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The 10 Worst College Mascots

There are few things that seem worse to me than the idea of wearing a 100 pound costume in a crowded stadium full of drunken college sports fans all for the sake of team spirit. That is, unless it’s one of these 10 costumes…

So in honor of of March Madness, and with Wichita State making it to the sweet 16, I bring you the 10 worst college mascots.

The Stanford Tree

The Stanford tree is probably among the ugliest costumes for a college athletic mascot out there. The costume itself isn’t even standard by any means (it’s more or less “up to interpretation”), and it isn’t exactly an official mascot of the Stanford University Cardinals anyways — technically it’s the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band‘s mascot.

Stanford Tree tryouts. Do you have what it takes? I hope not.
The Stanford Cardinal was adopted in the early 1970’s shortly after moving away from the Indian in a move to make the school’s representation more politically correct. Around the same time, ‘The Tree’ was one of the more well received song and dance half-time routines by the school’s marching band. Eventually, the band adopted this poorly designed mascot to become its representative… and it stuck.

Band members can try out for the mascot by performing their own outrageous acts to impress the selection committee. So outrageous, in fact, that some events were banned for fear of serious injury.

But despite the interesting history and context of this hilariously bad mascot, to most outsiders, it’s just bad. Must be an inside joke.

The Wichita State ‘WuShock’

WuShock, or Wu for short, is literally a “shock” of wheat. Shocking, or the harvesting of wheat, is where the unofficial name of the Wichita State “Wheat Shockers” came from going all the way back in 1904. Now known just as the “shockers”, the school has adopted this blond … thing … as their mascot.

Congrats on making the sweet 16. Now get a new mascot...
Having gone through a number of makeovers, the mascot itself isn’t any less confusing, or any more intimidating than it was 50+ years ago. And as such, it continues to make its way onto lists such as these, for good reason.

UC Santa Cruz’s Sammy the Slug

This … unique … mascot is the chosen representation of University of California Santa Cruz: a banana slug. That would be this thing:

This is a banana slug...
In 1980, the school joined Division III in 5 athletic competitions, and a committee changed the school’s mascot to what was thought to be a more dignified representation: the sea lion. But when the students overwhelmingly rejected the new mascot, a straw poll was held just 16 years later, and the yellow slug won by a 15:1 ratio.

Sammy the slug in all his...slimy glory.
This creature, native to Santa Cruz, may be slow and slimy to the touch, but as the students love to boast, the banana slug has no known predators. Intimidating.

Delta State University’s Fighting Okra

  • Some say: the Okra holds the secrets to the universe in its hands but never unclenches its fist.
  • Some say: the Okra has never been seen smiling.
  • Some say: even Chuck Norris fears the Okra.

I have to give it to Delta State. With such a lame mascot (I mean — okra??? Really?!?!), they’ve made it work. They put together a superb website dedicated to the mascot (where the above quotes were taken) and have numerous hilarious promotional videos like this one:

North Carolina School of the Arts’ Fighting Pickle

Who would win in a fight: the fighting pickle or the fighting okra? That used to be a question one could debate with some fervor (even though no one ever has). Now though, the fighting pickle has, well … lost.

Looks like this pickle has lost its fight.
The North Carolina School of the Arts has finally (officially) adopted this mascot, a new-and-improved mascot that incorporates the essence of this art school.  It has moved from the (less than) intimidating fighting pickle complete with boxing gloves to a resemblance of a French painter wearing what can only be described as a ruffled-piano-keys-shaped-tutu. This new mascot received the well-deserved “cheesiest mascot” award last year.

The most interesting part: they don’t have a single athletics program.

University of Tulsa’s Captain Cane

While the current version isn’t even half as bad as what it was just a few years ago, it’s still not good.

The old captain cane...
Captain Cane, of the University of Tulsa Hurricanes is still bad enough to make the list. It’s both brutishly terrifying and embarrassingly geeky at the same time.

A modest improvement...
Not sure if it’s the face, boots, cape, lightning sword, or some combination of the whole thing (I believe that’s it). Whatever it is, it’s probably time for another update.

The Evergreen State Geoducks

If you’ve never seen a geoduck before, Google it right now. It might be the grossest creature you have ever seen.

Well evidently Evergreen State College of Olympia, Washington has made it their school mascot. And if the idea of making such a creature your school mascot isn’t bad enough, the representation of it seals the deal. From concept to execution, this is a mascot fail. Let’s just hope this mascot doesn’t last quite as long as the 150 year life expectancy of the burrowing clam it personifies.

Not even close...
Just for kicks, here’s the lyrics to the Geoducks fight song:

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.

Go, Geoducks go,
Stretch your necks when the tide
is low
Siphon high, squirt it out,
swivel all about,
let it all hang out.

Concordia College’s Kernel Cobb

Seriously, vegetables just don’t make for very good mascots. It’s one thing to adopt corn as a part of your schools identity, but it’s quite another to have someone dress up as a humanized version of it. It just doesn’t work.

At least it's still on the cob.
Kernel Cobb of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota is just that. I’m not sure why anyone would agree to wear something like that… scholarships?

Scottsdale Community College’s Artie the Artichoke

Artie the artichoke is actually one of my favorite on this list. Not just because the costume is actually a bit endearing, even if it is just a giant artichoke with a face, legs, and arms, but mostly because of its history. You see, this mascot is actually bad on purpose.

This is what happens when you cut the budget to arts programs in favor of sports...
I’m not kidding. From the Scottsdale website:

“Artie the Artichoke was adopted as the school’s mascot to express a difference of opinion concerning budget priorities. Originally intended to be a source of embarrassment, Artie has been embraced by students, athletes, staff, and the community as a beloved character.”

Rhode Island School of Design’s Scrotie

One student started wearing the costume to attend sporting events and rile up fans screaming chants like: “Support your BALLS” (BALLS is their basketball team) and “Go NADS!” (hockey). Eventually the school embraced it.

Go Nads!
And so with that, I think I’m done with the internet for the day. Cool sports stress balls and other recreation items will only take you so far when your mascot is horrendous. Maybe it’s time to consider a Mustang or Tiger instead?

Which of these mascots do you think is the worst? Know of any other bad ones? Sound off in the comments below!

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Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa loves food. A LOT. Particularly pizza and popcorn, but she knows beggars can’t be choosers. When she’s not stuffing her face (which is rare), she loves watching movies, playing volleyball and softball, and engaging in any number of interesting shenanigans. If she had to pick a spirit animal, she’d be an otter because they are playful and love to laugh. Most of the time she’s laughing at herself, whether other people are laughing with or at her is to be determined.


  1. Bret Bonnet

    Go nads!

  2. Jana Quinn

    Basically, the takeaway here is that vegetables = fail.

  3. Allz

    The Concordia College mascot is named Kernel Cobb, not Cobber. The teams and fans are called the cobbers. Our slogan is Fear the Ear and we have giant corn hats that are like the Packers cheese heads but it’s an ear of corn. At first it’s embarrassing, but you learn to be proud of it after a couple of years. 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks for pointing that out! I updated the post accordingly.

      And hey, it’s always good to be proud of your local mascot! 🙂

  4. Badjeerabadger

    At least all the mascots here have legs. Our local school’s mascot was Triton (a Greek merman god) and during a sporting event the cheerleeding squad showed up with…a shirtless guy in a mermaid tail. Who then had to awkwardly hop around sack-race style since he couldn’t walk in his costume.

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