(oh, and Baldwin…if you’re reading this…I updated the Cornholers page per your request)
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas A&M Aggies vs. Nortwestern Wildcats
The Meineke people aren’t the ones who will turn your muffler to gold with just a touch, but they will keep that titanium in your catalytic converter which might be worth more anyway depending on the market. I’m not sure those Meineke people would be thrilled to see either a Buick Wildcat (60′s lead sled) or a Bowler Wildcat (British off-roader) roll into the shop, but I’m thinking they’ll be better prepared to handle either one of those over an Aggie’s tractor or tank (depending on which of the A or M you emphasize). I know the game’s in Houston. I know that’s where Meineke was founded. I know the game’s logo is a football-shaped belt buckle. I don’t care. There’s no way you’re getting a Pershing or a John Deere up on a car lift…period.
WINNER: Willie the Wildcat
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Utah Utes
The folks at Hyundai would like you to know their name rhymes with Sunday. How ironic, a Korean company lecturing us on pronunciation. I’ll tell you what my Seoul-mates, when you can get through this sentence without screwing up, “Hey Henry, let’s go to Philadelphia for some fried rice,” I’ll be more receptive to Korean pronunciation guides. Hey, my wife and in-laws drive Hyundai’s religiously, so I feel like I’ve earned a pot shot. Speaking of driving, there’s no archeological evidence that the Utes took advantage of automobiles during the height of their culture…what?…oh, right cars weren’t invented yet. Nevertheless, those high country nomads would have adapted to a Hyundai (a modified Santa Fe four-wheel drive perhaps) the same way they adapted to the horse. The biggest nuisance is cleaning those Yellow Jackets off the windshield.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
I’d like to thank the AutoZone promotions department for not succumbing to peer pressure from some of their competitors and avoiding a Tourette’s inspired jingle like: Oh-Oh-Oh…O’Reillyyyyyyy! or N-N-N-N-N-Napa knowhow! Those damn commercials get me dropping f-f-f-f-f-ing f-bombs quicker than Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf at the free-throw line. As far as these two mascots go, neither one has much use for an auto parts store: a Bearcat would get animal control called on him and there’s no way in hell a naval officer is working on his own car. In terms of liberty, if a bearcat (aka: wolverine) and a Commodore were to meet eye to eye, odds are it’ll be at the Memphis Zoo and I’ll let you guess which one is inside the cage…
WINNER: Mr. C
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. UCLA Bruins
What, did we run out of auto-related sponsors? As if one football game inside a baseball stadium wasn’t enough, San Francisco got into the act hosting this one in the Giant’s AT&T Park. How you gonna let a rival food company creep in and punk you like that in your own backyard, Rice-A-Roni? Speaking of getting punked, Illinois dumped their mascot Chief Illiniwek in 2007 amid pressure from the NCAA and the Peoria Tribe. So much for “fighting.” Bears, on the other hand, fight hunger by gorging up to 40 pounds a day during tourist season and then sleep it off all winter. Hmmm, that sounds like my eating habits from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
WINNER: Joe & Josephine Bruin
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Auburn Tigers
In case you’ve never sat in a Chick-fil-A drive through on a Sunday afternoon wondering why nobody’s offering to take your order, let me save you the trouble. They’re closed. That’s right, the people who want you to “Eat mor chikin” also want you to make sure you get that done before the Sabbath. I wonder if those spokes-cows know they’re on the menu by default once a week. Somebody should call their agent. I also wonder if the Chick-fil-A people realize how long a college football game can last. I mean, kickoff in Atlanta is at 7:30 Eastern on Saturday night! If this game goes into overtime they’re almost guaranteed to still be playing after midnight!! That’s a 65-year tradition down the crapper!!! I mean, what are they going to do, cut the lights at 11:59 and call it a tie?! If that was the backup plan they should have scheduled the game at Candlestick!!!! Oh, I’m so distraught right now I can’t even concentrate.
