I love college football. Anyone who knows me, probably knows what I’m doing about this time on a Saturday. And while I hail from the SEC, went to Georgia and have always loved “old man style” football, I’ve also lived in Southern California and now in Minneapolis where I’ve gotten to enjoy Pac 12 and Big 10 football. Doing work at Big 12 and Big East schools has also led to me attending many a game in many a stadium. I’ve also always loved watching teams that just plain suck or teams that no one has ever heard of. They have more heart than an entire division of NFL teams combined. In short, I’ll watch pretty much any football, any time.
In my travels, I’ve come across many a team who have names that just make me wonder what in tarnation they were thinkin’. So I’ve compiled a list on this beautiful college football Saturday. Here goes:
- Demon Deacons of Wake Forest: A guy in a top had rides onto the field on a motorcycle. I know, it sounds like Stan Lee in the 60’s, right. But Wake Forest is a Baptist college, so after being called the Baptists, or Old Gold and Black for a few decades, in 1923 a few people started calling them the Demon Deacons due to a fighting spirit of sorts. Given that a bunch of Baptist old timers took awhile to come around to such a name, in 1941 the Demon Deacon became the official mascot, originally being picked by one of the fraternities on campus.
- Georgetown Hoyas comes from “What Rocks” in Greek, Hoya Saxa!. Now, running around chanting Greek isn’t probably what most people think of a ruckus college crowd these days, but this name goes all the way back to 1893! Their mascot is a bulldog, so I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘em.
- Stormy Petrels is a name I don’t know that I’d of heard if I weren’t from Georgia. This is the name of of the Oglethorpe University team and comes from a seabird. It came by the way of a college president in 1915 and supposedly dates all the way back to James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony.
- Boll Weevils are the number one enemy of cotton. And if you’ve ever opened up some flour filled with these little devils then you might get totally squeezy seeing an 8 foot tall one roaming the sidelines of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. A great name for a team in 1920, when they got the name. The women’s teams are known as the Cotton Blossoms. Makes you wonder what exactly what the big industry is in that area…
- Hokies is the name of the team out of Virginia Tech. They’re not having a great season, but they have been pretty darn good ever since a guy named Michael Vick went there. The name means nothing, except for to millions of college football fans.
- Tar Heels is the name of the North Carolina team. I’ve been unable to ascertain where the name originated, but Walt Whitman did call North Carolinians tarboilers, so I’ll go with people that were unlucky enough to step in tar. The Hokies and the Tar Heels are both in the ACC.
- Anteaters of University of California Irvine. This name isn’t over 100 years old, but it is closing in on 50 years old. The name was chosen by students, soon after the school was founded, in 1965.
- Ichabods of Washburn University in Kansas are named after college a headless horseman. Actually, they aren’t. The name hails from the founder of the school, Ichabod Washburn. But don’t tell the guys on the other side of the lines that!
- Wonder Boys of Arkansas Tech were named in 1919. Guess things were different back then… These days, just think the guy who plays Iron Man also played a Wonder Boy.
- Horned Frogs is the name of a team that I’ve always liked, Texas Christian University (TCU). Now, there are a lot of awesome things you can do with the name of this team, but to keep it PG I’ve always just called them the Horned Toads.
- Trolls is the name of the Trinity Christian College team, in Illinois. Irony is that they’re not very Christian beasts. Named in ’59, they were already out of all the good names by the time he got to town…
- Cornhuskers is the name of the teams at the University of Nebraska. I have loved watching them over the years and they’re probably one of the biggest names on this list. The reason I put them on here is that if you think about it, people who husk corn is a weird thing to name a team after… Of course, to continue picking on the Big Ten, so are Buckeyes and Golden Gophers. Then again, you’d expect funny names for teams in a conference where they haven’t learned to count past 10 (there are 12 teams in the Big 10).
- Hoosiers are the University of Indiana and a term in fact used to refer to those from Indiana. To continue picking on the Big 10, this term also has no real known origin but dates back to the 1830s before football was awesome. So there ya’ go. It’s funny, many of these names sound weird if you’ve never heard them but if you watch sports they just seem second nature, like they belong…
- Billikins is the name given to teams of St Louis University. Billikins are elven charm dolls. Now, if you’re Tigg from Sons of Anarchy and you see one of these, you might just run off the field screaming. So if you play football against big burly bikers then hey, great name!
- Cobbers is the name of the team at Concordia University. Apparently corn is somehow linked to football.
