9 Worst College Nicknames
A brief word on this piece: I had only a tenuous grasp on the difference between a mascot and a nickname for a college before starting this article. I feel as though I’m behind the curve on this one, but in case I’m not, I’ll explain. A mascot is the thing that dances on the sideline, not necessarily the team name. For instance, the Texas mascot isn’t the longhorn, but rather Bevo, a very specific longhorn. Similarly, USC’s mascot isn’t the Trojan, it’s Traveler, a white horse. Needless to say, this floored me and left me confused and weeping for countless hours. However, remaining steadfast in my obligations as a writer, I forged ahead, compiling this list of the 9 most random-ass NICKNAMES in college sports. Get ready to be underwhelmed!
9. UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
Would it be OK if I gave my readership enough credit that I didn’t have to explain word-by-word why naming your team that Banana Slugs is a bad idea? Are they materially different from regular slugs? They seem a little cuter, which works for merchandise sales, but doesn’t really change the fat that any type of slug doesn’t put up much of a fight in the world of athletics.
8. Whittier Poets
If you’re playing a team called the Poets, does your team actually need to go through the formality of showing up, or can they just forfeit over the phone and save everyone money on gas money and field maintenance costs? Of course, Whittier was founded 124 years ago by a group called, and I’m not kidding, the Religious Society of Friends. From now on, regardless of the spread, when you’re gambling on a game involving the Whittier Poets, bet against Whittier. Always.
By the way, that pic is of Maya Angelou, as she was the only poet I thought there would be a snowball’s chance in hell of people recognizing.
7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
There are no hurricanes in central Oklahoma. If there were, they might be gold, but who knows. “Golden” is normally a precursor to something being royal or the best of its class. But in this instance, it just sounds like urine. Like a much more violent and intense golden shower. Which is pretty scary and intimidating, granted, but not something I would want to put on a sweatshirt. However, the precursors to the name included the “Kendallites,” the “Presbyterians,” the “Tulsans,” the “Tigers,” the “Orange Jackets,” the “Yellow Jackets,” the “Black Jackets,” and even the “Golden Tornadoes.” I would have stuck with “Tigers.” No need to reinvent the wheel here, Tulsa.
6. Evergreen State Geoducks
A geoduck sounds like it could be kind of cute, right? Like a mallard that’s a student of the earth. Well, that’s the image I had initially, and I was way off. A geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) is a long, skinny clam native to the northwest. Past its cylindrical 10-inch shell is a siphon that can extend up to three feet long. With this siphon, the geoduck gets up to menacing activities like “filtering water for nutrients” and other intimidating actions. So it’s not only gross, but also basically inert. Who thought this was a good idea?
5. Delta State University Fighting Okra
Initially, I wanted to contain this list to NCAA schools, preferably 1-A, but these small schools are just too much fun. Delta State, located in some place called Cleveland, Mississippi, essentially has two mascots. The first is the “Statesman,” which is pretty lame, but whatever. According to lore, they wanted a name that inspired more fear, so they went with the Fighting Okra, which seems to be a step backward. Fighting Okra are terrifying, but only in that, if one came to life, I would be so dumbstruck that the little anthropomorphic squash would be able to have its way with me.
4. Stanford Cardinal
In the interest of full disclosure, because I often like to pretend to consider myself a journalist, I must offer this: I hate Stanford. My reasons are immaterial, but I hate them. So I will try to be as objective as possible, here. Stanford’s mascot is the Cardinal. Not Cardinals (plural). Oh, no. That would represent a group of birds, which would make too much sense. The Cardinal (no “s”) is a reddish color. There was a time when the school’s nickname was the “Cardinals,” but even then, it referred to the plural of the color. Which is a pretty weird concept when given three seconds of thought. I guess Cincinnati’s baseball team can get away with it, but “Cardinal” just sounds so awkward and uncomfortable, like so much of Stanford’s student body. (Sorry, I held out as long as I could.) Stanford’s mascot is apparently a mentally challenged tree, but this piece is about nicknames, not mascots, so we’ll tuck that one away for another day.
3. MIT Engineers
I understand that going after MIT’s athletics’ nickname could seem a little misguided. It’s a bit like complaining about Iowa’s beaches. But MIT has 33 teams, and a program with even 1 team should have a better nickname than the “Engineers.” I guess the “We Suck At Sports” wouldn’t fit on a jersey, so they went with one word that meant the same thing. All of the names on this list are pretty weak, but at least they are, for the most part, interesting. I get halfway through the word “Engin-,” and I start to drift off. MIT is a crappy sports school. Which is exactly why it needs a name that’s light years better than “Engineers.”
2. Wichita State Shockers
I wish just saying “this is a horrible nickname for obvious reasons” would suffice, but it doesn’t. But it’s gonna have to, cause I’m not getting into my associations with “shocker.” I’ll leave that to the good folks at Urban Dictionary. I would assume that the hand signal was kind of a no-brainer after picking the name, no? To be fair though, the intimidation factor on this one is pretty high. If I felt that a consequence of playing this team was getting “shocked,” I would probably think twice about stepping onto their field. Okay. Enough of this. Let’s keep going.
1. New Mexico Tech Pygmies
Again, not a team we find in the BCS hunt late in the college football season, but that’s part of the reason they’re on this list. I’m sure the major schools have nicknames that are just as bizarre or awful as those on this list, but having heard them my whole life, it’s tough to distance yourself to understand how strange they are. Boilermaker? Sure. Demon Deacon? OK!
Well, pygmies are a group of diminutive people. That’s it. All pygmy really means is “one from a race of small people.” Not very scary. In fact, the complete opposite of scary. If a coach was to be presented with two choices, an unknown, random team, or the Pygmies, which do you think he picks? He picks the Pygmies because they sound like a Pee-Wee football team.