I Need a Spring Break from April Fool’s Day Mascots

Fake News; Not Funny; Please Stop.

I’ve never liked the first of April, a day on which perhaps less clever friends and associates lie about any darned thing before simply appending “April fools!” to their passive-aggressive utterances. I wasn’t impressed in grade school; I’m not impressed now.
   Having configured web alerts to flag every instance of “new mascot” in the .edu domain, I now actively despise that spring day when my inbox overfloweth with phony stories from the ever-alert Campus News about replacing a beloved mascot with an awkward new one.
   The most obvious problem with these “news” stories is that they hang around the virtual refrigerator we call the Internet way past their April 2 expiration dates. (That’s the way the web sorta works.) Somebody who stumbles across the story months or decades later has no way of knowing it’s a joke, and the notable lack of humor doesn’t help them. That can invite negative publicity if you inadvertently dupe a Fox affiliate.


Nobody thought of this? An innocent google image search on 25 March 2016 proves that the Luther College Fighting Gnome (red circle added) lives in infamy far beyond April 1, 2015.

   One can’t, therefore, blame the 100 would-be UC Davis students who might have thought they were being punked by an e-mail dated 1 April 2002 that said their initial acceptance for the class of 2008 had been accidental. NYU had to bail out of a very similar hole with an e-mail (stamped 1 April 2009) that told some kids they weren’t necessarily accepted after all. (Upon further review, such admissions mistakes happen a lot.) And every one of the NCAA’s championship basketball games in this century has fallen between April 1 and April 8, with the preceding weeks of “March Madness” traditionally being the period of most intense mascot googling. If I worked in the University Communications office, I might just go fishin’ that week.
   When reading the (presumably incomplete) list of institutions below, follow the hyperlinks to see if you can find something that’s actually funny. Then let us know. Feel free to stop reading after you’ve figured out it’s the same joke over and over. And apparently it’s damned funny if the new representative is either a platypus (three instances) or a squirrel (eleven). And we’re not sure why nobody’s picked April 1 to call their boys Cryin’ Wolves .

TIMELINE:

1958:
Two months after the Blizzard of ’58, the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Reporter says that Bruno the Polar Bear is to replace the Tiger as mascot.

1980:
The James Madison University Dukes were named after former President Samuel Duke, but they’re being recast as Carrier Pigeons after (sitting) president Ronald E. Carrier (referred to here as “Ronnie Scarrier” for reasons we assume must be awesome).

1984:
In an edition dated 1883 (get it?; we sure don’t), the Bridgewater State College Comment says its Bear is replaced by Scruffy the cat.

1985:
• Wake Forest U. drops its Demon Deacons for the “university seal,” resulting in Seals teams.
• The Review at the University of Delaware announces the death of D-Man, who would have replaced the Blue Hens’ chicken mascot had he not been fatally choked by his superhero cape when it caught the rim during a slam dunk.

1999:
The Ram mascot for Virginia Commonwealth University has escaped and is “on the lam.

2005:
An angry Babson College Beaver announces that he’s quitting as mascot (the last page here).

2006: The Babson College Free Press reports that the Beaver (apparently back on the job) is struck and killed by a BMW M5—now that’s comedy!—requiring the selection of a new nickname.

2007:
• The campus Torch says Bergen Community College is swapping Bulldogs for Geese. If BCC meant it as a joke but mistakenly provides an excellent reason: “[because] a bulldog is such an over used mascot.”
• The Brandeis University Hoot (the real name of the campus news) says the school is replacing the Judges’ mascot Ollie the Owl with Master Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

2009:
• Plymouth State University announces the mascot change from a Panther to a Platypus.
• The Thiel College Thielensian (real name) says PETA has forced a mascot change from Tomcats to Fighting Lutherans. (It’s not that crazy; Wittenberg University traded real Fighting Lutherans for Tigers in the 1920s.)

2010:
The Southern Utah University Thunder reports that Thunderbirds shall be displaced by Prairie Dogs.

