College Mascots can be incredibly unsettling, even if they’re one of the most lovable ones. But which college mascots are the scariest, and what are their crazy backstories? Here are the top 13 creepiest, weirdest and scariest mascots according to UMass Lowell students.
#13 – Sam the Minuteman (UMass Amherst)
(Photo courtesy of SBNation) “Sam the Minuteman, with a very unsettling smile.”
A familiar face for many students since he is the mascot of another UMass school, but he wasn’t always the mascot. In 1948, the mascot and name of the athletic teams was “Redmen”. But in 1972 the UMass Trustees forced it to change to the Minutemen. There was a huge backlash from students and the athletic department, saying that it was ridiculous that they had little say in the decision over the few students who complained. But luckily, there were others that heavily defended the change. And while the mascot is unsettling, at least it’s better than what it used to be.
#12 – Super Frog (Texas Christian University)
(Photo courtesy of Sportskeeda) “Super Frog, with badly drawn eyes and weird spiky forearms.”
The “Horned Frog” first appeared in 1897 after football was just added to the college and was added to the University seal in 1915. It was chosen as their mascot when their brand-new football field was filled with Horned Lizards, which are also called Horned Frogs in Texas. So, the mascot, even though it is called Super Frog, is a lizard. Which honestly, makes the mascot costume even worse because of inaccuracy.
#11 – Big Red (Western Kentucky University)
(Photo courtesy of ESPN) “Big Red, with a huge mouth that has been seen to eat a ridiculous number of volleyballs.”
He represents their sports team, the “Hilltoppers”, the name coming from the fact that in 1911 the school was moved on top of a hill. In 1979, Ralph Carrey tried making a mascot, but didn’t want to use any known animal and didn’t want to follow any Kentuckian stereotypes. So, he drew a red, furry blob and that became the mascot. Other fun facts about Big Red are that it’s not listed by the school as neither male or female, and it became friends with Grimace during his birthday in 2023.
#10 – Gus T (University of Tulsa)
(Photo Courtesy of University of Tulsa Instagram) “Gus T, which is supposed to be a hurricane, but why does a hurricane need a chin that big.”
He is supposed to be a hurricane (but really looks like a certain emoji) named for their team, the Golden Hurricanes. This was a switch made in 2023, but the university has a huge history of having a lot of switches with questionable choices. Their first mascot was “Hurc the Hurricane” in 1987, which was a hurricane made of golden fur. In 1988, Captain Cane was added as a sidekick to the renamed hurricane, Huffy. In 1997, Captain Cane became the hurricane itself and Huffy retired. In 2009, Captain Cane became a human-looking superhero who was supposedly a freshman student turned superhero due to the crowd cheering through a malfunctioning satellite dish.
#9 – Herky the Hawk (University of Iowa)
(Photo courtesy of Iowa City Press Citizen) “Herky the Hawk, who looks really angry all the time.”
Herky, which is short for Hercules, was made in 1948 from a caricature drawn for the athletic department, and first appeared as a costume in 1959. But Herky would constantly play dangerous pranks on other mascots, so the school banned him. But in the 1980s, he was brought back. The head used to be fiberglass before 2014. In 1997 after a game where they shut out Michigan in a 31-0 game, one of Michigan’s drummers attacked Herky and broke the head into pieces, which Michigan took pieces back home as a trophy. Talk about being sore losers.
#8 – Charlie Cardinal (Ball State University)
(Photo Courtesy of Charlie Cardinal’s Facebook) “Charlie Cardinal, with probably the creepiest eyes in the history of mascots.”
There isn’t much to say about the history of this mascot, except for the fact that the sports team has been known as the Cardinals since 1927, which was previously known as the Hooserions. But the eyes of this unsettling mascot say enough.
#7 – Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State University)
(Photo courtesy of Washington Post) “Pistol Pete, with a very disproportional head compared to his hands.”
In 1923, the school needed a new mascot because previously they just copied Princeton’s tiger. Some students saw Frank Eaton at a parade and asked if they could base the mascot off him, and he agreed. The mascot is named “Pistol Pete” because when Frank Eaton was on his mission to kill his father’s murderers, he trained at Fort Gibson and received the marksman name “Pistol Pete”. Even though this mascot is definitely a bit creepy, he’s still asked to come to local events like weddings.
#6 – Stanford Tree (Stanford University)