College Mascots

March Madness is upon us. So I guess now is as good a time as any to write about my favorite college teams. Bear in mind, none of these teams have anything to do with how good the colleges are or the teams are. Or what sports they play. If you want to know the 13-seed most likely to pull an upset, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

All I’m here for are the mascots.

My high school does a “college day” every Wednesday, where they encourage teachers to wear college gear. Of course, ninety percent of the teachers at this Sacramento-area high school went to one of two colleges, such that our students actually roll their eyes at Sacramento State and UC Davis.

I wanted to be different, so I set out to find hats of obscure teams with fun mascots. One Wednesday, I might be sporting a Northern Arizona Lumberjacks hat, and the next I’ll bust out the UMKC Kangaroos. Not really sure why they’re the Kangaroos. Last time I checked, there aren’t a lot of marsupials in the Kansas City area. Then again, there aren’t a lot of Mastodons in the wherever-the-hell-IPFW is. I think it stands for “I’m Peeing in your Front Window,” and I know for a fact that there are no mastodons near my front window. Or Fort Wayne, for that matter. Or Fort Worth. I’m just covering my bases, because I’m not 100% sure what the FW stands for. The only thing I know for certain is the “I’m Peeing” part. And there are no mastodons anywhere one might find oneself peeing.

Not that I bought any IPFW hats for our college days, because IPFW doesn’t sell hats that contain both the college name and the mascot. I can get a hat that says IPFW, or a hat with a menacing elephant, but I can’t find one with both items. Seriously, IPFW. You have a pretty cool names and an awesome mascot. Yet you sell no hats that combine the two. I assume marketing is not one of the majors that is offered at IPFW? It’d take room from that vaunted prehistoric zoology department.

You know who else is super shitty about putting mascots on hats? Canadian schools! I know, I know. Who the he’ll knew there were universities in Canada? I was surprised, too. And they’ve got some damn good mascots, too. For instance, did you know that the University of Calgary are the Dinos? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. The apparel department at the University of Calgary are alson unaware they are the dinos, as you can’t purchase any hats that indicate that fact.

The University of British Columbia are the Thunderbirds. The University of Winnipeg has Wesley Coyote. The University of Manitoba are the bison, which looks suspiciously similar to the University of Colorado’s Buffalo. But there aren’t any hats for the bison, so your best bet for repping Manitoba is to buy a Colorado hat and then put a Manitoba sticker on it.

As far as I can tell,  Nunavut Arctic College doesn’t even have a mascot. How the heel does the name of your school include the word “arctic” but you can’t pick a mascot? You probably have some legitimate options, like a polar bear, that aren’t available anywhere else in the world. Kinda like all the indigenous kangaroos in Kansas City made that such a logical pairing. But no. No mascot at Nunavut Arctic College. Hell, in America,  even our elementary schools have mascots.

The University of Saskatchewan has Howler the Husky. The University of Saskatchewan also often uses the shortened name of U-Sask. Pretty cool name. I wouldn’t even need a Husky on it if I could buy a U-Sask hat. But I can’t.

And inside Saskatchewan, we have the city of… You know what? I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to my hat collection. One of my favorites belongs to St. Peter’s University,  which I guess is in New York. It’s not that I’m a big fan of St. Peter’s, it’s just that their mascot is the Peacocks. How, I ask, could I NOT wear a hat that had not only the word “Peter,” but also a derivation of both “Pee” and “Cocks.”

Because,  although I’m the only non-sophomore in the room,  let’s be honest,  I’m also the most sophomoric.  Do you know how hard it was to be the only one stifling giggles when I had a student giving a book presentation about all the beaver hunts the Russian settlers used to go on in the Pacific Northwest? And by “the only one stifling a giggle,” I don’t mean that everyone else was laughing uncontrollably and I was the only one to keep it under control. I mean I’m the only one who was finding it giggle-worthy in the first place. All the rest of my students were paying rapt attention to the wonderful information about the relative value of rodent-pelts.

“Yeah, so there used to be a lot of beavers. And these men were trying to get as many beavers as possible. It was a real sense of accomplishment for these men as to who could nab the prettiest beavers.  Like, if they could get more than one beaver at the same time, that would be really impressive.”

“Thank you for that very informative report about the history of my college days. Um,  I mean the non-British colonies.”

