March Madness Final Four Mascot Edition

To be honest, I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea, but here we are: I’m looking at the two Final Four brackets and depending on the school’s nickname and mascot, I’m making my predictions as to who is moving onto the championships. Yep. A great use of my time.

Anyway, I’ll look at whether the nickname and mascot are the same or different, what the mascots names are, if there’s an origin story for the nickname or mascot, and on a scale of 1–10, how likely would I be to go up to the mascot? (1 is run in the complete opposite direction, 10 is eagerly go up and take a picture with it.)

Unless linked, I got the majority of my information from Wikipedia. It was easy to google the school and work off of their respective Wikipedia pages, which also had pages for the nicknames and mascots. I’m not trying to take any credit here for research—I mean, I probably spent close to two hours putting this post together 🙃

Men’s Final Four

Florida Atlantic University vs. San Diego State University


The nickname Owls comes from burrowing owls, which are popular on the land of the university, and in 1971, the national Audubon Society designated FAU’s land an official owl sanctuary.

Kind of obvious but the mascots are named Owlsley and Hoot. I think Hoot is cute, but Owlsley doesn’t seem all that original. The two have their own social media accounts and don’t seem too terrifying. I’d give them an 8 on the scale.


  • Nickname: Aztecs
  • Mascot: Aztec warrior

So another matching nickname and mascot. I had to do some digging on SDSU’s Wikipedia page to find the origin of the Aztec nickname. Apparently, the origin is disputed among university historians but the nickname came from a student (class of 1926) who was walking by the California Tower in Balboa Park and was inspired by the murals of indigenous people from Latin America. This nickname and also the mascot have caused controversy for the school, due to its reference to historical tribes and cultures.

In 2019, SDSU’s president ended the use of an Aztec Warrior/Monty Montezuma mascot, and as of 2021, it looks like the school was exploring options to replace the Aztec Warrior mascot. So at the moment, it seems there is no physical mascot, only the nickname, and that means no scale rating.

Winner: FAU—by default

University of Miami vs. University of Connecticut

Miami (aka “The U”):

*insert U hand sign here* According to the University’s website, there are a few origin stories of the nickname Hurricanes. It seems to have come from the 1926-27 football team who wanted to sweep away opponents just as a hurricane did in September 1926.

Sebastian is an ibis, and the ibis was chosen because it’s typically the last animal to flee an approaching hurricane and the first reappear after the storm. Prior to Sebastian, the first official mascot was a boxer dog named Hurricane I, chosen in 1950. According to the University’s website, in 1957, San Sebastian Hall, a residence hall on campus, sponsored an ibis entry in the homecoming game.

So, Sebastian seems fine, but it’s the open mouth that’s kind of creeping me out. So I’d give him a 5 on the scale. I feel like he’d eat me whole with his mouth open like that.


  • Nickname: Huskies
  • Mascot: Jonathan the Husky

Disclaimer: I feel biased with UConn since they’re located in my home state and I’m fully aware of their nickname and mascot situation.

According to the University’s website, the teams are nicknamed the Huskies because of a student poll done in 1934 after the school changed names from Connecticut Agricultural College to Connecticut State College. In the same year, a student content names the mascot Jonathan after Jonathan Trumbull, Connecticut’s Revolutionary War-era governor. So pretty straight forward.

However, in addition to having a costumed mascot named Johnathan, UConn also has an actual husky dog named Jonathan the 14th!!! On my scale, I’d give costumed Jonathan an 8, and husky dog Jonathan a 10—or even an 11.

Winner: UConn—how could you not give it to Jonathan the 14th???? Such a cutey (and Josh has even met him!)

Women’s Final Four

Louisiana State University vs. Virginia Tech


  • Nickname: Tigers
  • Mascot: Mike the Tiger

The nickname Tigers, according to LSU football tradition, came from a Civil War regiment known as the Louisana Tigers, and it made sense for LSU which began as a military school in 1860.

Folks, LSU has a costumed tiger mascot and A REAL LIVE TIGER MASCOT WHO LIVES ON CAMPUS!!!!! Mike I arrived on campus in 1936, and the current tiger is Mike VII. Sixty students and three veterinarians have cared for the Mikes over the years. There’s even a tiger cam!!! I’d give Mike the costume mascot an 8 on the scale, and I’d give Mike the live tiger a 1—there’s no way I’d get anywhere close to the tiger.

(Side note: do you think there’s an emergency plan if Mike escapes his habitat and starts running around campus?)


The origin of the nickname the Hokies started back in 1896 as part of a new spirit yell when the college’s name was changed from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. The term “hokie” has been around since the mid-1800s and was used to express feeling, excitement, or surprise.

Their mascot is the HokieBird, a turkey-like creature, which stemmed from another monkier, The Gobbler, which had been used for many years. In 1913, a school employee trained a turkey to perform stunts at a football game, but the first permanent costumed mascot showed up in 1962. On the scale of 1 to 10, I’d probably give the HokieBird a 6. It looks nice but a large turkey kind of freaks me out.

Winner: LSU—solely because they have a real life tiger in a habitat on campus

University of Iowa vs. University of South Carolina


According to the University’s website, the name Hawkeye originally appiled to a hero in a fictional novel The Last of the Mohicans, and years after the book was published, people in the territory of Iowa acquired the nickname because of two men in the local area.

Herky the Hawk first appeared in 1948 as a symbol to represent the athletic teams, and Herky first appeared as a costumed mascot in 1959. Both the cartoon drawing and actual costume are kind of creepy—the open grimmacing mouth seems unnecessary. Like it makes me think he’s just really tense or angry. I’d probably give him a 4 on the scale.

South Carolina

  • Nickname: Gamecocks
  • Mascot: Cocky

Way back in 1900, the football team was referred to as the Gamecocks by a newspaper, the nickname a refernce to the fighting tactics of General Thomas Sumter, the Revolutionary War hero known as the Fighting Gamecock—which he got for his fierce fighting style against Bristish soliders during the Revolutionary War.

So, similar to LSU, South Carolina has a costumed mascot and a real live mascot. The costumed mascot is named Cocky and he’s super creepy. The current verison of Cocky made his debut in 1980; beginning in 1971, a undergraduate student attended games in a homemade Gamecock costume. Meanwhile, apparently there was a naming issue in regards to the live rooster. Previously called “Sir Big Spur,” the creature is now called “The General.” A dispute between its old and new owners led to the name change, and he’s also named after General Sumter. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m giving Cocky a 4—the open mouth is weird, and I don’t like that you can see the person’s legs who’s in the costume (like it doesn’t have separate pants).

Winner: South Carolina—only because they have a live rooster who now is probably having an identity crisis after his name being changed


  1. Though I disagree with your ruling on the Hokie Bird, I can appreciate your decision. Fun fact: you know how every Thanksgiving, the US President pardons a turkey….? Well some of those pardoned turkeys have gotten to live out the rest of their years in the Hokie Bird’s backyard at Virginia Tech. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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