10 Best College Nicknames of All Time

Christian Petersen-Getty Images

Christian Petersen-Getty Images

College nicknames are fun. They are filled with history and if you ask 10 people how the nickname came about, you are more than likely to get several different answers.

Nicknames generally take on the representation of the community and climate of where the school is located. If it was founded in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, the chances that the nickname is off-color or downright offensive are pretty high.

Because of this, there has been a culture change in some schools, most notably at St. John’s University in New York and Marquette in Wisconsin who changed their Redmen and Warrior monikers.

College nicknames have long been a passion of mine. My friends and I would gather around many beers and try to stump each other with the most off-the-wall names. It is this intricate knowledge that I bring to you, without further ado—The 10 Best College Nicknames of All Time.

Honorable Mention

ucscThe list was long and unwieldy, so here are the nicknames that didn’t quite make the cut, but deserve to be mentioned.

  • University of Alaska at Fairbanks Nanooks
  • University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
  • University of California Irvine Anteaters
  • Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys
  • Stetson University Mad Hatters
  • Saint Louis University Billikens
  • Ogelthorpe University Stormy Petrels
  • North Carolina School of Arts Fighting Pickles
  • Scottsdale Community College Artichokes

Nicknames That Need a Closer Look

There are some pretty “shocking” college nicknames out there and here is a list of them that need to be revisited in the near future.

Wichita St. Shockers—Maybe things are a little slower in Kansas

Ohio Wesleyan Battlin’ Bishops—Homo-Erotica at it’s finest

Rhode Island School of Design—Co-ed hockey team is called the Nads, the fencing team is the Pricks and the sailing club is the Seamen.

The best of the bunch is also the largest—The Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It’s has the power of a thousand golden showers.

Now on to the good ones.

10: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

chaunceyCoastal Carolina University was founded in 1954 in Conway, South Carolina as part of the University of South Carolina system. In the mid-’60s, the University changed from the Trojans to be more in line with the mascot of USC, the Gamecock. They finally decided on the witty rooster from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and named him Chauncey.

When the University gained independence, many pushed again for a different nickname, but Chauncey the Chanticleer is here to stay.

9: Iona College Gaels

Iona College was founded in 1940 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in the suburb of New Rochelle, New York, 20 miles north of Manhattan.

Killian the Geal represents anybody of Irish-Gaelic ancestry as Iona was named after the island monastery in St. Colomba located off the west coast of Scotland.

It was originally founded to educate the sons of New York’s working class and the mascot along with the motto Certa Bonum Certamen (fight the good fight) personify strength

8: The Evergreen State College Geoducks

geoduckWhen I first heard of this mascot, I was flabbergasted, then I was amazed. The Geoducks (pronounced gooey ducks) are not gooey, nor are they ducks. They are a giant clam or sometimes called mud ducks or king clams.

The amazing thing about the mascot, other than it’s overtly phallic appearance is that the college’s mottoOmnia Extares means “let it all hang out” when translated from Latin.

While many think that it is merely a mascot based on the locality of the clam, I tend to believe it leans more to a freaking cool statement.

7: Vermont Catamounts

Catamount, just saying it makes you sound cool. Although it is basically the same thing as a panther, mountain lion or cougar, catamounts are monumentally better.

Located in Burlington, Vermont, the university named the mascot after the large cat that used to roam the green mountains of the state. It is rumored that the last catamount was killed in Vermont in 1881 and is on display at the Vermont History Museum.

What I am trying to figure out is if it’s the same as a panther, mountain lion or cougar, why are there so many different names and why are catamounts extinct and not the others…hmm.

6: Manhattan College Jaspers

jaspersFirst off, Manhattan College isn’t in Manhattan, it is in the Bronx. It was originally founded in lower Manhattan and moved to it’s current location due to necessary expansion.

The college is named the Jaspers after one of the most prolific figures during the late 19th century, Brother Jasper of Mary. Now, naming a school’s athletic teams after a Brother is not in itself reason for it to make the list, but the fact that Brother Jasper brought one of the most time-honored traditions to sports is.

