Dear Doctor: Things seem pretty dire in the country right now: political protest, CTE concerns, amateurism debates, and a lack of institutional oversight regarding Title IX issues and assault cases, just to name a few. What is the most pressing issue in sports and in society at-large at the moment?
I’m glad you had the courage to ask this compelling and complicated question. This will be a long article today, because the topic is important, but the answer is obvious: Why are there so many overlapping, unoriginal, and non-specific team nicknames in FBS college sports?
Because people are unoriginal and lazy. And I’ve got a s̶u̶g̶g̶e̶s̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ solution. I will rename them, for the betterment of the nation. The biggest culprit is obviously the SEC. I’m not going to look this up, but I’m pretty sure every team is either the Tigers or the Bulldogs. That’s just ridiculous and will not stand.
Here’s the plan:
Tigers: Auburn already chants War Eagle, so they’re now the Auburn War Eagles. Missouri is named after a famed militia group that defended the city of Columbia and the University during the Civil War. But, they harbored William Quantrill, the known Confederate raider who burned down Lawrence, KS, so they’re now the Missouri Skeptics. LSU becomes the Bayou Bengals, as they already pretty much always have been – you don’t get two nicknames. That leaves Memphis and Clemson. Memphis will now be the Memphis Blues to honor the former Negro League team. And Clemson will be the Clemson Copycats, because Thomas Green Clemson wanted the school to be modeled after Mississippi State (that bastion of learning), and I’m petty. There was too much explaining of myself in that paragraph. I don’t have to do that. I have a PhD.
Bulldogs: Georgia, you’re now just the Georgia Dawgs. Mississippi State becomes the Mud Dogs. Fresno State, you have no excuse. You were founded in 1911 and had the chance to be creative: Fresno State Yorkies. Louisiana Tech Fightin’ Bradshaws. This is a good college tradition: you can have any original nickname by adding “Fightin’” to it.
Wildcats: Kentucky – you’re named for a road victory over Illinois, so you’re now the Road Warriors (TM). Arizona Silversmiths. Kansas State Bill Snyder Family. Lastly, Northwestern will now be the Lake Monsters.
Birds: No more Eagles. You can’t get more lazy and unoriginal. Who would root for a team called the Eagles? Boston College Ave Marias. Eastern Michigan University Emus – honestly, how was this already not the mascot? Georgia Southern Mermen. Southern Miss gets a pass because they followed another college trick: putting “Golden” in front of your nickname. Ball State will now be the Canners, Louisville Football Sluggers, and Stanford doesn’t get a pass on the technicality that Cardinal singular is a color or that the tree is the band’s mascot. You’re now the Stanford Redwoods. Bowling Green Falcons? Bowling Green Lawn Bowlers. And Air Force could keep Falcons, but it would be way more intimidating if they were the Air Force Hellcats. Temple gets to remain the Owls, but FAU are now the Porpoises. Rice are the Rice Steamers.
Other Cats: BYU Honeybees. Houston Horcruxes. Washington State Conspiracy Theorists. Ohio Bugeyes (just to make it even more confusing when the Buckeyes chant “O-H-I-O”. Texas State Fightin’ Armadillos. FIU Afterthoughts, Georgia State Peaches, and the Pitt Yellow Chairbacks.
Other Dogs: NC State and Nevada? You’re not fooling anybody by deleting or adding a space between “Wolf” and “Pack”. NC State, you’re going to be the Red Terrors again. Nevada? You’re the Sagebrushers again. UConn, your name is actually pretty clever, owing to the homophonic relationship with “Yukon”. You stay. NIU? You’re going back to the NIU Profs. And Washington, if Lord Byron’s poems were good enough for you to pick your team colors from, then you’ll have no problem being the Washington Byronic Heroes or the Washington Heroes.
People: Troy can stay the Trojans. It’s too on the nose. So USC becomes the Fighting Methodists again. WVU can be the Mountaineers, but only because Appalachian State should be known as the Giant-Slayers. Oklahoma State will now be the Fightin’ Forty-year-olds, and Wyoming will be the Cowpokes out of fairness and gender equality. Ole Miss chose the Black Bear over Admiral Ackbar, and had to live with that decision. Then they picked the Landsharks, so Ole Miss Landsharks it is. UNLV is rebelling from nothing, other than an understanding of history. They became a state DURING the American Civil War, yet chose a wolf wearing a Confederate uniform as their mascot: UNLV Poseurs. Spartans is a great name, but it’s not fair for one school to get to keep it and another not: SJSU will henceforth be the Olympians, and Michigan State will revert back to their short-lived nickname, the Michigan State Staters. That leaves us with the Aggies. Honestly, half of the teams in the FBS were the Aggies at some point. NMSU Wonder Dogs. Utah State Coyotes. Texas A&M Oil Barons.
Misc.: Baylor – while there are no other Bears on the list, they will be the Baylor Human Beings so that many of the players hopefully remember that other people are human beings. Boise State will be the Smurfs, and WMU will be the Boatrowers. Colorado Buffaloes is fine, but they will have to change to make room for the Buffalo Buffalo. So, Colorado you can either be the Silver Helmets again or revert to the Frontiersmen. But, s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶e̶a̶r̶c̶h̶ ̶t̶o̶l̶d̶ ̶m̶e̶ I already knew that rarely you are referred to as the Golden Buffaloes, so there’s your compromise. USF? You’re now the USF Real Americans. Lastly, while Nebraska Cornhuskers is completely original and acceptable, you will be going back to either the Bugeaters or the Mankilling Mastodons. In fact, it’s imperative that you are now the Nebraska Bugeating, Mankilling Mastodons. Or, the Nebraska BMs.
Crisis averted, and the United States saved.
Dr. [illegible signature], PhD
*Note: Ben Phillips is actually a pretty nice guy who values logical discussions and opinions, but appreciates sarcasm and satire. He holds a PhD in sports history/sports culture from Michigan State University. He earned an MA from BGSU in Popular Culture, and a BA in History from Penn State. He sang with Steve(s) in the Penn State Glee Club, works for the federal government (not using his PhD), and lives in Metro-Detroit with his wife (you might be sensing a theme: also a Penn State grad) and son (a future Penn State grad … unless he doesn’t get a full-ride from out-of-state, in which case: a future Penn State fan).