WINNER: The dark side…
Ticketcity Bowl: Houston Cougars vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
…which explains why our next sponsor invited the most corrupt and repulsive football program in history down to Dallas to play in the most opulent and prodigious stadium in history. I hate to get all serious on you but it would have been real simple to send a message to Paternoville about how the rest of the nation viewed his administration’s lack of action, but not if there’s money out there to be made, right Ticketcity? We all know these bowl games and their sponsors are lurking in a cesspool of greed and corruption, but this one is so obvious I can’t even poke fun at it. Why the NCAA didn’t slap a postseason ban on Penn State as an appetizer for a death penalty entrée is beyond me. I guess they’re too busy fretting about recruiting violations and politically incorrect mascots to waste their time with some petty child molestation charges.
WINNER: Stub Hub
Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State Seminoles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Maybe you’re strolling through the mall and you’re saying to yourself, “Self, would I rather patronize Champs or Foot Locker?” Well, I’m here to save you some agony this Christmas season, because Foot Locker owns Champs so the money is all going to the same place. You can thank me later. I don’t know why Foot Locker wouldn’t slap their name on this bowl game instead…maybe it’s because people would wander onto the field confusing the referees for Foot Locker employees. “Do you have this in a ten-and-a-half?” Angry security meatheads horse-collaring potential customers is bad for business. The last time I strolled into my local, unfriendly, mall sporting goods store I didn’t notice flaming spears or green three-piece suits, so I’m not sure what Champs has to offer either mascot. I did notice the Irish mascot wearing sneakers in a Google image search however.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Washington Huskies vs. Baylor Bears
Who better to remember the Alamo than a chain of gas stations? I mean I’m sure Davey Crockett pictured some ten gallon wearin’, trophy wife havin’, Coupe de Ville with longhorns on the grill drivin’ Texas oil man livin’ the dream as they fought to the death against Santa Anna…right? Well, I know they’re handing out driver’s licenses (licensi?) like candy these days, but I have yet to see a bear or a husky filling ‘er up on the corner. Buuuut I could see a dog or a bear filling ‘er up on the crap they call “food” inside the gas station. Shoot, given the average husky runs 40-60 pounds, while the average bear runs 400-600, I could see the Bears filling ‘er up on some Huskies while their at it.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Brigham Young Cougars vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Do you think the Bell Helicopter people were pissed about Army and Navy not achieving bowl eligibility and Air Force going with Northrop Grumman? Then they offer bids to the flagship Mormon university, who skirmished with the US Armed Forces in the 19th Century and a program nicknamed after a weather event that isn’t exactly helicopter-friendly. I decided to check out the spin on the official Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl webiste, but up jumped Lieutenant Dan on my screen like a bullet into Forrest Gump’s buttocks. I was so distracted I forgot what the hell I was doing there. Well played Bell Helicopter…well played.
WINNER: Doesn’t matter. LOSER: All my co-workers who will have to endure my Forrest Gump impressions today! Consider this an apology in advance…
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Iowa State Cyclones
As if some of the previous sponsors haven’t been ridiculous enough, now we have a baseball cap manufacturer hosting a football game in Yankee Stadium, with the bowl game named after the most famous feature of the Yankees baseball uniforms. What?! Is this a plot to popularize pinstripes on football uniforms? Hopefully, the Yankees crew didn’t do a good job locking up the equipment room before they shut it down for the season. The Cyclones will make quite a spectacle with a funnel cloud full of bats and balls, but the Knights will truly impress by blasting that flotsam and jetsam over the short fence in right field.