And this all brings me to what this article is about.  My favorite colleges,  which have nothing to do with the quality of the educational facilities or sports acumen. I gave a dream conference. Eight schools that should play each other on a regular basis. I don’t care about travel costs or the competitiveness of the matchups. I mean, sure, Alabama should destroy Oregon State in football every time they play,  but then again,  shouldn’t it be a bloodbath every time the Crimson Tide visit the Beavers?

(Russian traders notwithstanding)

Okay,  so here’s my conference.

Alabama. See above. Although I don’t really know if they should play anyone other than the Beavers.

Oregon State. These guys would be the MVPs of the conference,  year in and year out.  Who doesn’t want to pound Beavers on a regular basis? Just ask my sophomore book-report girl.

Ball State. See what I mean about Alabama? The crimson tide should never come anywhere close to Ball State.

Sacramento State.  This might seem an odd addition if you don’t live in Northern California. But this school usually advertises itself as “Sac State.” The cheerleaders even wear uniforms that just emblazon “SAC” right across their chest.  So knowing that, are y’all as upset as I am that we don’t have an annual “Ball-Sac Classic” in every sport? I wonder what the trophy would look like.

Wichita State. These guys have gained some traction over recent years as their basketball team has done well. Their first year of prominence,  the networks were completely unaware that their team name,  the Shockers, had a completely different connotation than “one who shucks wheat.” But if you look closely at the stands at one of their televised games, you’ll see evidence of the OTHER type of Shocker. If you aren’t aware of the Shocker, then you don’t spend much time on Urban Dictionary. It’s a rather crude, misogynistic play on a sexual move. I don’t want to get too graphic. Maybe I can use some of the pithy phrases associated with it. Like “Two in the pink, one in the…” hold on, that might not be appropriate. What about “If two fingers don’t rock ‘er, give ‘er the…” No, I can’t finish that thought. This has to stay a family friendly blog, what with its references to bloody ball sacs and whatnot. Regardless, the international symbol for shocker is the ring finger being held down by the thumb. What you’re left with is the pointer and middle finger paired together, while the pinkie (the Shocker) is off on its own. I’ll let you figure out what it’s there for.

South Carolina. I think I once wrote an entire blog entry all about my love of cock. No wait. That sounds wrong. What I mean is that, while watching college football, I like to see a lot of penetration. Like, when the University of South Carolina has a good defense, there end up being a lot of cocks in the backfield. Hold on a second. I think this is all coming across incorrectly. What I mean is it’s great to see the Cocks rise to the occasion. It would only be fitting if the winner of the Ball-Sac Classic were to team up with the Cocks for a hopeful encounter with the Beavers. Unless the Crimson Tide is in town.

University of Southern California. Nobody likes having the Trojans in their conference. They just seem to get in the way. And the pleasure that you normally get from that encounter between the Cocks and the Beavers is totally deadened by the presence of the University of Southern California. But in this era of lots of travelling matchups between various cocks and balls and sacs, it’s probably a good idea to keep the Trojans nearby. Safety first when it comes to college sports. We don’t want to have to figure out which concussion protocol to follow when there’s an errant Shocker involved.

Hey, did you know there’s been a recent tiff between the Cocks and the Trojans? The University of South Carolina is upset that the University of Southern California are the ones usually ascribed the moniker “USC.” It’s a somewhat common gripe in a country with thousands of colleges and only a finite number of letter combinations. The Buffaloes usually go with the awkward phrasing of “Colorado University,” because the California schools have already stolen the “UC” designations.

And of course, I’m sorry to spoil the Cocks’ wild dreams, but the real USC is in Southern California. Isn’t that just like the Trojans to get in the way?

And so that is the conference I wanted to see. I wanted to see Cocks and Shockers and Beavers and Ball Sacs. I want all of their games to be televised nationally and only to be announced by comedians who know how to toe the fine line of double entendre.

But there was always a problem with my conference. It only has seven teams. You can’t have a conference with an odd number of teams. You can’t have a team off every gameday. Plus, there are three sets of natural rivals and then poor Wichita State is all there by its lonesome, like a pinkie hanging around the back door.

So I looked long and hard (yeah, baby) for an eighth team to add to make it a full conference. I guess the St. John’s Red Storm is only a pale impression of the Crimson Tide. The Rams of Colorado State or Rhode Island? Meh. The Presbyterian Blue Hose had potential until I realized that they were talking about tights worn by Scots. Plus I’d have to change the spelling. I could switch around the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes into Golden Showers, but the beauty of the conference to this point is that I haven’t had to change a word. The meaning, sometimes, but Wichita State are legitimately called the Shockers.

