5. Smokey (Tennessee)
The famous orange-and-white checkerboard in the end zone is synonymous with Tennessee football. But when the same checkerboard doubles as Smokey’s vest, it takes a backseat to the omnipresent Bluetick hound. In fact, the pup has been the Volunteers’ mascot since 1953, when a student poll dubbed him the winner. The current dog is Smokey IX and has been around since 2004. The previous dog, Smokey VIII, was the winningest version – compiling a 91-22 record, two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship. But more than winning football, nothing says down-home Tennessee like making fun of Lane Kif … er, a country hound dog.
4. Bevo (Texas)
This is how long Bevo has been a part of Texas football: He made his debut against the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. That’s Texas A&M for those of you who weren’t around on Thanksgiving 1916. A burnt orange steer, Bevo doesn’t really do much at games. Most accounts admit that he was bred to be a passive animal. Of course, no one wants a wild longhorn steer running around a public venue. Nonetheless, he is one of the most-recognizable mascots in sports and might be the most beloved. He attends all home football games and make appearances at pep rallies. If that sounds like a tough schedule for Bevo, it’s not. He just sits near the end zone at home games and grazes. And one Bevo or another has been doing that for almost a century.
3. Ralphie (Colorado)
Ralphie’s dead sprint onto the field is truly one of the most amazing sites in sports. A bunch of dudes in cowboy hats attempt to guide the buffalo onto the field. But in reality, the excitement of its entrance – at the start of the game and second half – is because of the lingering danger in the air. Things can go wrong quickly when a charging buff is let loose. Live buffaloes made appearances at Colorado games many times since 1934, when CU officially was branded the Buffs. But Ralphie originally was donated in 1966. Admit it: It’s worth the money to see opposing players stop in their tracks as he barrels toward their sideline.
2. War Eagle (Auburn)
War Eagle has many meanings within Auburn football. It’s the school’s fight song, rallying cry and even inspired a website. But most famously – at least, in Auburn lore – it’s the name of an airborne mascot, which does its own version of a pregame flyover. As legend has it, the original War Eagle was present at Auburn’s first football game – against Georgia in 1892. The eagle broke away from its master and flew around the stadium exciting fans, much as it has done over a century later. It’s likely that this is just an old fable, but the bird remains a big part of the school’s tradition.
1. Uga (Georgia)
As much as we love these other live mascots, this really was a landslide. The cleverly named Uga dates back to 1956 and is so beloved in the state of Georgia that each mascot’s passing is honored with everything but a 21-gun salute before it is laid to rest at Sanford Stadium. Uga is shown constantly at football games in his funny little sweater, is legendary for trying to bite an Auburn player in the crotch in 1996 and is a huge celebrity in Athens. Oh, and he’s also a big hit with the ladies.
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