WINNER: Scarlet Knight
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Your TARP money hard at work. I don’t know if Franklin American Mortgage actually received any bailout money from the taxpayers courtesy of our spineless federal government, but let’s pretend they did for the purposes of bashing them. They should be passing out bubble wands shaped like houses to the first 10,000 fans. Who knows, maybe Nashville doesn’t appreciate the irony of their bowl’s sponsor since their foreclosure rate is far below the national average. Documented income is key to qualifying for a mortgage in the post-housing bubble market, however. According to SimplyHired.com, dog models out earn deacons 56k to 52k annually, and that’s not even considering what a tough sell a Demon Deacon would be to a potential congregation given all the mixed messages in the name. (BTW: Bloggers average 32k…well isn’t that something to covet)
Insight Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Speaking of bubbles, do you remember when this thing was called the Insight.com Bowl? Back in the late 90′s people were throwing money at dot-com frat boys like they were tulip speculators in 17th Century Holland. Insight must have had something more to offer than just “hits” since they survived the rollercoaster, but they were wise to drop the dot-com label that had become about as popular as Charlie Sheen a couple of shows into his sold out tour. The Hawkeyes borrowed their nickname from the hero of The Last of the Mohicans, a renowned rifleman. The Sooners got their nickname by cheating in various land runs held in Oklahoma. Settlers lined up around the given boundaries ready to burst across and stake their claim at sunrise, only to find the best plots had already been taken the night before. Talk about insight…if the Sooners had been lined up around Iowa instead of Oklahoma back in the pioneer days, I guess we’d be calling them the Nebraska Hawkeyes, now wouldn’t we.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
My motel experience is much more extensive than hotels, but I’ll assume a Sheraton is a step up from Motel 6. With that understood, the odds of sneaking a pack of wolves or a flock of eagles past the front desk seems a bit slim. And even if they do make it to their respective suites, how long can the howling and screeching go on before security gets called and sees that Nevada’s room is shredded and Southern Miss’s wreaks of rotting fish and rodent carcasses. That bill is going to be tough to justify for either athletic department’s expense report. Honestly, the odds of the Wolf Pack even making it to the Islands are almost nil since swimming it will be much tougher than flying…they’ll probably get distracted by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch anyway.
WINNER: Seymore d’Campus
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. North Carolina Tarheels
This is the first bowl game I can think of sponsored by a specific product, not just a company. AdvoCare is a nutrition supplement company that features the V100 multivitamin as something ”coaches looking for an NCAA permissible product for collegiate athletes” can use. Well I guess that makes sense, but is the pill cleared for feline use? Even if it is, are there any volunteers running around Shreveport, LA willing to shove a multivitamin down a tiger’s throat once daily? Probably not. So with the advantage of a 100% daily dose of many essential vitamins and minerals, the Tarheels should take this one in a rout.
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Purdue Boilermakers
You’ll notice one of three things when leaving any Little Caesars: a pawn shop, an abandoned car or a robbery in progress. For those of you who have never been exposed to Little Caesars, it ranks on the pizza food chain somewhere between Tombstones and the “old” Dominos. Their tagline, “Pizza! Pizza!” may be the greatest ever conceived because the only positive thing you can say about their product is that…according to eyewitness testimony…it is in fact pizza. Acknowledging the Broncos might have the hook up with this Michigan based franchise hosting a bowl game in Detroit, I don’t think they’ll be able to get a pie with legumes and sugar cubes on it because we’re not talking the California Pizza Kitchen here. Just one look at a Boilermaker and you know those dudes have paid to eat worse things for lunch because they’ll simply chase it with their namesake (a boilermaker is a shot and a beer, for the unacquainted). So with a belly full of bad attitude, the Boilermakers will crush those famished ponies.
WINNER: Purdue Pete
Belk Bowl: Louisville Cardinals vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack
Isn’t a Belk Bowl what you need after a night of heavy drinking? Belk is the Kmart of the South, or at least that’s what Google says when you ask: “What the hell is a Belk?” It’s the ugliest name for a bowl game according to the Bleacher Report annnnd conventional wisdom. I guess the players shouldn’t mind though, since they get to choose their own swag from the flagship store in Charlotte, the same city hosting the game. Who would balk at a shopping spree in Belk? Speaking of shopping, which mascot owns the merchandising advantage in the Belk search engine? Cardinals: 8 items; Wolfpack: 34…ballgame!
WINNER: Mr. and Mrs. Wuf
Military Bowl–Presented by Northrop Grumman: Air Force Falcons vs. Toledo Rockets
This is the most appropriately sponsored bowl game so far. Northrop Grumman is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world, not that you could tell from the PR-laced introduction on their home page, which makes them sound as harmless as a Costco-sized Geek Squad. (Paraphrasing) “We are a global security company that offers innovative solutions…(reading between the lines) and if that doesn’t work we’ll flatten those bitches into a parking lot!!!” What better matchup to showcase for their top clients in Washington, DC, than a team named after one of their top products versus the team that knows how to use them. Therein lies the problem for the Rockets: the Falcons have been training their whole adult lives to blow your asses up.
