With Maryland’s move to the Big Ten, he — and the rest of us — should get familiar with a whole new slate of fellow mascots, nicknames and history. So while we won’t be bumping chests on the court or leading the football team onto the field, it’s best to know whom exactly we’re rooting against this fall!
Here’s a guide to our new rivals:
Known as the home of the Fighting Illini, the school retired its mascot, Chief Illiniwek, several years ago and is known mostly by its striking orange “I” on a blue background.
This school doesn’t have an official mascot besides its team name, “Hoosiers.” Don’t know what that is? Us either. The term refers to a nickname of uncertain origin for the state’s residents.
The Hawkeyes nickname is traced back to “The Last of the Mohicans,” and the school’s athletic events are roamed by mascot Herky the Hawk. The black and gold bird was hatched in the 1940s by a journalism instructor.
Theories abound for how the Wolverines got their long-held nickname, but an attempt in the 1920s to bring real-life versions into the football stadium was quickly abandoned. The school does have its well-known winged helmets and block M design.
A newspaper editor took it upon himself 78 years ago to call this school the Spartans when he disliked the other entries in a contest. Since then, the armored, puffed-up mascot named Sparty flexes his teams on.
The Golden Gophers’ name combines the state’s official animal and the color of a championship team’s football jerseys. They are represented by smiling, buck-toothed Goldy.
The Cornhuskers also earned their name from a newspaper writer, once he decided Bugeaters had run its course at the turn of the century. Herbie the Husker has been an official symbol of the school since the 1970s.
This school has gone from the Purple and the Fighting Methodists to the Wildcats, cribbing the name from an article that described the spirit of the football team in the 1920s. Willie the Wildcat was originally a much less huggable bear cub.
Like Indiana, the Buckeyes moniker is derived from a nickname for Ohio residents, but this school has an anthropomorphic version. Brutus the Buckeye is one of the country’s most well-known mascots.
The Nittany Lions nickname was born on a baseball trip when a student wanted to one-up the Princeton Tigers. The mountain lion, which once made a home in Pennsylvania, is the costumed symbol for the school.
Purdue Pete, complete with spike hammer, is the human representative of the Boilermakers, but the school’s official mascot is actually a replica train honoring its engineering and farming heritage.
Teams at Rutgers, the other new kid on the Big Ten block, were once symbolized by a fighting rooster called the Chanticleer, but became the Scarlet Knights in the 1950s.
Located in the Badger state, the school adopted the animal mascot even though the name was meant to describe how miners lived in the winter. The original live badger, which occasionally needed to be tackled as well, was replaced long ago by Bucky Badger.
Source: Between the Columns (btc) newsletter, September 2014