The battle between college mascots is always raging.
Every fan has their own way of ranking them, and every ranking system inherently has some sort of bias. No one can pretend to be totally impartial in such a subjective ranking, so how can we come up with a fair list of the top 21 nicknames?
Win-loss records, of course.
That's right: Using the most comprehensive list I could find, I compiled a list of every mascot that represents more than one FBS college football team. If there's only one team with the nickname, then it's clearly not cool enough to make this list.
I have compiled the win-loss records of each mascot's teams (using this invaluable resource) and used them to rank the top 21 multi-school college football nicknames. Why 21? Because that's how many there are.
Some mascots had many more schools than others, but I've eliminated any of that bias by ranking based on win percentage.
Also, in grouping nicknames I was fairly lenient. In some cases there were slight spelling or coloration differences, but I let those slide.
Without further ado, here's the countdown.
21. Rebels: .208 (5-19)
Ole Miss Rebels: 3-9
UNLV Rebels: 2-10
Apparently the teams from Mississippi and UNLV are rebelling against winning records.
20. Aggies: .342 (13-25)
New Mexico State Aggies: 4-9
Texas A&M Aggies: 7-6
Utah State Aggies: 2-10
I don't think I'd necessarily recognize an Aggie if I saw one in real life, but apparently one of their traits is being mediocre at football.
19. Huskies: .396 (15-23)
Connecticut Huskies: 9-4
Northern Illinois Huskies: 2-10
Washington Huskies: 4-9
While UConn has been stepping their game up lately, Northern Illinois and Washington have devolved enough that the collective Huskies are still bottom-feeders.
18. Bears: .400 (10-15)
Baylor Bears: 3-9
California Golden Bears: 7-6
It's too bad that Cal will forever be tied to dead-weight Baylor—no matter how good the gilded subspecies gets, the Texas variety will bring down the whole family.
17. Owls: .405 (15-22)
Rice Owls: 3-9
Florida Atlantic Owls: 8-5
Temple Owls: 4-8
A year or two ago, these teams were about as scary as their namesakes. Now that FAU has turned around and Temple is on their way up, the Owls are looking a little wiser.
16. Wolfpack: .440 (11-14)
Nevada Wolf Pack: 6-7
NC State Wolfpack: 5-7
With matching seven-loss seasons, apparently these Wolves were staying packed together in '08.
14. (tie) Spartans: .480 (12-13)
San Jose State Spartans: 5-7
Michigan State Spartans: 7-6
Unlike in ancient Mediterranea, the Spartans aren't exactly terrifying warriors on the gridiron.
14. (tie) Cowboys .480 (12-13)
Oklahoma State Cowboys: 7-6
Wyoming Cowboys: 5-7
Maybe these schools fare better at rodeo competitions.
13. Wildcats: .490 (24-25)
Arizona Wildcats: 5-7
Kansas State Wildcats: 5-7
Kentucky Wildcats: 8-5
Northwestern Wildcats: 6-6
The first of our four-team mascots, Wildcats seem destined for mediocrity. They have the closest record to even on wins and losses of the lot, and none of them seem likely to break that mold in football anytime soon. Basketball, however, is a different story.
12. Cardinals: .520 (13-12)
Ball State Cardinals: 7-6
Louisville Cardinals: 6-6
Not a very scary nickname, but at least the birds from Louisville have teeth.
11. Knights: .538 (21-18)
Army Black Knights: 3-9
Central Florida Knights: 10-4
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 8-5
Apparently just plain Knights aren't exciting enough, so you've got to add a color in there. These teams all seem to be on their way up, so the Knights may be getting more courageous in the next few seasons.
9. (tie) Raiders: .560 (14-11)
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders: 5-7
Texas Tech Red Raiders: 9-4
Apparently red is the color you want if you're a raider. Black and silver apparently aren't that great either.
9. (tie) Bulls: .560 (14-11)
Buffalo Bulls: 5-7
South Florida Bulls: 9-4
Another nickname seemingly on the rise. Texas isn't the only school yelling "Hook 'Em" anymore.
8. Eagles: .564 (22-17)
Eastern Michigan Eagles: 4-8
Boston College Eagles: 11-3
Southern Miss Golden Eagles: 7-6
Boston College is soaring, but Eagles aren't even the best bird mascot.
7. Hurricane(s): .577 (15-11)
Miami (FL) Hurricanes: 5-7
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: 10-4
While one team is plural and the other is singular (and Golden—apparently anything can be golden and become a nickname), they're still too alike to leave apart. I don't imagine they'll be invited to play each other in the Sugar Bowl anytime soon.
6. Broncos: .600 (15-10)
Boise State Broncos: 10-3
Western Michigan Broncos: 5-7
Apparently these horses aren't ready to be tamed by the poor Cowboys up above at No. 13.
5. Bulldogs: .647 (33-18)
Fresno State Bulldogs: 9-4
Georgia Bulldogs: 11-2
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs: 5-7
Mississippi State Bulldogs: 8-5
Another four-team nickname, the Bulldogs had a pretty good season altogether last year. The only Bulldogs with a losing record were the closest team to beating Hawaii—until Georgia blasted them (incidentally, both games were in Louisiana).
4. Falcons: .654 (17-9)
Air Force Falcons: 9-4
Bowling Green Falcons: 8-5
The Falcons are the champions of the feathered division of mascots. Apparently all it takes to make the top three nicknames is to not have a particularly terrible team.
3. Cougars: .667 (24-12)
BYU Cougars: 11-2
Houston Cougars: 8-5
Washington State Cougars: 5-7
Cougars are often a forgotten mascot (thanks to Lew for pointing out my oversight of the Cougs in the original article), but they come in surprisingly high in the list. Alas, they're still only second in the Feline division.
2. Tigers: .731 (49-18)
Auburn Tigers: 9-4
Clemson Tigers: 9-4
LSU Tigers: 12-2
Memphis Tigers: 7-6
Missouri Tigers: 12-2
The Tigers, although not the top mascot percentage-wise, blew away the competition in terms of total wins. Not surprising, since they also had more teams than any other nickname.
1. Trojans: .760 (19-6)
Southern California Trojans: 11-2
Troy Trojans: 8-4
With the run of success that USC has had this decade, it shouldn't be surprising to find them atop yet another poll. Though not the case in ancient Mediterranea, the men of Troy are victorious.
There you have it folks. Interestingly, the Trojans and Tigers are atop the list, with the Bulldogs also in the top five. Apparently those mascots are giving their teams some pretty good mojo.
It's particularly impressive that all five Tigers teams had winning records. They look to continue their run in 2008, with four teams already in the AP preseason top 10. They could very well take the top spot by the end of the coming football season.
Remember: Just like all aspects of college football, nickname superiority is cyclical—the ones who are on top right now might not be there next year.
If you're planning on starting your own football team, consider this list when choosing your nickname. Some are clearly more proven winners than others.