WINNER: The Bird
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: California Golden Bears vs. Texas Longhorns
Who knew you’d find irony in shameless corporate sponsorship of amateur athletic events? Bridgeport offers an online alternative to those seeking under or post grad degrees who can’t fit traditional universities into their budget or schedule…you mean like Cal or Texas perhaps? Bridgepoint even has two campuses (campi?) of their own: Ashland University with no football team, and University of the Rockies with no athletic department. Is anybody else picking up on the contradiction here? Since the game is in San Diego, and the theme is deceit, then I’m going to have to side with the Bears on this one because we all know those furry little fuzzballs seem so cute and approachable right up until they swipe your face off.
I had come up with a number of scenarios for my absence (alien abduction, secret CIA mission, etc) but my producer (aka: my ”don’t call me the wife”) deemed them too cliché. She did find my hobby farm story entertaining but let’s face it: you won’t find me anywhere near any undertaking that involves getting up before the sun everyday. It’s too bad, because the timeline of planting season to harvest would have fit perfectly with my disappearance from the web. My wedding is probably the only major event I can pinpoint even loosely as a factor in my sabbatical, but when you really break it down my attention span isn’t the most intense…Oooo! SQUIRREL!…what was I saying?
But, she (who from now on will be known as “Schmitten”) really deserves some credit for my return as well. Schmitten is the pragmatist in this relationship, while I’m the starstruck dreamer plotting schemes that waaaaaay out-kick their coverage. That’s why for at least the 2011 Mascotology Bowl Challenge you won’t see any links, pictures or graphics…just a stream of consciousness that will hopefully be completed before the bowl games begin. WHAT?! Me make a deadline? Now isn’t THAT a novel concept…
Ps-Schmitten and her cousin (aka: Chardonnay) found my About the Author page silly, and think I should take it more seriously. Did you ladies just meet me?! Anyway, I may heed their advice, but I’m open to other opinions…
The BCS and the accompanying Bowl system is a joke. Most of us realize that. So if you’re willing to make a mockery of your office Bowl Pool the same way you botched your bracket, let us be your humble guide. Since the Bowls aren’t seeded like teams are in March Madness, we’ll use the sponsors as a deciding factor, along with location and of course…the mascots.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Temple Owls vs. Wyoming Cowboys
Gildan is a global clothing producer based out of Montreal, Canada. So it makes sense they’d choose to host a bowl game in an international textile-production hub like…Albuquerque?! I thought the only thing the Duke City produced was dust storms and disappointment. I have no idea what drew French Canadians to the heart of the American Southwest, but I can guarantee they don’t manufacture clothes for Owls. Feathers will fly when Wyoming’s Cowboy fills the Temple Owl full of lead (and he’ll look good doing it in his brand new brown and gold threads).
WINNER: Pistol Pete/Cowboy Joe.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio Bobcats vs. Utah State Aggies
Formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl (you know it’s a bad recession when a virtue gets replaced by a vegetable), this Boise-based barn-burner is trying to join the ranks of more prestigious plant-based bowls like the Peach, Cotton and Orange. According to the Idaho Potato Commission, Ohio is among the top consumers of spuds…advantage Bobcats. But Utah State’s blue and white blends in perfectly with Bronco Stadium’s ”smurf turf”…advantage Aggies. Given the Aggies proximity to Boise and how a penchant for starchy foods makes for fat Bobcats, Ohio will get planted.
WINNER: Big Blue
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
R+L Carriers is an Ohio based trucking company that will ship anything, anywhere, anytime…GUARANTEED! Depending on which version of history you believe, the Aztecs shipped themselves from Central Arizona, to Mexico City, laid low for about 400 years and then popped up at an SDSU frat party. So road tripping in an 18-wheeler to NOLA should be no sweat. Fortunately for the Cajuns, R+L can also be designated driver since their ragin’ asses will be all strung out on Sazerac and Hurricanes. Unfortunately, R+L can’t provide a remedy for the hangover, which the Aztecs will take full advantage of come gametime.