2011:
• The Alfred University Saxons are replaced by Ninos out of highest regard for local restaurant and bar owner John Ninos.
• The Tampa Bay Rays replace Raymond the sea creature with Sunny, the caped spandexed somethingorother.
• The Washington College Elm says Crabs will replace Shoremen.
• The Plunge at Somerset Community College (no intercollegiate teams) announces that TomBucket the Tomato is the new mascot. This issue of the Plunge seamlessly morphs into the Bridge by page 3, meaning that an editorial that says torture yields good intelligence is apparently to be taken seriously.

2012:
The College of Idaho’s Coyote announces that the Coyotes (often ’Yotes) will be replaced by Gotes (page 8, here).

2013:
• In recent years the Brevard College Clarion has been published as the Hilarion on April 1, so we doub anybody really thought the Tornado was being replaced by the White Squirrel.
• The Daily Gamecock says the University of South Carolina’s Gamecock is hereby replaced by the Tufted Titmouse.
• The green, scaly, fire-breathing mascot for Blaze teams at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is replaced by Sparky the Pink Dragon.
• The Mount Messenger says Mount Saint Mary College’s Knights are to become Shepherds.
• Georgia Tech opens a contest to replace its Buzz the bee mascot.
• Laramie County Community College’s president announces in this clip that Golden Eagles will be replaced by the Wind.
• According to the Presbyterian University BlueStocking, the Blue Hose will become Blue Jeggings “move into modern fashion.”
• Lock Haven University’s Eagle says the Bald Eagle mascot has been renamed “Burt Reynolds” ... which we don’t even begin to understand.
• In a joke that takes way too long to get (if ever), the University at Buffalo fires mascot Victor E. Bull.

2014:
• Getting an April Fool’s Eve head start, the Southern News at Southern Connecticut State University reports the replacement of Otis the Owl by Sam the Sperm Whale.
• The University News insists that Penelope the Pygmy Hippo will force the retirement of Kasey the Kangaroo as the University of Missouri–Kansas City mascot. (Too bad it wasn’t real; it could have been a Hippo campus.)
• Nazareth College says the Golden Flyers will thereafter be Winter Squirrels.
• Bastyr University, specializing in health science and nutrition, adopts its first mascot, Kale.
• An independent student newspaper at UC-Berkeley announces that the costumed Oksi the Golden Bear may be replaced by a live grizzly.
• Susquehanna University somehow gets WBRE-TV to go along with the story that a squirrel will henceforth represent its Crusaders, although how that’s less appropriate than Susky’s caped tiger eludes us (and no Crusaders should ever joke about changing mascots, no. 2 here). In fact, SU held a very real poll that same spring in which the squirrel-Crusader took more than 50 percent of votes cast to replace the tiger-Crusader. The Squirrels name and mascot were presumed official by several media outlets by early November 2015, with one Fox station characterizing it as an attack by the PC police. That left SU’s president trying to retract rumours of squirrel mascots in a very real November 10 letter.
• A video on the “Tufts Admisisons” youtube page says Jumbo the elephant is replaced by the Slow Loris, which if nothing else—and there is nothing else—is a good excuse to learn what a slow loris is.
• The University of Chicago’s admissions office strays toward Dadaism by reporting that the Maroons will replace their phoenix mascot with a “dog wearing a small hat.”
• Springfield College swallows its Pride and throws up for your consideration the Pistol Shrimp, which apparently is a thing.
• The Bryan College Triangle says a live lion is arriving from Africa to accompany its Lions.
• The Advocate at Minnesota State University–Moorhead says the Dragon mascot Scorch is replaced by Olaf the snowman (page 6 here) from the 2013 animated Disney release Frozen.
• Rutgers University uses a phony press conference to announce the replacement of the Scarlet Knight with the Goldfinch, the state bird of New Jersey.

