around the basketball court.

Blasphemy! Along the likes of the University of Michigan and Indiana University, this school has no physical mascot for their football team! I feel sorry for Central Michigan students who will never witness their own foam-headed figure acting a fool on the field. However I’ve recently discovered they have this politically correct basketball-headed guy named “Rowdie” who cheers on their basketball team. A basketball head is much "safer" than a protest-laden Indian guy.

Originally, CMU was known as the “Dragons” and then the “Wildcats”. Then a former coach submitted “Bearcats” as a mascot, with the rationale that “it has all the fighting qualities of wildcats, and more, because no one ever saw a bearcat.”

So with that kind of rationale, why aren’t they the “Fighting Sasquatches”? No one -not on crack anyway -ever saw a Sasquatch in the woods either. Can you imagine some Chewbacca-looking thing running around the field? Hmmmmmm.

Anyway, the name “Bearcats” stuck until 1941. Then their coach argued that the name “Chippewas” honored the Chippewa Indian tribes who once lived in the area (uh, before they were kicked out). He stated that “…Chippewa opens up unlimited opportunities for pageantry and showmanship…” (Uh, you mean “mocksmanship”?)

And it could have been great, that is, until the Michigan Civil Rights Commission stepped in, caving into pressure from Native American rights groups. On March 1, 1989, an advisory committee to the school’s president recommended retaining the name with some provisions – (i.e., anything fun and cool must be removed.) No dancing Indians, no pow-wows, no feathers, no drums, no tee-pees.

Nope - "Squaws" not allowed at CMU.

Pack up the tee-pee kids, CMU can't afford the lawsuits.

CMU drummers are forced to stroke their drums in hiding. (Probably a good thing for everyone.)

A tramp stamp you would NOT see at CMU. Too suggestive of Indian feathers.

Overall rating: 1 out of 10

CMU needs to grow some stones - if you chose an Indian name for your athletic teams, you need to follow up with an Indian mascot. Boooo! CMU gets 1 point for the lame basketball-headed "Rowdie". Although he lacks originality, he does have an over-sized head with a goofy look on his face. Points are always awarded for mascots with disproportionate anatomy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oregon's Donald Duck

University of Oregon

Mascot: Donald Duck (seriously)

Resembles: Donald Duck with a green and yellow sailor suit

Known for: Being a drunken, party-fouling waterfowl

How is a Duck supposed to intimidate opposing teams when he's just so darn cute? I can't stand the cuteness. Yes, Oregon's mascot is Donald Duck - the same Donald Duck from the omniscient Disney Empire (uh cult?). The University of Oregon actually has a contract with Disney to use the cartoon duck's likeness.

So, why a duck? Originally, Oregon was known as "The Webfoot State" - a reference to a band of fisherman who moved to the state from Massachusetts in the 1840s. The university's first atheletic nickname was the "Webfoots". (In 1909, Oregon became "The Beaver State" [insert gratuitus beaver joke here]). Then local sportswriters began to call the Webfoots the "Ducks," and thus the mascot was born.

In the 1920s, the first real duck mascot was, in fact, a real duck named "Puddles." Some fraternity kids brought Puddles to games until the kiljoys at the Humane Society started crying "fowl!" and they had to stop. I wonder what happened to Puddles after he was fired...

*Apologies to Gerber for the Humane Society reference, as well as the portrayal of duck eating.

In 1947, Oregon's first athletic director struck a handshake agreement with the great Walt Disney himself to use Donald Duck as the school's mascot, as long as it was "done in good taste."

Well, I wonder what ol' Walt would think of Oregon's Donald Duck today. Although it's not confirmed, I believe Oregon's Donald has a bit of an issue with the bottle.

Introducing Exhibit A: Engaging in Violence

On September 8, 2007, Oregon's Donald Duck put a beatdown on the University of Houston's Cougar, a move that got him suspended for one game. This was one of the best mascot fights in history.

You gotta check it out - here's the fight on You Tube:

Another fight - Donald Duck follows through on a bitch-slap to the Winthrop University Eagle at the NCAA Tournament:

Exhibit B - Indecent Acts:

Donald Duck exposes his duck parts to - repeat victim - the Houston Cougar:

Flashes to the masses - Donald Duck spreads his nether-feathers to a horrified crowd:

Way over the line - Donald Duck squats down in the end zone and deficates in front of thousands. And he thinks it's funny.

Exhibit C: Public Intoxication

A drunken Donald stumbles over on the basketball court and propositions an Oregon cheerleader. Ever the professional, she ignores Donald's dirty duck talk and focuses on the game.

Donald flips off a group of schoolchildren at a Saturday pep rally. Fortunately, his thick plumage disquises his extended middle finger.

Donald's battle with the sauce has cost him relationships, his job and even his home back at the pond. Below, Donald stumbles out of a trash can, his temporary home for the past week.

Overall Rating: 9.8 out of 10
Regardless of his flaws, Oregon's Donald Duck is one of my personal fav's in the mascot world. The fact that a cute duckie is used to represent fierce athletic teams scores high points. If they want to "up" the fierce factor, they could consider some sharp teeth extending from his beak. He also scores points for the fruity sailor suit, and double points for the fact that he's not wearing pants. Perhaps a 12-step program can help him. Or, we could nominate him for an episode of "Intervention".