Nick is voyaging back to the Midwest this week; so here is a Carroll’s Corner classic that ran in September of 2019.
Last week, Washington State’s head coach Mike Leach was asked who would win a Pac-12 mascot battle royale, and he went into great detail on the strengths and weaknesses of each mascot and why they might win or lose in the massive hypothetical brawl.
Mike Leach’s elaborate and thoughtful answer inspired me to break down who would win a Big 12 mascot battle, and I created 4 categories for the 10 schools: Favorites, Dark Horses, Long Shots and No Shots
1) Texas Tech Red Raiders: The Red Raiders are the odds on favorite to win the Big 12 Battle Royale by a slight margin over the Cowboys and the Mountaineers. The Red Raider lives and dies by the gun, as he totes 2 pistols while on horseback. The Masked Rider is the primary mascot of Texas Tech University. It is the oldest of the university’s mascots still in existence today. Originally called “Ghost Rider,” it became the official mascot with the 1954 Gator Bowl. The Masked Rider has led the team onto the field at nearly every football game since. It is the nation’s 1st school mascot to feature a live horse at a football game. The Masked Rider wears black and his identity protected, both providing strategic advantages over the Cowboys.
2) Oklahoma State Cowboys: If the Red Raiders are the favorite, then the clone and younger brother is a close 2nd. It was not until 1958 that “Pistol Pete” was adopted as the school’s mascot. The familiar caricature of “Pistol Pete” features a gun that is essential to land in the favorites category. The Oklahoma State Cowboys copied the Masked Rider in 1984 when Eddy Finley, a Texas Tech alumnus decided to have the Cowboy mount up on horseback. The Cowboy is weather-beaten and a little bit more ragged than the slick, hard-to-see Red Rider, and that could be the difference in the Red Rider coming out on top.
3) West Virginia Mountaineers: Once again, a gun is mandatory to land in the favorites. The Mountaineer is a rough and rugged character able to traverse any terrain. A master with the musket, having a gun puts the Morgantown man amongst the favorites. According to the Daily Athenaeum the Mountaineer mascot started as early as 1927. The name is derived from “Mountain State,” meaning West Virginia. When compared to the top 2 favorites, the coon skinned cap fellow is missing a crucial sidekick: a horse. The Cowboy and Red Rider get the nod over the Mountaineer in the Big 12 Battle Royale, but the Appalachian outlaw might scale to the top depending on location. If the venue for the Royale is on mountainous rocky terrain, the horse becomes irrelevant, as the ability to travel swiftly has been negated. If this match takes place anywhere in Appalachia, toss your greenbacks on the Mountaineer to take home the Big 12 Mascot Battle Royale Championship.
4) Baylor Bears: In 1917, the 107th Engineers, a U.S. Army troop stationed in Waco, gave Baylor its 1st live bear. The 107th Engineers had found the bear while traveling by train to Waco. After the troop left, Baylor University began caring for the animal. Baylor’s mascot is the American black bear. The university has 2 live bears on campus named Joy and Lady, each bearing the title of Judge in honor of the 1st live mascot. The school’s costumed mascot is named Bruiser. Anytime a black bear is in the conversation of a brawl, you have to like their chances of coming away with victory. The only thing to slow down the Bear is a gun or a trap, and unfortunately for Lady Bear, all 3 of the favorites have ammunition and guns at their disposal.
5) Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooner strategy is simple, cheat to win (I’m referring to mascots, not the football team). Simply put, sooners were settlers who cheated and staked out claims of land before the official start time. So perhaps the Sooners would use a similar strategy and take out a few of the favorites quietly before the Royale even started. Sooners are smart enough to understand the situation from an overhead view and have plenty of weapons available in their schooner, but it is unlikely they have enough guts to endure the professional gunslingers that populate the favorites.
6) Kansas State Wildcats: The 1st costumed Willie mascot appeared in 1947, however, his appearance has changed greatly and now his costume is heavily influenced by the team’s Powercat logo, created by legendary football coach Bill Snyder. Perhaps the wildcats would be higher on the list if their history had shown a keen knack to take down top-end talent, however, they have an embarrassing blemish on the record from the past. In the early 20th century, Kansas State had a real bobcat named Touchdown to serve as team mascot at football games. Unfortunately, Touchdown was injured in Idaho by an encounter with a porcupine.
7) Texas Longhorns: It is readily apparent the Longhorns have 1 major weapon, and certainly a charging bull could be deadly to any oxygen-breathing opponent. The bull has strong offensive game but defensively, he is exposed. As a glorified slab of steak, BEVO won’t last long in the ring with any mascot toting a gun, and plus their is a tasty reward for hunting down the Longhorn, and that’s why it is likely that BEVO goes Horns Down in the Battle Royale. Bevo: it’s what’s for dinner.
8) Kansas Jayhawks: In the traditions promoted by KU, the jayhawk is said to be a combination of 2 birds, the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob other nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. The link between the term “Jayhawkers” and any specific kind of mythical bird, if it ever existed, had been lost or at least obscured by the time KU’s bird mascot was invented in 1912. Jayhawkers were groups of men willing to fight, kill and rob for a variety of motives that included defense against “Border Ruffians.” Jayhawks loved to seek revenge, and plunder for personal profit. Therefore the make believe Jayhawk bird embodies the nasty and vigorous fighting spirit of Kansas natives, however, when a bird comes to a gun fight with only a beak, it’s bye bye birdie.
9) Iowa State Cyclones: Although the nickname suggests weather phenomenon, Iowa State chose to roll with a Cardinal as their go to mascot, therefore, the swirling wind argument is null and void. Cardinals are friendly and good at baseball, but lack the ability to attack larger predators. Defensively the ability to fly makes them hard to hit and their irritable attitude can make them a pesky opponent but its hard to see the Cardinal out-dueling any of the threats listed above including the Jayhawk.
10) TCU Horned Frogs: The Horned Frog is actually a fraud, because in fact he is not a frog at all. The Horned Frog is technically a lizard that uses camouflage as protection from predators. Offensively the horned lizard has the ability to puff up and appear very fat, which doesn’t frighten any man older than 30. The only offensive weapon the Horned Frog brings to the table is the ability to squirt a stream of blood from the corners of the eyes and sometimes from its mouth for a distance up to 5 feet. Not exactly a bullet. This novel behavior is generally observed to be very effective in defense; however, it appears to have no effect against predatory birds.o