CFB’s Top 10 Most Ridiculous Mascot Costumes
10. Brutus The Buckeye (Ohio State)
For every beloved mascot like Bevo (Texas) or Uga (Georgia) whose school allegiance is clear, there are plenty of college mascots for which, “What the…” is a common reaction. We count down College Football’s Top 10 Most Ridiculous Mascot Costumes based on randomness of the costume, creep factor and other characteristics.
All those diehard Ohio State football fans you’ve seen over the years have been cheering for a team named for a nut - one that falls from the official state tree, giving credence to the nickname choice.
OSU’s mascot, Brutus, has the aforementioned nut in the place of a head, which rests on top of a rugby-style, longsleeve shirt. On the very top of the head rests a teeny, tiny version of the scarlet-and-gray ballcap that Woody Hayes used to wear. Oh, and Brutus is also wearing football gloves just in case the Buckeyes need him at wideout.
Because, sure, why not?
9. Herky The Hawk (Iowa)
Herky the Hawk first appeared at an Iowa football game in 1959, which is very fitting. The Hawkeyes’ mascot’s head looks like a relic from that era.
From a design standpoint, the same principles that went behind the original Herky in ‘59 have gone unchanged: An oversized bird’s head complete with a beak and a painted-on Iowa helmet.
As if that’s not enough, the giant head rests on the body of someone in a football uniform, with black “plumage” running up and down the arms and around the neck - making Herky half-bird, half-football star.
8. Otto (Syracuse)
As far as we can tell, Otto is one of the few mascots in college sports who’s proudly missing a torso.
Syracuse’s official mascot since 1995, Otto is an anthropomorphic orange sitting on top of a pair of legs. Just like counterpart Brutus at Ohio State, Otto’s head is adorned with a comically-sized hat - one that’s seemingly big enough to cover the Carrier Dome in the unlikely event that the roof starts leaking.
T-7. Pistol Pete (OK State) and Purdue Pete (Purdue)
In both Stillwater, OK, and West Lafayette, IN, they have alliterative and creepy, plastic-faced (literally) mascots to cheer the Cowboys and Boilermakers on, respectively.
Paying great attention to detail, Oklahoma State made sure to have a 5 o’clock shadow on Pistol Pete’s face in addition to giving him school-branded stirrups, a leather vest and a cowboy hat. Purdue Pete, meanwhile, has the kind of mug you’d see on a 1950s cartoon character. To add to that effect, he roams the Ross-Ade Stadium sidelines carrying a hammer and wearing a plastic hard hat.
We get the sense that young fans of both schools start crying from fear the first time they meet these mascots.
6. Lil’ Red (Nebraska)
The tell-tale sign that one of the Cornhuskers’ mascots was a product of the 1990s (it was introduced in 1993): The fact that it still wears a ball cap out to the side long after the look went out of style.
Lil’ Red’s walking parade float-like appearance is due to its “PowerBelt,” which brings in over 100 feet of fresh outside air per minute and allows the person inside the costume to run, dance, crowd surf and generally bounce about like a cartoon character.
We’re also convinced that Lil’ Red is directly related to Lard Lad, the mascot of the eponymous donut chain in “The Simpsons.”
5. Zippy (Akron)
Nothing quite says college sports like a ... kangaroo?
Then again, Akron might be the only school to name its athletic teams for a type of shoes; Zips is short for “zippers,” a type of rubber overshoe that used to be manufactured in Akron. So why not add to the madness with a kangaroo as a mascot?
Once the subject of derision, Zippy (who celebrated his 60th birthday this year) is now a fan favorite - letter-sweater, gold-and-blue ratcap and all.
4. Cayenne (Louisiana)
Perhaps knowing that trying to come up with a concept for a mascot that resembled a “Ragin’ Cajun” would offend the fine denizens of Louisiana, UL school officials drew inspiration from the next best thing: Cajun cuisine.
The end product is a humanlike Cayenne pepper, the stem of which is transformed into a wavy haircut. Because a pepper on its own is not the most intimidating mascot in the world, Cayenne’s designers set its eyes aflame. One look at this ridiculous pepper will haunt your dreams.
3. Rocky and Rocksy (Toledo)
It’s so nice that Daft Punk takes the time out of its busy touring and recording schedule to cheer for Toledo’s athletic teams.
Wait ... that’s not Daft Punk. That’s just a futuristic rendering of a “Rocketman” (given name: Rocky) and his “Rocketwoman” (Rocksy). You can tell which one’s the female by the fact that she’s wearing a skirt.
Last time we checked, female astronauts didn’t wear skirts in space. What’s the deal, Toledo?
2. The Tree (Stanford)
We don’t know what an actual acid trip feels like, but we’d probably come close to duplicating its effects on the mind if we were exposed to the Stanford Tree for long periods of time.
Is it those cherry-red lips? That creepy smile, which can be replaced Mr. Potato Head-style by (among other choices) a buck-toothed grin or a look of utter confusion? Or is it those googly eyes? And the mascot appears to become crazier by the year as each student designs his or her own costume.
It’s probably a combination of those factors and others. Evidently, it has a psychotropic effect on those who don the costume. Who knew a mascot could blow a 0.157 on the breathalyzer?
1. Big Red (Western Kentucky)
Western Kentucky’s mascot has been around since 1979 and is one of the more recognizable ones in all of college sports. The reason its No. 1 on our list of CFB’s Most Ridiculous Mascots is the fact that, after all this time, no one still knows what it is.
To wit: The opening sentence of Big Red’s Wikipedia page describes it as a “red, furry blob,” which is about as non-descriptive as one can get. The only connection it appears to have to WKU and its Hilltoppers’ nickname is that its head is shaped like a hill.
Frankly, as long as Big Red continues to shine in hilarious “This is SportsCenter” ads, we don’t care who or what it is.