“If you want to name a mascot, then dream a little dream with me.”

By Jonathan Schlosser

College football is upon us; it’s something that, for many people, pretty much defines the autumn season. USC and Notre Dame. Michigan and Michigan State. Texas and, since last year’s epic battle, at least, Texas Tech. The games are huge. Nothing else could command that much interest on a Saturday afternoon. Nothing else could inspire so many college students to drink so much beer so early in the morning. The Pope could come to Florida before Tebow takes the field, and no one would notice. And those that did, of course, would think he came to see Tebow.



In the spirit of college football, I’m going to take a look at some of the mascots. They’re festive. They’re weird. And some of them are downright horrible. All of them are worth a look, because what a strange tradition they are. Whole student bodies claiming to be things like Buckeyes and WuShocks and Boilermakers and Gunstons.

Do they even know what a Gunston is? Any of them? No, but they’re usually drunk and it doesn’t matter and they all are practically rabid with desire to be Gunstons.

I’ll look at three, here, but this series will continue, as I break down the best and the worst in college sports.

1. The WuShock. This thing is downright amazing. I mean, the name says it all. WuShock. This sounds like a lazy cheer for the Detroit Shock of WNBA fame (if you can call that fame, in the end, though three people total have ever attended any of the games). And it looks like Frankenstein with jaundice, like a yellowish, diseased thing with limp French fries for hair. If I went to Wichita State University, I’d have nightmares about it after every game. How people can buy clothes with this mascot on it, I have no idea.

2. Captain Cane, University of Tulsa. So, from the start, I get this. Captain Cane, as in, a hurricane. Powerful. Destructive. Dominating. This is what a sports mascot ought to be, what every team (save for the St. Louis Cardinals, whose choice of bird is significantly less than threatening) wants to be. Or, at least thinks they can be, if they can ever figure out which direction to go on the field (see: the St. Louis Rams. Special thanks to one city for giving two golden examples of athletic ineptitude). What I don’t get about Captain Cane, though, is what he is. I understand that he’s trying to be a hurricane, but he’s missing it. Instead, he is the Michelin Man. Good for selling tires, maybe, but not winning games.



3. And speaking of St. Louis, check out St. Louis University’s Billiken. It might be a vampire. It might be a deformed elf, Legolas with birth defects. It might be nothing at all. It certainly is scary, which I guess is good for intimidation. What’s even scarier is how they came up with it. According to legend, Ms. Pretz, an art teacher, saw the thing in a dream in 1908 and decided (obviously; I mean, how couldn’t you decide this, really) that it should be the school’s mascot.

People are crazy. That’s the only explanation. People are crazy. The people who come up with these things are pretty bad off, but even worse are the students who rally behind them. I mean, the Billikens? Come on. The WuShock. Yes. That is certainly what I want on my tee-shirt. Better yet, let’s just paint me up to look like one. I can go to the game and cheer and then (seriously, how lucky is this) just walk out on Halloween night and make whole mobs of terrified little children need to change their pants.

I think I’m going to keep a sketchpad near my bed from now on, so that I can draw up all the characters from the strangest of my dreams. I should have patents on at least thirty mascots by this time next year. Look for them at little 1AA schools near you.

BYLINE:

Jonathan Schlosser is a writer and part-time library worker. He has published some short fiction and is working on finding a publisher for his novel. He has a B.A. in Writing, which means that, for a living, he is allowed to put away books at the library. He is also allowed to tell parents to tell their children to be quiet. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Email Jonathan at jonathan@zoiksonline.com.

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