The Official Site of the Manhattan College Jaspers tells this story about it’s namesake:

During one particularly warm and humid day when Manhattan College was playing a semi-pro baseball team called the Metropolitans, Brother Jasper noticed the Manhattan students were becoming restless and edgy as Manhattan came to bat in the seventh inning of a close game. To relieve the tension, Brother Jasper called time-out and told the students to stand up and stretch for a few minutes until the game resumed.

Since the College annually played the New York Giants in the late 1880’s and into the 1890’s at the old Polo Grounds, the Manhattan College practice of the “seventh inning stretch” spread into the major leagues, where it has now become a time-honored custom practiced by millions of fans annually.

That’s enough to make the list.

5: Chaminade Silverswords

The Mighty Chaminade, forever entrenched in the lore of men’s college basketball by hosting the EA Sports Maui Invitational and beating top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in one of the greatest upsets of all time.

The silversword is actually named after a plant that is indigenous to the area that is prized for its beauty and ability to withstand harsh conditions, much like that basketball game in 1982.

The logo also depicts the handle of the sword, which could be unsheathed at a moment’s notice.

4: Furman University Paladins

furmanOur second school from the beautiful state of South Carolina. One of the oldest institutions in the state, Furman is probably best known for it’s F.U. hats that were worn by plenty o’ d-bags that had no idea where the college was or that it even was a college.

The word paladin is derived from European emperor Charlemagne in the works entitled The Matter of France. Paladins or the Twelve Peers represent Christian martial valor or any type of chivalrous hero. The main corollary is King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table.

For those that know what being a man is truly about, a chivalrous Knight of the Round Table is something that we should all aspire to be.

3: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

I love this nickname. Love, love, love it! What is meaner than a down-home southern boy all hopped up on hurricanes looking for a good bowl of gumbo? Not much, and I am speaking from experience.

I have spent my fair share of time in the “Big Easy” of New Orleans and in Louisiana in general and can verify the truth of Ragin’ Cajuns in the southern part of the state.

The school was originally called the University of Southwestern Louisiana and the sports teams were nicknamed the Bulldogs—boring. It wasn’t until 1963 when the football coach dubbed his football team the Ragin’ Cajuns and by 1974, the entire University embraced the nickname, and it has been one of the coolest, most original name to this day.

The school changed it’s name to University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1999 and the teams play at the Cajundome, Cajun Field and Cajun Courts.

Talk about taking a theme and running with it.

2: Arizona State University Sun Devils

It is hot in the metro Phoenix, Arizona area and the city of Tempe, a suburb southwest of Phoenix is hot, not only temperature-wise but also by the bevy of beautiful women that matriculate at the desert oasis.

In the fall of 1946, the student body voted to remove the current boring mascot the bulldog to better represent the heat of the city and devilish population. It was approved by a landslide even though having a devil as a mascot in the late ’40s was heavily frowned upon by the parents and community.

The students had their say and two years later Sparky was born.

Arizona State alumnus and current Walt Disney illustrator Bert Anthony drew up the mascot to have similar facial features as his former boss, Walt Disney. Check out a picture of him online, it is nearly a perfect caricature.

In recent years, the cartoonish character of “Sparky” has all but disappeared from the football helmets being replaced by his pitchfork. Sparky is still the mascot and the Sun Devils will always be one of the best mascots in college football.

1: Hofstra Pride

prideFor anybody that has ever played organized sports, the one thing that bonds more than anything else is pride. Pride in yourself, pride in your team and pride in your school. If you have none of these, you are just playing around.

Evidently, the regents at Hofstra were a step ahead of Tulsa on re-examining its nickname when they deep-sixed the Flying Dutchmen moniker as it has led to new and unappealing connotations.

I think they hit the nail on the head when they changed the name in 2004 for its duplicitous use of lions as their mascot. Although it may not be as mean as a Devil, as rowdy as a Cajun or as chivalrous as a Paladin, the Pride of Hofstra is truly the embodiment of college athletics.

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