2015:
• According to correspondent April Furste (LMAO!), the Mules and Jennies at the University of Central Missouri are about to be Squirrels.
• The University of Kansas Alumni Association reverts to a much earlier version of the Jayhawk (although which version exactly is spectacularly unclear).
• Drury University’s twitter feed and Facebook page say their Panther is becoming a Squirrel.
• In 2010, William and Mary [really] replaced Indian symbols for its Tribe with a griffin ... then announced in 2015 that a griffin’s nest had [not really] been discovered on a rooftop.
• The Washington College Elm says squirrels that “have wanted to be the school’s mascot for a very long time” are attacking students and faculty.
• If you can trust the DeSales Daily (don’t), the Desales University Bulldogs have a future as Grey Crowned Cranes.
• The Gannon University Edge says Manatees are the choice to replace “Golden Knights.”
• The Viking imagery associated with the Luther College Norse is replaced by a Fighting Gnome .
• Testudo the Terrapin turtle is rendered obsolete by a robot named TECHtudo at the University of Maryland. (Within a few short years, improvements to the robo-turtle that would spring from UMD's Robotics Center in 2016 may make people wonder why this was ever funny.)
• Boomer the Bear at Missouri State University may be replaced by Scrapper the Squirrel.
• The Northeastern University Huskies are becoming Blue Lobsters.
• Northampton Community College says its Spartans shall be Yaks to rhyme with the school’s original initials, “NCAACC” (Northampton County Area Community College).
• Ursinus College will be renamed Bovinus College at the same time its Bears transition to Fighting Heifers. (In our discussion of team names from different episodes of The Simpsons, we explain how both “Bovine University” and “cow college” are historically informed.)
• The Whitman College Missionaries (misidentified as Pioneers in the Pioneer) will henceforth be Komodo Dragons. Curiously, Whitman doesn’t even wait for April anymore, as this February 2016 Pioneer story shows. Missing from this joke is the important background fact that the Pioneer announced that same day that the “Missionaries” nickname would be undergoing a reevaluation.
• The University of Saskatchewan’s Instagram account says Howler the Huskie is displaced by Plucky the Platypus.
• The Simpson College Acorn (admittedly a magazine of satire) presents a list of several proposed mascots for its Storm: goat, cat, fox, Zeus, weatherman, and (of course) a squirrel.
• The New College at the University of Toronto says the new New mascot is the Silver Fox . This is a satirical failure because a Silver Fox could never be as funny as the real mascot, the New College Gnu.
• Utica College’s twitter feed says Trax the Pioneer moose is replaced by Petey the Platypus.
• The already expansive State University of New York system announces a new “flagship” campus, SUNY Deep Blue, a tour ship represented by Parrot athletics.
• In our favorite case, a burly sailor mascot was announced as the new rep for the Lakers at Iowa Lakes Community College on April 1, 2015. If real, he’d be the most ripped mascot for any team we know of, but ILCC so rarely uses him in their promotional materials that we honestly don’t know if it’s a joke or not. (At least one TV station took the sailor’s bait, unless it isn’t bait.)

2016:
• The Campus Voice at Florida State College–Jacksonville says the Canada Goose is the new mascot, presumably (but not explicitly) replacing FSCJ’s BlueWave.
• The University of Maine gets rid of the Black Bear and brings back a (supposedly) former mascot, the Elephant.


Where on earth did UMaine get the idea for its new emblem?