- Fighting Artichokes is the name of the Scottsdale Community College team. ‘Cause nothing strikes fear into carnivorous football players more than the thought of having to eat a thistle!
- Aggies is the name of the Texas A&M team (that just beat the #1 ‘Bama Crimson Tide tonight). This isn’t actually a weird name once you wonder and realize it’s short for Agriculture, the A in the name. The Aggies are part of the Big 12, by the way. A conference that doesn’t have 12 teams. TCU is also in the Big 12 now, although it’s their 3rd conference in as many years…
- Jumbos of Tufts University are not named after 300 pound lineman. Instead, they’re named after an elephant donated by Barnum after it died and got stuffed by taxidermists. I guess not everyone can name their team the Crimson Tide and then have a picture of an elephant, right… Anyway, I put this on the list ’cause it makes me think of the movie Dumbo. That’s all…
- Geoducks (geo is pronounced gooey) is the name of the Evergreen State College (Washington) teams. I now know that a Geoduck is the largest burrowing clam in the world. Their mascot dresses as a mollusks which must be terrifying for opposing teams that have shellfish allergies. “Go, Geoducks, go, Through the mud and the sand, Let’s go. Siphon high, squirt it out, Swivel all about, Let it all hang out.”
- Fighting Camels is the name of the Campbell University team. But the name of the school or team isn’t why they are on this list as much as the name of the mascot. Here he is:
- Scrotie is the unofficial mascot of the Rhode Island School of Design. This isn’t a team name. But they have the hockey team called the Nads and the basketball team named the Balls. I’ll let you google image the mascot yourself and spare you the imagery here…
- Fighting Pickles is the name of the North Carolina School of the Arts teams. It’s an art school… But you’d be surprised how similarly their pickle looks like Scrotie above!
- Dirtbags is just an awesome name. And very Long Beach in some ways. There’s not much more to say about California State University-Long Beach.
- Banana Slugs is my second most favorite name weird name around. If you’ve ever been to Santa Cruz, you probably understand why marijuana was legalized in California. If so, then this name makes sense; otherwise, not-so-much. Trivia: in 1985, the administration wanted to name the team the sea lions. The students, high though they may be, ended up winning out and the Banana Slugs it was!
- Ragin’ Cajuns is probably my favorite of these. Louisiana-Lafayette is Cajun country and the name of this team dates back to the 1970s, although they’ve been playing football since 1901.
Runner ups, dropping out of the top 25 for one reason or another: Black Flies, Pomona Sagehens (The Huns was an awesome name), Gorlocks (named from Gore and Lockwood, two streets that intersect, their mascot is actually a cheetah/buffalo/St Bernard mix that would make Napoleon Dynamite totally jealous), the NYU Violets, the University of New England Nor’easters, Chaparrals, Chanticleers, Lemmings, Poets, Squirrels, Thundering Herd (I’m guessing the only Buffalo in Huntington West Virginia is the Buffalo Wild Wings on 4th), Ladies and Gents, University of Delaware Blue Hens, Student Princes, the Hustlin’ Quakers of Earlham College, Sooners (I picked on the Big 12 too much already), Tulsa’s Golden Hurricane, the Zips, the Lutes (no really, another Christian school, too), Shockers (whoever thought up WuShock was certainly struck by lightning), Terrapins (ya, nothing says we average 8 days for a 40 yard dash like the Terps), the Boilermakers (I picked on the Big 10 too much already), the Green Terror, the Keelhaulers, the Gamecocks (the baseball caps they sell at the campus store just say COCKS), the Bridges (I guess it is Brooklyn after all), the Fighting Koalas, the South Dakota School of Mines HardRockers (didn’t they beat Minnesota a couple of years ago along with everyone else in the Dakotas?!?!), the Lord Jeffs (srsly?), the Okras (okra scares the crap out of me) and of course, any team with a Swallow for a mascot (college, pro, etc).
Note: I’ve tried to leave out any teams named after Native American tribes.
Now that I’ve probably managed to offend pretty much every sports fan, I’ll tell you that I love these names. I didn’t call this article the “25 Dumbest Names for College Teams” or the “25 Stupidest Names in College Sports.” There’s a reason for that. I love all these teams. And honestly, it would seem somewhat trite for most of these teams to be called the Bulldogs, the Falcons, the Braves, the Hawks, the Thrashers, the Georgia Southern Eagles, the Valdosta State Blazers or the Mercer Bears. But if you’ve had a name for decades then you kinda’ stick with it, trite, silly or awesome. Now, let’s go get some Fighting Pickles tats!