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Top 10 Weird yet Cool College Nicknames/Mascots

Updated on April 1, 2015

10. "Fighting Camels" of Campbell College

Anyone that attends Campbell and/or plays a sport there should be extremely proud and motivated to give everything they have simply because of being known as the Fighting Camels. The name is absolutely incredible and whoever thought of it is a genius. I'm now regretting that I didn't apply to Campbell.

It turns out the college was known as the Hornets until the smart move to Camels in late 1933 or early 1934. It's not clear why the move was made. In the early 1900’s a fire devastated much of the campus that left president and founder Dr. James Archibald Campbell in a tough position. A man by the name of Z.T. Kivett visited Dr. Campbell and motivated him to get going by saying “You’re a camel, get a hump on you.” This is believed to be the nickname turning point. For all the Fighting Camels of Campbell College out there, you are extremely lucky and are at a great institution that was paved for by the great Dr. Campbell.

9. "Mastadons" of Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne

Before we get to the nickname, it seems that IPFW has bit of an identity crisis going on. First it seems like the Hoosiers are being referred to, then the Boilermakers, then I'm being told they both coexist at Fort Wayne. Despite the confusion, the prehistoric creature mascot makes up for it all.

In 1970 there was a vote that included the Warhawks, Frontiersman, Hobbits and of course the Elfs. These were all disregarded and thrown out when student body president Steve Pettyjohn wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper. In the letter he told the editor, "let's have the courage to be different." And for that Steve Pettyjohn we thank you. Indiana Congressman Mark Souder was also lobbied by the Geology Club to select the Mastodon. IPFW now has great nickname that the school can be proud of.

8. "Purple Cows" of Williams College

Williams College mascot has the potential to be number one on this list but there are too many other great names unfortunately. The academic Purple Cows that attend the exclusive college are known for being very intelligent with high standards and usage of words such as "bovines". There is no known history or bloodlines that link back to a time where the Purple Cow got its start. Rumors are that cows starred in the old school prints of Williams' campus. In the early 1900s, the Purple Cow magazine was published. Frank G. Burgess was given credit for his jingle that graced the cover of the debut issue. It should also be noted that the Purple Cow that represent Williams' is a female.

There aren't any real solid facts that tell us how the college came up with mascot/nickname. All that matters is that it's incredible and that the students at Williams are at an exclusive institution with a great nickname.

7. "Banana Slugs" of UC-Santa Cruz

UC-Santa Cruz has always done things differently. They haven't traditionally follow the "winning is everything" mentality. To them, sports are for everyone and should appeal to all students to promote lifelong physical activities long after college. Enjoyment and having fun playing the game far outweigh winning to this UC school. This also translates to their nickname/mascot. One of the greatest things about this nickname and mascot (Sammy the Slug) is that it never attempted to overcompensate and try to be intimidating. The University of California-Santa Cruz embraced who they are and accepted the small and harmless creature to represent their school.

The student body immediately embraced the Slugs nickname. In 1980 when the school became a member of NCAA Division III, the chancellor Robert Sinsheimer wanted to change the name to the sea lions. The students didn't conform and still cheered and shouted for the Banana Slugs even after a Sea Lion was in paint at center court at basketball games.

6. "Fighting Okra" of Delta State University

Unfortunately, the official nickname is the Statesmen but it might as well be the unofficial nickname the Fighting Okra. The students never really embraced and accepted the Statesmen moniker. The fierce vegetable ready to mess you up at all times came about in the 1980s by a group of students. The problem is that Delta State University will not accept the vegetable with boxing gloves as it's official mascot. I think the Statesmen and Okra should go one and one in the ring and whoever wins is the official mascot. Delta State is making a big mistake by not embracing the Fighting Okra full scale. Luckily the great vegetable has it's own website at

You can't get much better than a mean mugging vegetable. Yes, this vegetable has a face. God bless the students of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi in the 1980s and god bless the students that came after that kept the great mascot going.