And Navy have the audacity to call themselves the Midshipmen, when we all know they should be the Seamen.

The Massachusetts Minutemen had promise. I imagine it’s not a very good pickup line in the Bay State. “Hey baby, let me be your minuteman.” Do the cheerleaders have to stop their cheers in the middle or else the players won’t be able to finish their play? Like I said, it’s got potential, but I don’t see the Minutemen ever engaging in enough foreplay to encounter a Shocker. And they probably need matchups with the Trojans on a regular basis.

I was ready to give up on my dream conference until I started looking at those Canadian schools who hide their mascots. That’s when I found…

The University of Regina. Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Manitoba. It’s home to the Canadian Football League’s Roughriders. (I bet it is). The Mounties also have their training there. (I bet they do).

Of course, these jokes are only funny if you know how the name of the city is pronounced. It looks like the last two syllables should read like name Gina. The University of Re-geena. And why would Gina have anything to do with Roughriders and Mounties?

But it’s not pronounced that way. You see, much like they mispronounce the word “about” and misspell the word “labor,” those poutine-lovers pronounce a long I in Regina. So it rhymes with with Dinah. Or Carolina. Or…

So yeah… I mean, I guess… Ball State and Sac State make it into my conference by name alone, so I guess I can let the Rajin’ Gynas in on name alone. Sure, it seems odd to throw in a Canadian university. They have 110-yard football fields and I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to figure out how many centimeters it is from home plate to first base.

Let me peruse it while I look up their mascot and… whoa, ho, ho!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you:

The Regina Cougars.

My work here is done.

The Almighty Cocks!

Congratulations to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, henceforth referred to as “The Cocks.”

Last weekend, the Cocks were playing their first game after coach Steve Spurrier, the Head Cock himself, quit. Yet the Cocks didn’t come out flaccid. Nobody would’ve been surprised, or even blamed them, if they had been a little limp or come up a little short.

Sure, Vanderbilt isn’t exactly the most turgid of opponents, and the Cocks have smacked the Commodores across the face repeatedly in recent years. But if there was any time Vanderbilt was going to be able to manhandle the Cocks, this was it.

I mean, The coach just up and quit in the middle of the season! I know he’s old, and, at 70, maybe it’s not as easy to get his Cocks up and ready week after week. And with only two wins this season, and winless in the tough SEC, there was already speculation that he’d retire at the end of the season. I just didn’t expect the premature ejection.

Okay, okay. I’ll give it a rest. Take a breather, smoke a cigarette. But only for long enough to get ready for Round Two.

Because I don’t care if it’s sophomoric, dammit. Double entendres are funny. Unless you have a stick up your ass (and that’s not a double entendre).

There’s a teacher in my department that was bemoaning the maturity level of high school boys, who kept laughing at her Vietnam War PowerPoint.

“Every time I mention the attacks on the Cu Chi Tunnels.”

I snickered. So did the other men at the table.

“No seriously, guys. That’s where the Viet Cong would hide. The Americans were always trying to find out where the Cu Chi tunnels were and infiltrate them, but they always had trouble getting in.”

“Sounds like my twenties,” I mentioned.

“Stop it!”

“Hey, I have a question,” another teacher asked. “Did the VC trim the vegetation around the Cu Chi Tunnels?”

“Ugh.” She had given up, but we kept going.

“Maybe if they had played around with the mountains a little first, the Cu Chi Tunnels would’ve been more receptive.”

It turns out the age of the male in question has little to do with his reaction to trying to get into the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Have I mentioned that one of my life dreams is to be invited to the wedding between Ms. Poon & Mr. Tang. I’m also sad that we’re no longer going to be two resignations away from President Boner.

Which leads me back to rooting for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

I know, I know. One should never pick the team one is rooting for because of its mascot. Your favorite team should be much more manly and logical than that, such as a team that you live near or a team that was good when you first started following the sport.

But picking by mascot is just bush league. You can’t just pick the Giants because you are tall. Or the Vikings because you’re a fan of softcore porn on the History Channel. It’s not like chronic masturbators unite in their love of the Yankees.