WINNER: Aztec Warrior/Zuma the Puma
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg: Florida International Golden Panthers vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
I obviously don’t live within Beef ‘O’ Brady’s sphere of influence, because at first glance I assumed this was the college football version of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. In fact, “Beef’s” is a Florida based national chain of sports bar-n-grills founded to give neighborhood folks a place to “enjoy good food and sports in a fun, comfortable atmosphere.” FINALLY!! The funny thing is, I’ve spent my entire adult life frequenting such establishments and I’ve never even heard of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. Yet their website would have you believe they invented and monopolized the concept. Therefore, the winner of this contest will be the mascot most able to completely destroy a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant. A panther let loose in the place could certainly clear out the patrons, shred the upholstery and piss in so many corners Mike Rowe wouldn’t volunteer for the cleanup crew…but alas, that just won’t cut it. With any luck, a Thundering Herd could flatten multiple locations before police close in and add them to the menu for just $2 more than a beef patty.
WINNER: Marco the Buffalo
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Texas Christian Horned Frogs vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
They will let seriously let ANYONE sponsor a bowl game. What’s next, the Smith, Callum, O’Donnell & Smallwood Personal Injury Bowl? Bring in your ticket stub for free legal advice? Unbelievable. The deciding question here is which mascot would SDCCU be more likely to loan money? A bulldog seems like trustworthy character, but he is after all a dog, and will probably start chewing on the poinsettias, making himself violently sick and thus drawing his judgement into question. The frog, typical of his unshakable patience, will wait until after the bulldog shits the bed to produce a copy of The Frog Prince. Using the Brother’s Grimm fairytale as a business model, the credit union will have no choice but to loan him ample cash and flowers for his global princess kissing tour.
WINNER: Super Frog
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Boise State Broncos
“Uh-oh. Better get MAACO!” (beep, beep). Damn catchy tag lines! We all know what MAACO does, but which mascot would most benefit from their services? Presumably they have a ton of experience fixing up old Ford Broncos, even ones that carried former Heisman Trophy winners with a guilty conscience and a gun to their own head. A sun devil is another name for a dust devil, a whirlwind that spontaneously forms in the desert whipping up dirt. What better windfall for an auto body shop than a sand-blasting, paint-peeling, window-shattering mini tornado blowing right into the Las Vegas desert. Uh-oh…
Tulsa, OK-Jay from Kansas knows Oklahoma well, he spent this season beating up on every mascot the OK state had to offer. A hybrid of the bluejay and sparrow hawk, he’s loud enough to get your attention, and fast enough to snatch whatever he wants. And let’s face it, dogs are easily distracted. Boston’s Terrier will never see it coming.
Tulsa, OK-Technically, Chief Illiniwek retired as Illinois’ mascot in 2007, but with no replacement they leave me no choice. The school adopted the Fighting Illini nickname to honor their WWI vets, so make the mascot a Doughboy already! That should keep all the pacifists in Champaign busy. I’m sure the politically correct crowd will be gunning for UNLV’s mascot next, but he’ll have plenty of time to plan his defense since nobody’s going to show up for this fight.
WINNER: Runnin’ Rebels
Denver, CO-Something tells me a Commodore isn’t the type to shriek and run away when he sees one, or even five spiders on the wall. Even though Vandy’s Mr. C is getting up there in years, you can see he still has arachnid-smashing guns…if that is what Richmond’s Spidey is supposed to represent. Should somebody tell them spiders have eight legs, no? But even with a full complement of appendages, Spidey wouldn’t be able to count the number of beatings he’s about to catch.
Denver, CO-The cardinal: a tiny, seed eating passerine (perching bird) native to North and South America. The eagle: a large, flesh-eating raptor with a sharp beak and powerful talons. Can 13 Louisville Cardinals benefit from a better than three-to-one advantage? Only if they bring Louisville Sluggers. Morehead State’s Beaker will rip the Red Birds to shreds.
Chicago, IL-A Georgetown Hoya is a dog, and a VCU Ram just looks like one. What’s a Hoya? Apparently the nickname derived from a Greek/Latin hybrid chant, “Hoya Saxa!” which was popular on campus around the turn of the 20th Century. This is why members of the Classics Club shouldn’t be allowed to congregate in public. The Rams will be outnumbered almost two-to-one, but they’ll be well rested since they only have to travel from Dayton. The booksmart Hoyas would be wise to not even show up, but either way they’re going down.