5. "Fighting Artichokes" of Scottsdale Community College

The Scottsdale, Arizona based community college was in need of mascot vote in 1970. The school's budget and priorities were an issue with the students. In a perturbed student response to the schools focus and funding towards athletics instead of the books, the choices were the Rutabagas, the Scoundrels and the Artichokes. The Artichokes won out. Art DeCabooter, former president of the college, says the Artichoke got the win because its got heart. That's a man with an interesting perspective and a man I can root for. The original intent was to embarrass the school but it backfired as it was embraced full scale by the athletes, staff and students alike. The school is located on Native American lands and could have easily went for a mascot choice that represented that but they took the road less traveled and it paid off.

The actual mascot Artie the Fighting Artichoke actually comes off as very friendly and doesn't look like he wants to fight at all. Artie could be your boy that goes out with the crew on the weekends. It's safe to say though Artie would get absolutely destroyed the Fighting Okra of Delta State. At least you know Artie's a good time and won't be picking any unnecessary fights on the night out.

4. "Golden Gophers" of the University of Minnesota

In 1857, Minnesota state officials were depicted pulling a train because of a costly rail expansion to western Minnesota in a political cartoon. The state of Minnesota became the Gopher State solely from the controversial cartoon. The University of Minnesota adopted it naturally as it is the state's flagship university. Gold was already a school color and the top ranked football team was referred to as the "Golden" Gophers because of their play and the name has stuck ever since.

A bucktoothed and happy gopher is definitely a bold strategy and decision to represent your academic and athletic institution. With that being said, I'm all for it. The Minnesota Golden Gophers aren't worried about intimidation by nickname or mascot and rather "hit you in the mouth" on the field. The football team has been on the decline since their days of domination. They did show signs of life and success this past season with a New Years Day Bowl appearance against Mizzou in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. They unfortunately came up short 33-17 but they definitely didn't come up short in the mascot and nickname battle. You know they ran away with that one.

3. "Sun Devils" of Arizona State University

It took three tries to get one of the best possible nicknames you can have as a college or university. Owls became Bulldogs, then Bulldogs became the Sun Devils. Shame on whoever thought the name Owls or Bulldogs was even a remotely good idea and a slow clap for the man, or woman, that came up with the great nickname we are left with today.

The student newspaper, The State Press, published constant appeals in 1946 that called for the Bulldogs name to be replaced by the Sun Devil. On November 8th of the same year, 819 students with great taste in nicknames and mascots voted to make the smart change. On November 20th it was made official by the student council. The next day, the first team of ASU played as the Sun Devils. A basketball victory by the score of 42-38 at Mesa High School was the start or launch of a really great nickname. The mascot Sparky looks like the man and can be seen on the sidelines of football games. If the hot girls and amazing weather weren't enough to persuade you to attend ASU then the nickname and mascot should do it. Four years or six or eight at Arizona State I'm sure are the greatest times of the lucky people that attend. I should've applied to ASU and of course to the Campbell Fighting Camels as well. Maybe I'll transfer.

2. "Fighting Pickles" of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA)

The Fighting Pickles of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts find themselves at number two on this list that is heavy on vegetables in need of anger management. UNCSA unfortunately does not have an athletics program which would be epic if they did. Who wouldn't love to see the Fighting Pickles matched up against the Tar Heels of UNC-Chapel Hill which is a part of the same UNC-system.

1972 was the remarkable year that UNCSA became relevant in the nickname and mascot department. The nickname and mascot came about from a campus contest. The school was hosting its first Homecoming and the intramural football team was in need of nickname. There are only rumors on how the name was decided on. It is known however that graduate student Dina Perez was the winner of the mascot design. Chancellor Mauceri always recites the saying, “The Fighting Pickles are peerless and remain undefeated”. It is safe to say UNCSA is proud of their name and mascot, as they should be.

1. "Shockers" of Wichita State

A football poster in 1904 advertising a game between Wichita State (Fairmount College at the time) and the Chilocco Indians displayed the name "Shockers". The teams manager at the time was the great man behind the name and he chose it because of a large number of players "shocking" or harvesting wheat in nearby fields during the offseason for money.

The mascot figure WuShock is what wheat would look like if it has human abilities and lived in the weight room. The jacked mascot has some decent flow on its yellow head as well. The mascot is exactly what I think of when I picture a person from Kansas; blue collar, jacked and tough. WuShock is a celebrity of sorts starring in a movie. He is also infamous for being kicked out of games. The basketball team's success has also propelled WuShock to stardom and has provided him with the spotlight nation wide.

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