Name: Sparty the Spartan
First Appearance: Unknown - USC Upstate was founded in 1967
Upstate's Sparty the Spartan is douchebaggery incarnate. Just try looking at this guy without getting fired up. First off, I know that at some point in history Spartans fought without any body armor (see 300), but I'm pretty sure none of them fought in crop top armor ("stab his tummy!") - just seems impractical. Second, the name Sparty the Spartan is already used by a much more superior mascot (that of Michigan State). MSU's Sparty name dates back to 1925 when it was given to a statue of a Spartan that later inspired the costumed mascot. USC Upstate was founded in 1967. Third, in 2014, Upstate included these stipulations when holding tryouts for their mascot on their website: "Students interested in being Sparty must have a 2.0 grade point average. Sparty is paid $25 per game." Now that's how you set a high bar.
Name: Matty the Matador
First Appearance: Unknown - CSUN has been known as the Matadors since 1958
On a stormy October night, you decide to turn in early, weary from a long day at the office. You finish brushing your teeth and changing into your pajamas, shut off your bedroom light and hop into bed. The rhythm of the pouring rain outside is soothing and soon you start to feel yourself drifting off to sleep. Then, all of a sudden, a crash of lightning illuminates the entire room revealing a once vacant rocking chair now occupied by Matty the Matador, staring at you wide-eyed, cleft-chinned and all, with a slight grin on his face. You wet the bed and develop a severe case of anxiety based insomnia. Such is the haunting power of CSUN's mascot.
Name: Rowdy the Redhawk
First Appearance: 2005
It's not that I hate Rowdy the Redhawk, in fact he seems like a lovable bird. It's just I can't look at this mascot without laughing, which doesn't bode well for Rowdy's ability to a). intimidate the other team, or b). pump up the crowd. Rowdy is in constant laugh mode with his open beak and appears as though he's wearing some sort of red diaper. Add in a practice jersey, skin-tight yellow panty-hose, and clown shoes and you have the makings of a poorly constructed mascot. To top it all off, Rowdy has about six "feathers" on his body - what hawk is flying with six feathers you guys?
Name: Butch T. Cougar
First Appearance: 1927
Butch T. Cougar won the 2006 Capital One Mascot challenge. This accomplishment is not a testament to Butch's appearance, rather a function of students voting online. Fan vote contests are always flawed as evidenced by Yao Ming being voted to start the 2011 All-Star game after appearing in five contests that year, or the entire Kansas City Royals lineup leading the 2015 MLB All-Star vote. Like Rowdy (#8 on this list), Butch doesn't seem like a bad cat, he just isn't a good looking mascot. The whole cougar look is thrown together in an incredibly unintimidating fashion and features just two bottom fangs, large inward facing ears, and eyes sewn on the top of the head. It may seem superficial - but hey - this is a superficial contest.
Name: Frankie the Friar
First Appearance: 1983
Frankie may be one of the more intense mascots around. Frankie's "intense", however, isn't a good "intense". Frankie's "intense" is more akin to an overzealous Greg "It's just a game Focker" Focker pool volleyball spike than a term of endearment. Years of serving the parish have wreaked havoc on Frankie (and his hair), and the guy seems to be just hanging on by a thread (though he's surprisingly way less creepy than the original Frankie). One more sandwich throw to the head and Frankie's turning this bus around.
First Appearance: 2003
Obviously having a Native American affiliated moniker as your school's nickname poses problems in the mascot department. It does, however, leave room for creativity - teams in these situations can literally choose anything to represent their sports teams, a wolf, a horse, hell even a porcupine. The possibilities are endless! So what did the creative minds at CMU decide to craft up as their basketball team's emblem? That's right! They made a guy with a basketball for a head. I like to think this idea was thought up by Tyler, the Dean's 5-year old son, while sipping on a fruit punch Capri-Sun, laughing at the funny doggie across the street. Instead of immediately disposing of Tyler's mascot idea, school officials have kept the generic sprite as their sports representative and have even kept his penultimate generic mascot name: Rowdie.
Name: The Nittany Lion
First Appearance: 1904
Penn State's Nittany Lion is over 110 years old, making him one of the nation's oldest mascots. Unfortunately, Nittany looks every bit his age. Penn State needs to consider an update for this ole Lion - he's a relic in a modern time, a landline in a cell phone's world. The only endearing thing about this mascot is his cool scarf, otherwise the Lion looks like a guy about to rob a bank using a cat hood he picked up at the local Halloween shop to hide his identity. More nitpicky - this lion has hands. Lions ain't got no hands! They have paws - powerful, majestic paws. You don't bring a knife to a gun fight, and you don't put hands on a cat mascot.
Name: Oski the Bear
First Appearance: 1941
There's a certain uneasiness about California's bear. There's a sense that Oski, as soon as you turn your head, will murder you. It's a combination of the way the bear likes to stalk (see pic above), his receding hairline, and Arkham-esque smile. The bear is reminiscent of Lenny from "Of Mice and Men", and all of us are the rabbits, slowly being crushed under the weight of Lenny's hands. It's dark imagery. Look - I can't prove that Oski is a deranged serial killer bear, it's just a hunch. He's after us. I can feel it.
Name: Willie the Wildcat
First Appearance: 1947
Words cannot accurately describe how disappointing this mascot is. K-State's "Willie the Wildcat" is a person with a wildcat head. He's a person with a wildcat head! It boggles the mind who green lighted this mascot prancing out in public. What's the point in even naming the thing? Let's just name him (insert current student wearing the cat head). Today our mascot is Gene! Three possibilities of how this atrocity happened: 1. the university is broke and cannot afford the remaining necessary parts of a wildcat costume (body, paws, tail, etc.), 2. Willie's head is made of some sort of element rarer and more valuable than diamonds, sapphires, and unobtanium combined, 3. a cunning head of the university made a bet with his underlings 60 years ago that went something like this,
"Hey gang gather 'round. I bet you $1,000 we can put a cat head on a random student and pass him off as our school's mascot and everyone will accept him as the school's spirit incarnate."
"But sir", said Doug, the intelligent underling, "Won't people notice it's not a cat, just a guy with a cat head on his shoulders?" "That's the beauty of the plan Doug. They'll all know it's just a kid with a cat head on his shoulders - and they still won't say anything."
(Doug snickers) "Not a chance sir. You're on."