Joy and Lady Bear are the roaring mascots of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. A series of bears have served as Baylor's mascot, but the best known was Joe College, who came to Baylor in 1917 through the work of Bill Boyd, a student who bought the bear from a Texas zoo that went broke. He then approached Baylor's president and offered to take care of the bear in exchange for free tuition. The president accepted the deal and the tradition of live bears as mascots has continued since.
The long running mascot of Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., has been the agile Leopard. In 1984, the school's football team tried to introduce a live mascot to run on the cover of its media guide. A student-athlete was supposed to be featured alongside the sleek creature, but it was determined it was unsafe because every time anyone besides the trainer got close to the animal, she roared. Needless to say, this was the last time the idea of using a live leopard was entertained. Go Pards!
Shasta and Sasha are the mascots of the University of Houston athletics teams, the Houston Cougars. Up until 1990 a live cougar was used as the mascot. This switch may appear to be the safer option, but in a hit 2005 YouTube video the costumed Houston Cougar mascot is seen in a scuffle with the Oregon Duck mascot. Shasta claimed The Duck started it. You decide.
Uga, the University of Georgia mascot, is the only mascot to attend the Heisman Award ceremonies in 1982 and was named the number 1 mascot in the U.S. by Sports Illustrated in 1999. He also gets bonus points from fans for attacking an Auburn Football player during a game in 1996.
The University of North Alabama in Florence takes “Lion Pride” seriously. It has the only live lion mascots in the country living on campus. Boosters have financed a habitat for lion siblings Una and Leo, worth $1.3 million. In 1997, Leo II was selected as the nation's "Second Best Mascot" by Sports Illustrated.
Mike the Tiger, Louisiana State University’s mascot, parades around the field before games with the LSU cheerleaders perched on top of his cage-on-wheels. LSU tradition dictates that the Tigers will score a touchdown for every time Mike growls before the game. Apparently Mike is a feisty tiger who tends to roar at other mascots when they approach. Mike's home is three times the size of the house the university provides its chancellor, costing almost $3 million.
Albert E. Gator and Alberta Gator are the official mascots of the University of Florida. A live alligator, first appearing in 1957, was once the slithering mascot of the Gators on the field before the costumed version Albert became the mascot in 1970.
The University of Colorado's mascot is a big, 1,300-pound buffalo with horns and hooves named Ralphie. She leads the football team out on the field both at the start of the game and in the second half, intimidating the opposing teams as they watch the massive buffalo round the end zone and head directly toward their sideline. Her top speed is around 20-25 mph.
In 1899, at the Army-Navy Game, the Navy football team appeared with a mascot, a goat. In order to compete, Army fans had to find a mascot that represented their team fast! The Army mule was already legendary for its roughness and endurance, so the mule was the obvious choice. A quartermaster in Philadelphia stopped a passing ice truck, and the big white mule pulling it became the first Army mascot.
The Mighty Bevo is one of the most recognized college mascots, thanks to its longhorn steer and burnt orange coloring. Bevo the Great has even been called "the toughest-looking animal mascot in sports." The shape of the Longhorn's head and horns gives rise to the school's hand symbol and slogan, Hook 'em Horns.
The falcon was the first collegiate mascot to perform at sports events, free and untethered.
The University of Arkansas' live boar mascot tradition dates back to the 1960s, and several hogs have represented the school through the years. Tusk, a Russian boar, weighing 380 lbs., closely resembles a wild razorback hog. He lives on a local farm and leaves his home to attend all Arkansas home games. Watch out for those tusks!
Rameses the Ram, at the University of North Carolina, was derived during the 1922 season, when Tar Heels fullback, Jack Merritt was nicknamed "the battering ram" for his talent on the field. It seemed natural to have a mascot to symbolize the style of play of this player. His horns are painted Carolina Blue for each game.
Jack, Georgetown’s English Bulldog dates back to 1962 when a group of students lobbied for a new mascot at the Washington, D.C., university. Yes, their sports teams’ nickname is traditionally “the Hoyas,” but the students argued that Georgetown athletes were as “tenacious” as bulldogs. They were going to name the bulldog “Hoya,” but the stubborn fella seemed to answer only to the name “Jack.”
Roaring, soaring, barking, and clawing at a college near you!