How Does Alabama’s Mascot Fare Against the SEC’s Best?
By: Larry Burton
When it comes to mascots in the SEC, Alabama certainly scores points in originality with an Elephant. They are the only school, not just in the SEC, but the whole NCAA with an elephant for a mascot. That does help it score points overall in a conference with three Tigers, LSU, Auburn and Missouri and two bulldogs, Georgia and Mississippi State.
That’s five of fourteen teams with at least another team sharing a mascot of sorts or more than one third.
Then there are lots of teams with confusing mascots and conflicting mascots. Alabama is one of them. They are known as the Crimson Tide but their mascot is an Elephant. Auburn is the home of the Tigers, but their mascot is also a live Golden Eagle. But no one is more confusing than Tennessee, who has a live blue tick hound named Smokey, a person in a dog costume and another person in a frontier musket man costume but they are the Volunteers.
What exactly is the dog volunteering?
But rating the mascots is not all just about originality, less confusion, supposed fierceness or sheer coolness, live or cartoon mascots, but a great combination of many different things.
So here is the ranking that finally gives the final ratings the great SEC mascot debate.
Starting at number 14 and working our way all the way up to number one, here goes the countdown.
14. Ole Miss – The Rebels had a very cool and traditional mascot in Col. Reb, but they caved to political pressure and changed to of all things, a black bear. They are even trying to change their name from Ole Miss to Mississippi. For confusing the fans and picking a mascot that had nothing to do with Ole Miss, the state of Mississippi or any of the schools tradition, Ole Miss simply has to come in last place in this contest.
Col. Reb was no more rebel than than the Running Rebels of Las Vegas. The SEC is all about tradition and it was a shame that this one got wrecked.
13. Tennessee – With three mascots representing two different entities, dogs and musket men, to represent Volunteers, it just doesn’t resonate a cohesive mascot sense. Old Smokey, the real mascot, has the personality of dog on downers and acts as if he’s about to die of old age at any moment. Then they’ve got a musket man with a gun, but is too politically correct to point it at any opposing team and he looks like Daniel Boone, only that guy’s from Kentucky, so that doesn’t make sense either. Then they don’t even bother to give him a name. Sorry Tennessee.
12. South Carolina – The Gamecocks should get points for originality, can you name another team with a chicken for a mascot? They must be secure in their manhood, they call their chicken mascot Cocky, and the live mascot is called Sir Big Spur. It makes you wonder if they’re compensating for something. While they do get some points for a clear concise mascot, staying on mascot message and not being confusing, for God’s sake, it’s a glorified chicken!
Just how intimidating is even a fighting chicken?
11. Auburn – Do they have one mascot or two? Technically they are the Auburn Tigers. Tigers are about the most overused mascot in all of football, so no points for originality there, but the costumed character, “Aubie” has won several mascot of the year awards and he is a crowd pleaser with his antics.
But do they have a live tiger at the campus? No, but they have a Golden Eagle. The story behind the eagle is cool and they should have just adopted to Eagle as their mascot and dropped the tiger, but having two mascots is just downright confusing. Bringing both to the stadium shows you can’t just decide on one.
So while Auburn fans will cry bias here, most fans with no dog in the hunt in the SEC readily agree with the placement here at number 11.
10. Texas A&M – Aggies is a short nickname for agriculturists and does anything say farmer more than a collie dog? The school is best known as having a large military contingent but that has nothing to do with either being an Aggie or collie. But Reveille hasn’t always been a collie, the first dog was a mixed breed, the second a Shetland sheepdog, then they went to collies and all were female.
Though they have been using dogs as a mascot since the first one actually was a world war II veteran, nothing about this is really steeped in school tradition other than them burying them all together in special plot in front of Kyle Field, but at least Reveille is an active mascot during games.
9. Arkansas – Though they have a unique mascot, the Razorback, they don’t have a unique razorback. They have a love one, Tusk IV, but then it gets confusing, they also have costume ones with the names of Boss Hog and Ribby for basketball only, and the Sue-E and Pork Chop for football. Is that going just a little far?
Why schools feel they need a female and male costumed mascot is another irritating thing. So while they had a great idea, they just took it way too far.
8. Florida – This school is in a state with 1,564.319 alligators in it, a number I just made up, but the point is, with all those gators, they can’t have a live one somewhere on campus? So while they get points for a unique mascot and one that has state significance, they lose points for not having a real one somewhere to point to? I’m not advocating taking it to games and putting it on the sidelines, but sheesh, they should have one somewhere.
Then there’s that irritating female gator, Alberta, complete with a bow in her hair to go along with Albert, the male costumed gator. With a live gator on campus and ditching the silly female gator, they could be way higher on this list and a potential contender.