Especially in college. If you start picking teams just because of their mascot, who are you going to root for when the Auburn Tigers play the LSU Tigers? Maybe you can just switch to be a Wildcat fan when Kentucky plays Arizona State.

Yet there’s something about those Cocks.

By the way, when those Wildcats of KY meet up with the Cocks? It can get messy!

My love of the Cocks (um, I mean my fandom of South Carolina) began one hungover New Year’s Morning. I woke up in a cabin with about thirty people I didn’t know. I was one of only a few that were awake at first because I had slept on the uncomfortable floor in front of the TV, which somebody had just turned on to a random bowl game.

“Who’s playing?” I asked as my bleary eyes tried to focus.

“South Carolina,” the unknown guy who had secured the couch the night before said. “The Cocks.”

A linebacker was on the screen. I responded, “Wow, that’s a big Cock.” Then it was on.

South Carolina sacks the quarterback? That cock got some good penetration. Lining up in the I-formation? A lot of cocks in the backfield. The other team gets called for pass interference? Can’t keep his hands off that cock!

As each new person in the cabin woke up, the process would start all over again. Except for one guy, who was convinced South Carolina was in Canada.

If you would think repeating “That Cock split the uprights” every time a field goal or PAT was kicked would get boring, I direct you again to the Cu Chi Tunnel discussion. Over a decade later, when Jadeveon Clowney hit Vincent Smith in another Outback Bowl, my phone blew up with texts: “They just cock-smacked that dude’s hat off!!” And when South Carolina won the second of their back-to-back College World Series titles, I couldn’t get to Twitter fast enough to congratulate them for rising up and finishing twice in a row.

Before 2000, the Cocks were relatively unknown. They were Baby Cocks – small, barely noticeable, not really sure what they were there for. Lou Holtz ushered in the awkward teenage years, when the Cocks occasionally rose up and made everyone know they were there, but most of the time was spent fumbling around in the wrong direction. There were a few quicks flashes and spurts, but not against anyone that mattered, and the best that could be said was that they could “hold their own.”

Then Lou Holtz left coaching to do impressions of Sylvester the Cat on ESPN.

So the Cocks hired Steve Spurrier and entered the prime of their lives. It didn’t matter who they faced, they were ready to hit it hard and hit it fast. Waking up Sunday morning and looking over at the fresh tail of Gator or Bulldog they had plowed through the night before.  Fielding calls from AP Pollsters who wanted the blow-by-blow of how it all went down. They even tapped the Ol’ Top 10 List from time to time.

But after a decade, that relationship started to get old. Even before this year, the Spurrier-Cock duo had lost a step. They weren’t quite getting up for the big games anymore. More often than not, when the pre-game excitement rose, they had trouble showing up at all. Some of those games, they were finished after running through the tunnel at the start.

Did the romance grow stale? Did the Cocks just not do it for Spurrier anymore or did all of his old moves no longer get their juices flowing? Every commercial break during the baseball playoffs tells me that this is common in older men. Maybe they should’ve looked for some little blue pills.

But now that marriage is now over.

Now that the Cocks might not be relevant, maybe it’s time to move them to the Pac-12. Just imagine annual games against USC (“That Trojan defense is preventing the Cocks from depositing their cargo into the endzone!”). And the Washington State Cougars would always be happy when the Cocks come to town. Then, of course, there would be the games against the Oregon State Beavers. I think those games would have to be broadcast on Pay-Per-View to avoid FCC fines.

In fact, maybe they should form a brand new, “All Innuendo” conference. Take those four teams and throw in the Wichita State Shockers. Ball State and Sac State would be an instant rivalry. Maybe throw the Massachusetts Minutemen in. Would the Crimson Tide be taking it too far?

Regardless of where they play, they are at a crossroads. They are really in the same spot as any recently-divorced Cock. Do they realize their best days are behind them and settle for some Saturday afternoon dates with the sweet Tar Heel or Volunteer from the next block over, maybe spiced up with an occasional minor Bowl game in mid-December to think back on those crazy younger days? Or do they find some fresh new piece of ass- istant coach that helps them rediscover that virility that was lost?

I know what I’m rooting for!  Come and sing their new alma mater with me!

Get up ye Mighty Great Cocks
How turgidly ye rise
Thrust! Firm!
Plunge! Deep!
And depositing your seed
Into the eeeeeeeeeend-zooooooooone!