College football and the NFL are essentially the same game, but significant differences exist between the two. Guysgirl recently covered the major rules differences and traditions between the two sports, but rules aren’t the only thing that sets the two football variants apart. Pageantry, mascots, gameday, and fandom are vastly different, and if you venture into a college stadium looking for an NFL experience, or vice versa, you’re going to be in for a surprise if you’re not prepared.
Simply put, the mascots in college football put NFL mascots to shame. NFL mascots are just people in suits, generally to entertain kids and represent the team at functions.
The Denver Broncos have a live horse named Thunder that is ridden around the field after scores, but live-animal mascots are the exception rather than the rule.
For the most part, NFL fans are generally ambivalent towards their mascots.
College fans, on the other hand, adore their mascots.
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Colorado Buffaloes fans go nuts when Ralphie stampedes down the field before the start of each half. Bevo is a Texas icon. Dogs are especially beloved; Georgia’s Uga (bulldog), Tennessee’s Smokey (bluetick coonhound), Texas A&M’s Reveille (collie), and Washington’s Dubs (Alaskan Malamute) are just a few of the more well-known examples.
Aggie fans even constructed a special scoreboard outside Kyle Field so that deceased mascots could still follow the game since the view of the in-stadium scoreboard was blocked by a renovation.
As you may have gathered, many schools have live animal mascots. LSU has an actual tiger while Baylor keeps two black bears.
Colorado State has Cam the Ram, and the Air Force Academy has a trained Falcon that performs during games.
Speaking of eagles, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Auburn’s War Eagle. At USC games, a man in Trojan garbs rides a white horse onto the field.
The soldier isn’t the school’s official mascot, however. That distinction belongs to the horse, Traveler.
Not to be outdone by their animal brethren, costumed mascots are also popular. The Stanford Tree is probably the oddest mascot in the history of sports with Western Kentucky’s Big Red a close second.
If you want to know just how passionate college fans are about their mascots, just look at the University of North Dakota. The state has been embroiled in a dispute for years over the school’s Fighting Sioux nickname after the NCAA banned teams with names offensive to Native Americans from hosting postseason tournaments or using the name and logo in postseason play.
The state legislature even passed a law prohibiting the school from changing its name.
These are just a few of the many college football mascots. Do you have a favorite? Let us know which one and why in the comments….