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The 10 Strangest College Mascots

Aug 17, 2007
Sure, you have bulldogs, panthers, knights, and hawks. But not every school chooses a conventional mascot. In fact, some schools select rather unconventional ones and often for rather strange and unorthodox reasons. Here are ten of the strangest, in no particular order - except for the last one.

Boll Weevils.
At six millimeters longs, not many schools boast a mascot smaller than that of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Still, despite its diminutive size, the boll weevil is a formidable opponent - after all, it is the most destructive cotton pest in the United States. With that in mind, it is curious why men's athletics at Monticello are represented by the Boll Weevils whereas the women are known as the "Lady Blossoms."

Is it any wonder that the 1960s, a decade famous for political unrest and protest, would also see the rise of University of California-Irvine Anteaters? Inspired by Johnny Hart's comic strip, "B.C.," Zot the Anteater was introduced at the school's first athletic event, a water-polo game, in which cheerleaders led the crowd in the now-infamous chant, "Give 'em tongue!"

Banana Slugs.
While famous for its marijuana culture as well as the infamous "Porter Run," in which students streak en masse through campus one night of the year, the University of California-Santa Cruz is also known for its distinctive mascot. The idea for the mascot grew out of the students' disapproval of the fierce athletic competition fostered at other universities - hence, they chose the peaceable slug.

Fighting Okra.
There are several legends as to how the Delta State "Statesmen" actually became known as the "Fighting Okra." One version involves a group of athletes who decided to adopt a mascot that was more intimidating. Okra was suggested because it was green (the school color), Southern, and ugly. The name stuck.

Although this rather unfortunate name is also slang for athletes who "choke" in the final minute and fritter away an easy victory, the Grays Harbor Chokers actually refer to an archaic logging term. Traditionally, "chokers" were men who wrapped logs with ropes prior to moving them to the lumberyard.

Given the volcanic activity in Hawaii, it is certainly appropriate that a local school would invoke the Roman God of Fire. That being said, upon hearing of the mascot of the University of Hawaii-Hilo, don't most of us actually think of another prominent Vulcan as its representative? (Hint: Live long and prosper.)

Battling Bishops.
Prior to 1925, the Ohio Wesleyan teams were known as the "The Red and Black" or as simply "The Methodists." But given that there were a dozen Methodist colleges in the area, Ohio Wesleyan decided to have a contest and select a new name to distinguish itself. "Battling Bishops" was the winner.

Coming on the heels of protest-mascots such as the Anteaters and the Banana Slugs, the Artichokes was chosen by the students of Scottsdale Community College in the early 1970s as a protest against the school administration's practice of using scholarships intended for Native Americans to attract out-of-state athletes.

Named for a prominent poet and leader in the abolitionist movement, John Greenleaf Whittier, the Whittier College Poets are not quite as intimidating as the Fighting Okra nor even as peace-loving as the docile banana slugs. Then again, the Poets are also not as ridiculous as at least one mascot...

Fighting Pickles.
Apparently, the Fighting Pickles was first suggested as a joke in 1972 when the North Carolina School of the Arts decided to have a contest to create a mascot. As with many mascot-choosing contests - when will school administrators learn? - the unlikely vegetable won, giving it not only the honor of becoming the school's official mascot but probably the most ridiculous mascot of all time.

Then again, what's your school's mascot...
About the Author
Benjamin Welch offers advice to students seeking information about colleges and universities. Find colleges and universities by state, and also find online and on campus colleges and universities, at Classesandcareers.com.
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