7. Alabama – They may have a lot going for them in football right now, but mascot wise, they’re hurting. To start off with, Alabama was a school with no mascot. They simply were Alabama. Now that was downright boring.
So press writers finally stuck them with two. One said that in their crimson jerseys, they looked like a crimson tide sweeping the field. So now they were the Alabama Crimson Tide. But it’s kind of hard to turn that into a mascot, so it’s never been attempted. They could be one of the only schools with no mascot for one of their main names.
Then there is the elephant. That too was dubbed on them by a west coast sports writer who saw them unloading the team’s baggage with red elephants adorning them. That was simply a moving company’s logo from the company that was hired to transport all the baggage and equipment. The writer thought that must be the team’s mascot and wrote about the Red Elephants from Alabama. It just stuck. But there is has never been a live elephant on the team.
So I’m really being generous with the Tide here. They get points for two unique names that no one else has, but lose some for never having picked one in the first place and then being saddled with an elephant. An elephant? That’s not very common for the Alabama area or history.
6. Kentucky – The bluegrass state has a blue wildcat. Ok, that’s original, but there’s lots of other wildcats. They have a live one, of course named Blue, and two costumed ones, Scratch and the other so wonderfully named, The Wildcat.
So they lose points by having two costumed wildcats. Why or why the need to overdue something?
5. Vanderbilt – The Commodores dug deep and came up with a commodore mascot, Mr. C, a costumed naval commodore that while they get points for originality, he winds up looking like a sissy child molester in some of the costumes they put him in.
He’s been known in fact to just downright scare little children with those creepy looks. So this was just a good idea not thoroughly thought through.
4. Missouri – Some people will freak seeing this mascot so low on the list. Their costumed tiger, Truman the Tiger, has won many mascot of the year many times. And in true Missouri fashion, he’s named after the most famous Missourian, Harry Truman. But they lose too many points in this competition for not having a live tiger somewhere on campus.
There used to be another mascot, known only as “The Tiger”, but he was replaced in 1986 after “The Tiger”, a grey and black variety, became too associated with obscene gestures made toward visitors. I don’t know whether to give or take points for that. All’s fair in love and war. But Googling that story is worth a few clicks.
3. Mississippi State – While losing some points for being another bulldog, they do have a live one and he comes to games. His name is Bully and the costumed bulldog is also names Bully. So what they lose in originality, they make up for in a simple clear mascot message.
But in the world of the SEC, these will always the “other” bulldogs and their bulldog if seen in public is not as instantly recognized as the one from Georgia.
2. LSU – Mike is the name of both the costumed and real tiger, though the real tiger’s full name is Mike VI. Yes, they are tigers, but unlike Missouri and Auburn, these are Bengal Tigers, so they don’t lose any points from lack of originality. They also score points for staying on message with the Bengal Tiger as their sole mascot, staying on message and even not confusing fans with different names for each.
And LSU shares Mike with their fans. They have a very cool habitat for Mike VI where fans can go and snap pictures of the famous mascot. This wasn’t cheap and isn’t cheap to maintain, so this just shows the love LSU has for the Tiger.
1. And who sits atop the mascot throne in the SEC? Georgia! Yes they lose points for lack of originality, but their bulldog isn’t a run of mill mutt. Uga, the name for the dog, is very unique, it’s the letters of the University of Georgia. And all of the Uga’s of late have been pure white ones. With that Georgia sweater, he’s an iconic instantly recognized symbol of the university.
Even after losing points for not being on campus all the time, (Uga IX, like the other “official” Ugas, live in Savannah, Georgia, with their masters the Seiler family, this mascot makes up those points and more with sheer coolness.
So revered is the Uga name, that the costumed mascot dare not try and tread on that turf, his name is Hairy Dog, but like Uga, he’s that pure white bulldog so synonymous with Georgia football.
But what makes this mascot so cool is the legacy earned by Uga V injecting himself not only into a game, but into football legend. On the final play of the first quarter in a 1996 Auburn-Georgia game, Auburn running back Robert Baker scored on a 6-yard pass, putting Auburn up 14-7. The team inspired by Uga obviously not willing to down without a fight, went on to tie the game on the final play of the game. They went on to play four overtimes before Georgia finally won the game 56-49 in a game for the ages.
Even Vince Dooley, former Georgia coach, remarked, “How could we quit fighting when even old Uga was giving it everything he had?”
And that is how Georgia rates “Top Dog” in this contest. See the video Uga takes matters into his own teeth.
Comments are welcome and I look forward to your views on this subject.