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Iconic College Football Mascots

College football is big on tradition and passion, and few things evoke as much fanfare and pride as the mascots do. Mascots are the beloved symbols of school spirit, who can not only entertain the crowds but also show the heart and spirit of their school. From costumed characters filled with personality to live animals, all mascots have become icons in their own right. Today we are only going to cover a few of the unforgettable figures that bring unparalleled energy to the gridiron and rally the students and alumni alike.

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  1. Ralphie - University of Colorado Boulder (CU)

Ralphie, the mascot for the University of Colorado Boulder, is a live buffalo that gets to lead the football team onto the field in an exhilarating tradition that happens each home game. This tradition began in 1934 when the school newspaper chose to nickname the university students “Buffaloes”. A few weeks later a couple of students paid a rancher about $25 to rent a bison and a cowboy to help handle her. The calf had to be handled by not only the ranch hand but also the four students. In her debut game, they won 7-0. 

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2. Bevo - University of Texas (UT)

Bevo is another live mascot, he is a Longhorn steer. His history dates back to 1916. Bevo was introduced at halftime during a game between UT and Texas A&M. The origin of his name is still up for debate. Some say it is a play on words, as “Beevve” is slang for a cow or steer that is destined to be eaten, but it is also plural for beef. Others say in 1917 some pranksters from Texas A&M branded the first mascot with “13-0”, which was the score of a game won by the Aggies. And to save face UT students changed the 13 to a B, the dash to an E, and by adding a V between the dash and 0. 

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3. Mike - Louisiana State University (LSU)

Mike is a live tiger that lives in a habitat near Tiger Stadium. LSU got the first Mike on October 21, 1936. His original name was Sheik, but he was renamed in honor of Mike Chambers, the school’s athletic trainer at the time. Chambers was a big part in getting him on campus. Before home games, Mike has the option to go into the trailer to attend the games, and if he doesn’t want to go he doesn’t have to. He used to go to games quite frequently but in recent years he has not attended many games, so not many have gotten the chance to see him there. During the games he does attend, Mike lounges in the trailer and helps cheer the team on from the sidelines. 

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4. Smokey - University of Tennesse

Smokey is a Bluetick Coonhound who gets the honor of leading the team onto the field during home games. The reason for the specific breed of dog is because the Bluetick Coonhound is the official dog breed of Tennessee. Smokey has been the mascot since 1953. The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity is responsible for handling Smokey at all of his appearances. Each year the seniors get to design his iconic vest. Smokey joined the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2008.

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5. Uga - University of Georgia 

Uga is the English Bulldog that represents the University of Georgia. Uga is one of the most recognizable live mascots in all of college sports and he even gets his own air-conditioned doghouse. The first Uga was introduced back in 1956 and each Uga has always been owned by the Sonny Seiler family of Savannah, Georgia. As of 2024, there have been 11 Ugas since their debut in 1956. 

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6. Reveille - Texas A&M

Reveille is an American Rough Coat Collie, though the first was a mixed-breed dog that the cadets found in 1931. She is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets and is the only bearer of five silver diamonds. Reveille III was the first full-blooded Rough Collie to serve as the mascot, and every Reveille since has been of that breed. Reveille X, the current mascot, is more commonly known as Miss Rev. Mascot Company E-2 handles her, and the mascot corporal, with a sophomore from E-2, being responsible for Reveille’s care. Because of her high rank, she gets special privileges. If she happens to fall asleep on a cadet’s bed, that cadet must find another place to sleep. Miss Rev lives with the corporal on the quad, goes to class, and even spends holidays with them. 

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7. Tusk - University of Arkansas

Tusk is the live Russian boar that represents the Razorbacks. This specific breed was chosen because of how closely it resembles the wild hogs known as razorbacks native to Arkansas. The first Tusk was selected in 1997. All of the Tusks thus far have been male and from the same lineage.

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8. Big Al - University of Alabama

Big Al is the playful elephant mascot that represents the Crimson Tide. Big Al dates back to the 1930s and is rooted in the fans calling the players elephants because they were so much larger than their opponents. Many elephant costumes would be worn to games in the 1960s, however, the school didn’t officially recognize the elephant as a mascot until 1979. 

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9. The Oregon Duck - University of Oregon

The Oregon Duck is based on the iconic Donald Duck. Though technically this wasn’t the original mascot for Oregon. Originally they had a live duck named Puddles. Puddles and his later offspring were the mascots until the early 1940s. The Oregon Duck came to be in 1947. 

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10. Brutus Buckeye - Ohio State University

Brutus is the nut-headed mascot for Ohio State and he became the mascot on November 21, 1965. Brutus was created by two students, Ray Bourhis and Sally Huber. The first version of the mascot was made of paper mache but only made a few appearances before it was changed to a fiberglass shell. His name was decided by a campus-wide “Name the Buckeye” contest. In 2007 Brutus was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame.

In the big world of college football, mascots are way more than just symbols. They're the heart and soul of school pride and spirit. Each mascot has its own unique story and they all unite alumni, students, and fans alike and make gamedays unforgettable.

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