Chicago, IL-Saint Peter’s nicknamed themselves the Peacocks upon reopening in 1930. The peacock is a Christian symbol for resurrection. In nature, the peacock (male) displays his plumage to impress the peahen (female). In nature, Rowdy, the Purdue Boilermaker, is more impressed with good caulk than good plumage. He and 13 of his buddies could take this one half-cocked. (That’s right, I just used the word cock–or caulk–in five different sentences without ONCE slipping into the gutter. My momma must be reeeeeeeal proud.)
Chicago, IL-A&M’s original mascot was almost named road kill. Reveille I was a stray mutt that got hit by a car full of partying cadets in 1931. She survived, they felt sorry for her and they took her back to campus. She was named after the famous bugle call because she howled along with it and busted her newfound caretakers. Surely cadets have improved their ability to sneak bitches into their rooms, but there’s no way a bunch of collies will sneak by Darth Maul’s cousin, FSU’s Chief Osceola.
Chicago, IL-Too bad this isn’t a straight up match because both mascots have a reputation for boxing. Akron’s Zippy the Kangaroo would have a distinct advantage because Notre Dame’s Leprechaun did his best fighting last night at the bars. But with 14 of his Guiness-swilling mates to back him up, these Leprechauns are going to pull that marsupial’s pouch over its head and beat it like a bodhran.
WINNER: Fighting Irish
Oh look, it’s a bracket with no play-in game. What a novel concept…
Charlotte, NC-How long do you think it’ll be before one of these pirate mascots starts looking like Captain Jack Sparrow? The Outer Banks are no stranger to pirate shenanigans, but every pirate knows they have to come ashore if they want to pillage. Hampton’s Pirate is no exception. When he gets to Duke’s backyard, though, I’d give 15 Blue Devils the day off and still like my chances. Hope the Pirate is prepared to meet Davey Jones…Yaaarrr.
WINNER: Blue Devils
Charlotte, NC-It’s no wonder Tennessee chose Smokey, a bluetick coonhound, to represent the Volunteer image. Dogs will sign up for anything: seeing-eye, drug sniffing, bomb sniffing, butt sniffing…you name it. They’re like a teenager with a skateboard, camcorder, rooftop and an unhealthy Red Bull habit, “Just point me to the danger, bro.” Well, the danger is that angry little fuzzball to the left that doesn’t like his picture taken. In fact, I bet that Michigan Wolverine doesn’t like anything, especially a hound sniffing and drooling all around his sweet bachelor burrow. There’s gonna be a lot of whining on the way back to Rocky Top.
Tulsa, OK-You gotta give Pouncer of Memphis some credit: he knows he’s outnumbered; he knows he’s in unfamiliar territory; he knows he’s gotta create a diversion…why not run around with no pants on? That’s what I would do. Plus, with a handful of college towns in between Tuscon and Tulsa, there’s no doubt Wilbur Wildcat’s pack is going to embark on an epic bender out from under his wife’s, Wilma, watchful eye. The average tiger outweighs the average wildcat at least two-to-one, negating Arizona’s advantage. I like Pouncer’s odds.
Tulsa, OK-The Texas Longhorns know Tulsa real well since it’s just a short right turn off the Chisolm Trail. Oakland’s Grizzly might be lost anywhere away from home since he probably spends most of his time explaining where home is. “Oh, you’re from Oakland? I love the Bay Area.”
“No, actually I’m from Rochester, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.”
“So why are you called Oakland University then?”
“Funny you should ask…ummm, do you hear that rumble?”
“Do you see that giant dust cloud coming towards us?”
Washington, DC-Cincinnati’s Bearcats should be right at home in DC given their propensity for criminal activity. Eleven bearcats might not be as big as one tiger, but Cincy ought to pull in to town before Missouri is even half way there. That’s plenty of time to lobby Capital Hill for refugee status, or blackmail a senator who’s got a thing for interns. Truman and his crew won’t even know what hit ‘em.
Washington, DC-The bison. Stoic giants of the plains. Majestic beast of legend. A bigger, leaner and tastier version of the cow, a fact not lost on Ted Turner or Jonathan, UConn’s Husky. You would certainly expect a pack of wolves to take down a bison, so why its closest relative. Bucknell’s Bucky Bison: it’s what’s for dinner.
