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The Best College Team Nicknames

- February 23, 2008

Remember, in Barry Levinson’s movie “Diner,” the part where the Steve Guttenberg character required his fiancee to pass an extremely difficult Baltimore Colts trivia test before the nuptials could proceed? I put my wife, Carol, through a similar ordeal during our long-ago courtship, drilling her relentlessly on college teams’ nicknames until I was sure she could tell a Duck from a Beaver, distinguish various Bulldogs from various Wildcats, and pull out an occasional oddity like the Thundering Herd and the Demon Deacons.

In the same spirit, Josh Pahigian recently posted to espn.com his personal list of the best team nicknames in college basketball, and as a team-names afficianado I must say that I’m impressed.

Right off the bat, though, I’ve got to disqualify his #1 choice on grounds that it’s so obvious that we shouldn’t even deign to list it. (There’s an old story that a reporter asked Leo Durocher whom he would consider the strongest man in the National League. “Gil Hodges,” Leo the Lip instantly replied. The reporter, obviously taken aback, said “How can you say that when Ted Kluszewski is in the league?” “Ah,” came the reply, “Big Klu’s so obvious that he doesn’t even count.”)


Applying the Big Klu Rule, I’m disqualifying the University of California – Santa Cruz Banana Slugs, who would be Every Thinking Person’s choice if eligible. Thus, with Pahigian’s remaining choices upgraded by one rank apiece, here’s the list, with a few visual aids thrown in gratis:

1. Concordia College Cobbers. The team mascot, the Cobber (shown below), is a snarling ear of corn, with green-husk trousers (Actually, I think several of the next eight nicknames are better than the Cobbers, but de gustibus non disputandum.)


2. Evergreen State College Geoducks. For those who don’t know, a geoduck (pronounced “gooey duck”) is a large burrowing clam. The school’s fight song begins: “Go, Geoducks, go/Through the mud and the sand/Let’s go/Siphon high, squirt it out,/Swivel all about/Let it all hang out.”


3. Washburn University Ichabods.

4. California Maritime Academy Keelhaulers.

5. Centenary College Ladies and Gents.

6. Rowan University Profs. Now there is a classy name! And Rowan’s msacot is an owl named “Whoo R U.”

7. Oglethorpe University Stormy Petrels.

8. Heidelberg College Student Princes.

9. Trinity Christian College Trolls. It’s an acronym for TRinity cOLLege.


Among Pahigian’s “best of the rest”:

bq. Brooklyn College Bridges
Pittsburg State University Gorillas
Webster University Gorlocks
Bryant & Stratton College Lemmings
Mary Baldwin College Squirrels

Can’t you just hear yourself chanting “Go, Squirrels, Go!” (Though, now that I think of it, that’s pretty much the same situation that fans of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers find themselves in. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

[Hat tip to Maurice East]

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