• The University of North Carolina School of the Arts replaces its unofficial and rarely seen Fighting Pickle (not associated with intercollegiate athletics) with Charlie the (Fighting) Cucumber.
• Central Washington University is dumping “Wildcats” for “Orcas,” which probably doesn’t sound that unlikely or risqué to either the Orcas up at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham or Fin, the orca mascot for the NHL Cannucks, a further hour’s drive in Vancouver.
• The alumni Facebook page says Boston University’s Rhett the Terrier is replaced by Bub the Bee. The announcement unwittingly falls in line with a ubiquitous BU lie ... that Rhett has been the mascot “for 94 years.” School colors are scarlet and white, and BU insists he’s the namesake of Rhett Butler, the love interest of Scarlet O’hara in Gone with the Wind, first published in 1936. College-level math shows that to be only 80 years ago.
• In a confusingly deconstructed effort to cover an April Fool’s story as an April Fool’s prank, the Idaho State University Journal says Benny the Bengal is replaced by a creature that’s been haunting campus, Bigfoot.
The Daily Clog (like “Blog”; get it?) says UC-Berkeley will follow the Stanford Cardinal and replace Golden Bears” with a color, “Periwinkle.”
• Goldy the Gopher at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is retiring. FACT CHECK: No he ain’t.
• The twitter account for the University of Louisiana–Lafayette’s football coach reveals new crawfish-stamped helmets for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
• In a confusing story from the Lakehead University Argus that isn’t even dated April 1 (it’s a weekly dated March 29), LU replaces the Thunderwolves’ mascot “Wolfie” with something “more threatening”: “Black Ice” (I think).
• The McDaniel College Free Press (as the McDern Funion) says school emlbems will be redesigned to emphasize the “Terror” part of the “Green Terror” nickname because the current mascot resembles the “lovechild of the Grinch and the Abominable Snowman” (true enough). Terrible mascots to be considered are the Green Student Debt Payment and the Green Islamic State fighter. (Don’t blame the messenger.)
• Is Truman State University’s Bulldog becoming a Squirrel? (Hint: nope.)
• You can’t say New Jersey’s NHL team held back on convincing graphics when it announced its switch from Devils” to “Angels.”

2017:
• A frequent contributor to this list, Maryland’s Washington College, is swapping the Gus the Goose mascot for its Shoremen and Shorewomen with Barb the Blobfish.
• If you were from the Fuchs family, would you make name-calling jokes? University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs would, as he announces an initiative to “Drain the Swamp” (syntax from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign) and replace the “Gators” name. That fake news is followed quickly by a faux angry reaction by football coach Steve Spurrier and then Fuchs’s inevitable retraction. (See the hilarity play out here for as long as it’s posted.)
• A fan site reports that the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks will be Vancouver Americans for the 2017/18 season.
• Goshen College trades Maple Leafs for “more grammatically correct” Maple Leaves ... but that’s less grammatically correct to anyone who knows to simply add -s to make a proper noun plural (something I discuss in relation to Bisons and Maple Leafs in Naming Rites).
• The purple and gold at Whittier College replace their Johnny Poet mascot with a mammoth named Woolly Whittier. (This comes a mere four days before the purple and white at Amherst College announce that their teams will actually become the only Mammoths in college sports.)
• The College of Charleston’s Cougars are henceforth Blue Crabs.
• Wesleyan U. says goodbye Cardinals and hello Squirrels.
• At least the website for Hamline University—home of the Pipers—comes right out and says its “Flimingos” identity is a one-day deal (April 1) ... but don’t tell anyone at the University of the Bahamas that flamingos are inherently silly mascots; UB had just announced that its Caribs will henceforth be Mingoes, after the Bahamas’ national bird, the American flamingo.

2018:
• A silly blog post in the Daily Californian says that Oskie the beloved Golden Bear mascot is retiring. But is that sillier than having a mascot named from the meaningless cheer “Oski Wow-Wow! … Whiskey Wee-Wee! …”? We don't know.
• Caesar, the Saint Bernard mascot for Santa Fe College's Saints, has been has been arrested for going about the campus without a leash. (European soccer fans know that he wasn't even the only team mascot arrested that night.)
• A Facebook page associated with New Mexico Tech’s alumni announces that football is returning to its campus in the form of MuttonBusters (p. 10 here). Mutton bustin’ is a competition that we are totally not making up in which kids ride sheep as grown-ups do bulls. And we will argue to anyone that “MuttonBusters” would not be a sillier team name than “Hoyas,” “Hokies,” or “Boilermakers” (see no. 3 here).
• Southern Utah's weekly Independent reports that the bison mascot for Dixie State University's Trailblazers has been ground up to supply DSU's dining halls with bison burgers ... which (again) isn't funny if you know that George Fox University students dined on “bear steaks” after giving their live bear mascot up to a butcher in 1883.
• Lafayette College announces that it is merging with Lehigh University as Laf-High, and the former rival Leopards (LC) and Mountain Hawks (LU) will be combined Griffins.