Tucson, AZ-Is it just me, or does Penn State’s Nittany Lion look homeless? At least somebody gave him a scarf. Since Temple is also in Pennsylvania, both of these mascots have quite a roadie to Arizona. As if a 2,000 plus mile trek isn’t bad enough, it’s also a day game, which isn’t going to work out good for the nocturnal owls. Looks like the Nittany Lions will have some owl feathers to help keep him warm during those State College winters.
WINNER: Nittany Lions
Tucson, AZ-This one is as lopsided as the numbers indicate. The Bears have to saunter all the way to Southern Arizona from Northern Colorado, only to find 15 Aztec Warriors from San Diego waiting for them. The Aztecs already had Eagle and Jaguar Warriors in their military hierarchy, now they can add the bear.
I don’t know what I hate more: this expanded play-in format or the UAB Blazers. Back when the play-in was a 16 seed there was no way either mascot would beat a #1, so there was nothing to worry about. But now we’ve got frickin’ 12′s and 13′s that actually might have a shot, like when five Blazers take on 12 Mountaineers. Those damn dragons from Birmingham (not the one in England, ironically) screw up my bracket every time they get in because all the knight schools are so frickin’ weak…yeah, I’m looking at you Rutgers. I put the Buckeyes over them in the Sweet 16 through rationalizations like: Brutus has a 12-to-1 advantage; Newark, NJ is still chilly this time of year (dragons are reptiles, aren’t they?); and even though a buckeye nut is technically inedible, everybody prefers their nuts roasted, right?
Get it right next year, NCAA. Blacklist the bracket-killing Blazers!
Cleveland, OH-Those Roadrunners from San Antonio already entered unfamiliar territory a couple of days ago when they sprinted into Dayton to snack on some Hornets. Now Rowdy has to wander further into Buckeye territory and his reward…16 inedible, anthropomorphic nuts staring him right in the face (see photo above). You had a good run, Rowdy…pun intended.
Cleveland, OH-Looking for Gunston, that green Elmo knockoff that pranced all over our better judgement when George Mason made that Final Four run back in 2006? Yeah, well, ”The Patriot,” that Benjamin Martin-William Wallace hybrid pictured above, took care of that problem…you know…Mel Gibson-style. If he’s willing to put down one of his own, and he gets a one mascot advantage over Will D. Cat from ‘Nova? ”Freeeeeeeeeeeedooooooooooooom!”
Tampa, FL-Well, Clemson definitely gets the shorter commute, but by the time this dirty dozen hunting party of Mountaineers descends from West Virginia they’ll be itchin’ to collect some tiger pelts to go with those coon-skin hats. (I know a tiger pelt would clash with that tassled, mountain man get-up, but are you gonna tell him that?)
Tampa, FL-Everybody knows a tiger would kick the cat piss out of any other member of the feline family, and the wildcat is no exception. (*sniff, sniff* Anybody else smell that ammonia?) But, Kentucky is much closer to Tampa than Princeton, so that quartet of tigers is already going to be fatigued when they square off with a baker’s dozen-worth of wildcats. With better than a three-to-one advantage, those wily wildcats will prove too much for those majestic, old tigers.
Cleveland, OH-Everybody pictures musketeers as the Frenchy, Musketeers of the Guard, that would take any man in a sword fight and look good doing it. Xavier’s D’Artagnan is modeled after that stereotype. But, musketeers were more commonly regiments of soldiers outfitted with muskets. I know we should introduce these Francophiles to duck blinds and ten-gauge shotguns, but when a half dozen Golden Eagles from Marquette practically fly right into Xavier’s (Cincinnati, OH) backyard, they’ll know what to do with those muskets.
Cleveland, OH-This is the battle of the identity crises. Syracuse dropped the “men” from Orangemen back in 2004 because they wanted to distance themselves from a controversial Protestant group in Northern Ireland with the same name. Yeah, like anybody was going to mix them up with a school in central New York. What really happened is they were probably feeling some internal pressure from a gaggle of sexually repressed feminists that infest every college, and they caved the same way they did when they axed the Saltine Warrior back in ’78. Spineless, just like an orange. Sycamore Sam from Indiana State is supposed to be a “happy forest creature.” What?! After how many happy forest mushrooms? I’d like to eliminate both of these disgraceful mascots, but I guess you could beat the happy out of most forest creatures with a 14-count bag of citrus.
