The FCS Playoffs are upon us, and I, for one, am very excited. Obviously, I'm hoping a crazy regular season means some crazy stuff goes down in the playoffs, and I'm a big fan of playoffs in general, but I'm also happy because I can write about mascots again.
I know what you're saying. "Ben, you don't need an excuse to write about mascots. It's never not a good idea." I hear you, and you're absolutely right, but this is the perfect format to go through the thought experiment of mascot fights (I'm trying to make it sound classy by calling it a thought experiment — not sure it worked).
You know the drill, but in case you don't, I took the FCS Playoff bracket and filled it out based on which mascot I thought would win in a fight. In all but two cases, that means their nickname, but for James Madison it means a bulldog, not a duke, and for UC Davis it means a horse, not an aggie.
Home field advantage is still a thing in this situation, it just means the home mascot is in their natural habitat. You'll also see some numbers next to every team. Those are rankings based on an article I wrote ranking every NCAA football team's success potential in a fight. It doesn't mean that I went with them 100%, but they are a good baseline.
Enough messing around. Let's look at my bracket. I would like to apologize for the drawings. I am not a good artist. The thing trying to be a bison is particularly bad, but I didn't want to write out all my picks again. I will never apologize for all the Harry Potter references.
- Overall, there were a disappointing lack of close matchups. I'd say that the Maine Black Bears run to the final included a couple of tough ones, the UNI Panthers vs the Nicholls Colonels is fairly close, the North Dakota State Bison vs the Colgate Raiders isn't bad, and Nicholls facing off with the San Diego Toreros in the first round had potential, but other than that, there wasn't much. You'll notice most of those were large animals fighting humans and I was in a large animal mood today.
- There are only two Dukes in NCAA football, and both of them are in this bracket in Duquesne and James Madison, so that's fun.
- Also fun were the two different varieties of fighting chicken with the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State and the Blue Hens of Delaware.
- The only time I went against my own rankings was having a black bear beat a colonel in the semifinal between Maine and Nicholls. I stand by the general rankings, but I think in the specific case of Nicholls, especially given the prominence of a sword in their logo, I don't trust a colonel who hasn't seen real battle in years and is probably armed with a sword and a not very powerful gun to beat a fully grown pissed off bear.
- The top ten most popular NCAA nicknames come up fairly often in this bracket. We have the Towson Tigers, UNI Panthers, Eastern Washington Eagles, Weber State Wildcats, and Incarnate Word and Lamar Cardinals. That's a full quarter of the field. My kingdom for some creativity! You can see the full list of most popular nicknames here.
Why the Elon Phoenix Won
It's well documented that I love a mythical bird. Last year, I had Elon in the finals, only bested by a Thunderbird from Southern Utah. Not only can phoenixes basically resurrect themselves from any deadly situation (see Fawkes the phoenix swallowing a killing curse in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), they have an affinity with fire and can use it as a weapon.
There's no way a small creature like a terrier or owl, or even a big creature like a tiger, bison, or black bear, could contend with either the intelligence or firepower (lol) of the mighty phoenix.