Typical griffins have the head of a lion and wings of an eagle, but Laf-High's is a leopard-headed hawk.

• Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC are based a few miles from Loch Ness, and in the past they had a Nessie monster mascot. In late March of this year, he was reintroduced with a new name: Lionel. On April 1, Thistle announced that they'll henceforth be to Loch Ness Monsters FC. Is that true? We don't know, because there's no ironic distance between a soccer team named after a monster and their (real) "Lionel Nessie" mascot.
• In a story we'd love to be true, the Daily at Kellogg Community College announced a new associate's degree in Mascot Studies, but that turned out to be an elaborate Rickroll.

2019
• Sam Houston State University’s Sammy the Bearkat retires to make way for either Margie the Chicken or Sir Peabody the Squirrel.
• Catawba Valley Community College is keeping its Red Hawks but changing to a Harry the Hawk mascot. He’s acutally a sasquatch, which we think is a reference to the film Harry and the Hendersons .
• Fair Grove High School is leaving Eagles behind for Fightin’ Frogs.
• At Portland Community College, Poppie the Panther
retires. For some reason.
• The Collegiate Times announces that Virginia Tech is dumping its HokieBird mascot for the Duck Pond Otter. This at least refers to a real event from two days earlier, when an otter became a bit of an internet sensation after appearing in a campus pond.
• According to a video from Texas A&M University–Commerce, Lions are gone and Bois d’Arcs are in. (The bois d’arc, or "Osage orange," is a fruit native to Texas.)
• The Gettysburgian says the Gettysburg College Bullets are now Grapeshots . This one is at least historically informed: “The grapeshot was first introduced to Gettysburg more than a century ago in July of 1863 and has been embedded in the Gettysburg culture ever since.” (There are still bullet holes from the huge battle visibly drilled into many older buildings around town.)
• The Tacoma Ledger says that the University of Washington is getting rid of the Husky and asks “students”—who are actually celebrity Evergreen State natives—to make suggestions for a replacement. The usual degree of hilarity ensues.
• On its Facebook page, Ashland University dumps its Eagle for Gary the Goat.
• According to a video that someone took time to make, the Eagle is out at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Blobfish is in ... which is the second instance of blobfish mascots in as many years. (Just read my blog, people!)
• Johns Hopkins University really did update it mascot in February, but we made little sense of the 1 April interview with the person in the foamy suit in J-Hop’s [real] News-Letter (which is an awesome name for a newsletter).
• Southern New Hampshire University is replacing Penmen with Tissues because "SNHU" sounds like the finale of a sneeze ("ahh-SNHU!").
• The City College of New York’s Twitter feed annonces that Benny the Beaver yields to Rocky the Raccoon with no hint as to why that’s funny.
• The University of California-Irvine uses Twitter to announce a unicorn mascot is
replacing its Anteater. ("Unicorns was on the final ballot in 1965 when UCI elected to have Anteaters in 1965.

2020:
See you next year (unfortunately).

© Glenn Arthur Pierce, 2016–2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Glenn Arthur Pierce and the book Naming Rites with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

abbreviated URL: http://bit.do/AprilFoolMascots

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Click here to return to the Naming Rites Blog table of contents. Glenn Arthur Pierce is the author of Naming Rites: A Biographical History of North American Team Names, now available at Amazon.com . (Click “Read Excerpt” here.)
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Published on March 25, 2016 12:56
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Naming Rites: A Team Name and Mascot Blog

Glenn Arthur Pierce
Glenn Arthur Pierce is the author Naming Rites: A Biographical History of North American Team Names. This companion blog continues to track trends and controversies pertaining to team names past and p ...more
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