Charlotte, NC-Is it just me, or does Harry the Husky look like the love child of a bear and Martin Scorsese? Washington might be bringing superior numbers, but Georgia clearly holds the geographic advantage. What to do when confronted with such a stalemate? Consult YouTube, of course. Despite the size disadvantage, the bulldog lands a ton of body shots while making all sorts of noise to keep the judges attention. The husky did get in a couple of good jabs towards the end of the round, but the judges award the match to the bulldog in a tight decision.
Charlotte, NC-Does anybody like blackbirds? They’re ugly, noisy and are always picking the entrails out of road kill. Nice choice Long Island. Does anybody know what a Tar Heel is? It either refers to the traditional tar and turpentine industry in Carolina, or the reluctance of soldiers from North Carolina to retreat in the Civil War. How that evolves into a Ram with some tar on his mitts, only UNC could answer. Regardless, feathers will fly when this pair of blackbirds fly into Rameses’ territory.
Winner: Tar Heels
Yeah, I know the NCAA would like us to call this the first round, but c’mon. We all know it’s still a play-in no matter how many mediocre teams they let in (68…and counting).
On to the matchups:
Dayton, OH-As with all the play-in pairings, the Bulldogs from North Carolina-Asheville and the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock will face off mano y mano…make that mano y perro. The Bulldog should pull into town first, but that won’t be an advantage against the road-weary Trojan warrior looking for a meal and a bed. Something tells me he won’t be above eating dog…
Dayton, OH-It kills me when UAB gets in the tourney because there isn’t much out there that can beat a dragon, especially in a heads up fight. I mean, have you seen Reign of Fire? (If you haven’t, don’t) I was hoping for a cold snap to roll through Ohio to keep this reptile under wraps, but highs in the mid 50′s isn’t what the doctor ordered. Besides, now Blaze will have a Clemson Tiger pelt to help keep the core temp up.
Dayton, OH-Did Tim Burton design Alabama State’s mascot? Anyway, even though the Hornet gets the shorter commute, and Rowdy (the Roadrunner) will have to leave his traditional stomping grounds to get to Dayton, he still brings the advantage: The Roadrunner (Geococcyx) is the only natural predator of the spider-killing tarantula hawk wasp; hornets are part of the wasp family; Conclusion: That hornet better check his rear view while buzzing up I-75.
Dayton, OH-You’ve heard of the lion laying down with the lamb, but VCU‘s Rodney the Ram looks like a dog laid down with a lamb downstream from the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant. Regardless, Tommy Trojan has probably slain stranger beasts during his odyssey, so count on that nice, shiny sword getting a little stained.
Advanced Mascotology? It’s a thinking man’s guide to the mascot battle, not the strategy your receptionist used to take down the office bracket in ’07.
Instead of just deciding, this beats that, and ending up with the #15 Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks sawing through the Orange, Buckeyes and Jayhawks to destroy your East bracket, I’ve added a couple of factors to level the playing field:
- Location matters. Even though tournament sites are neutral, the higher seeds usually end up closer to home. Advantage will be considered based on distance traveled and climate changes.
- Flip the seeds. Reverse the seeds of the two opponents, and that’s how many mascots will face off. For example: In 2010, the #1 Duke Blue Devils faced the #16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions. A Golden Lion conjures heavenly images, but it would take divine intervention to fend of 16 Blue Devils.
Is Advanced Mascotology for you? Well, not if you’re the office hoop head, comparing back courts and low post games to find that upset minded mid-major. It’s also not for the girl in accounting, who claims to watch Sportscenter while asking, “Ummm, which bracket are the Lakers in?”
No, Advanced Mascotology is for the rest of us; the masses who just want to know “did I win?”; the casual fan who doesn’t start watching Dickie V until the weekend before Selection Sunday; the guy wouldn’t be embarrassed to answer the exclamation, “You actually picked Northern Iowa?!” with, “Yeah, because even one panther would kick the $&!# out of any number of Jayhawks…duh.”
Get ready Mascotologists, to earn an advanced degree…