Everybody has that one friend who fills out their March Madness bracket every year based on their favorite mascots. Well this year I'm doing that for the FCS playoffs, and I'm basing it on who would win in a fight.
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Now, a few ground rules. First, the words mascot and nickname are kind of used interchangeably, but in this instance I'm using mostly nicknames only. For example, Western Illinois' contender is a Leatherneck, not their bulldog mascot. The exception is James Madison, because using a Duke would be dumb.
Second, I'm using the seeding from the actual tournament to determine home field (or ocean) advantage. This will come into play in a big way. Other than that, it's free for all.
If you disagree with me (and I'm sure you will about something), bring on the Twitter hate. I will literally debate you all day about this @befox21. I may even be the first person on Twitter to change my mind about something. Anything's possible.
So enjoy the glory of the FCS playoffs, mascot style:
Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Stony Brook Seawolves
First of all, it's important that you know what a Seawolf is. According to the Stony Brook website, "A Seawolf is a mythical sea creature and according to the legend of the Seawolf, anyone fortunate enough to view it was subject to good luck." That's really not much to go on, so I'm basically imagining a mer-wolf.
The home field advantage really comes into play in this one. If a Seawolf was forced to go to the mountains, we would have a problematic wolf out of water situation, and the Hawk would easily win. A battle at the ocean is a different story.
The Hawk would undoubtedly struggle with the salt water environment, be distracted and harassed by seabirds, and generally lose focus, thus giving the Seawolf the opportunity to use a game of patience to best the mighty Mountain Hawk.
Western Illinois Leathernecks at Weber State Wildcats
According to their website, Western Illinois is the only non-military institution with a military based nickname. A Leatherneck is a Marine, and as such would dispatch a Wildcat with relative ease, even in the Wildcat's natural habitat, the Wild.
If we were forced to go with WIU's mascot, an english bulldog, it would be an entirely different story. Wild cat vs domesticated dog would not end well for the dog.
Monmouth Hawks at Northern Iowa Panthers
As in any battle between an air-based animal and a land-based one, this would be a war of attrition. The only way the panther does any damage is if the hawk gets within paw reach, and the hawk can't do much in a jungle environment (the panther's most common natural habitat, I checked) without getting close as well.
Most hawks hunt small mammals or other birds, so I think it's safe to say our hawk would struggle with something as big as a panther. It might be able to get a few talon slashes in, but one direct hit from the panther paw and it's game over.
Central Connecticut State Blue Devils at New Hampshire Wildcats
I'm not really sure what a blue devil is, and I'm especially not sure what the blue brings to the table. Like, is a purple devil less intimidating? I guess we'll never know.
Anyway, the lack of specificity surrounding the wildcat mascot slightly irks me, and devils have a reputation of being, shall we say, rowdy. Therefore, I'm going with the devil. If he gets this wildcat to eat an apple, that poor feline doesn't stand a chance.
Verdict: Blue Devil
Samford Bulldogs at Kennesaw State Owls
This tournament is lousy with bulldogs. And speaking of lousy, that's how I would describe the fighting prowess of said bulldog. I would say the owl would win even in the bulldog's natural habitat, the living room, but put a bulldog outside at night and it stands absolutely no chance.
South Dakota Coyotes at Nicholls Colonels
I feel like this is one of the few fights that's probably happened in real life, and I bet colonels have walked away with a W about 87% of the time. Lieutenants, on the other hand, do struggle with coyotes.
This is a classic case of coyote coming onto farm and harassing animals, and coyote getting shot. Side note: this colonel lives on a farm, not entirely sure why. What I am entirely sure about is that the colonel will be continuing on, with a great opportunity to make more chicken.
Furman Paladins at Elon Phoenix
Step one, education. A Paladin is basically a knight, a "paragon of chivalry", or a member of Charlemagne's court. A phoenix is a mythical fire bird that lives for a really long time and is generally associated with resurrection.
Step two, the fight. A Paladin might have sword-fighty moves, but the phoenix has fire, and magic (and Dumbledore). The phoenix also may or may not be able to die. I'm saying it can, otherwise this would be a really stupid exercise, but I think this battle ends with a Paladin being cooked in his armor.
San Diego Toreros at Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
The only human vs human matchup of the first round, this one pits a bullfighter against a lumberjack. Because this is a Northern Arizona Lumberjack and not your standard issue, this battle would take place in the Ponderosa Pine forests of Flagstaff. Doesn't really add anything to this fight, but I wanted to bring it up.
The fact that it's taking place in a forest is significant, though. Depending on how close together the trees are and how much undergrowth there is, there's definite potential for the Toreros' cape to get caught and for his or her mobility to become severely encumbered.
The bottom line is that a torero is used to killing bulls and the lumberjack is used to killing trees. Only one of those things fights back immediately (trees are playing the long game). Therefore, toreros should be better at fighting.
Stony Brook Seawolves at James Madison Dukes
James Madison is named the Dukes because of a university president, but that isn't as fun as their mascot, and I get to make the rules, so we're going with the JMU bulldog instead.
Admittedly, the Bulldog's living room/dog park home field advantage presents some challenges for the Seawolf, but bulldogs are so garbage at fighting that it really doesn't matter.
Side note: Founding father James Madison would also lose to a Seawolf.
Western Illinois Leathernecks at Southern Utah Thunderbirds
I find it hard to imagine a Marine being able to compete with a mythical Native American beast that can shoot lightning out of its claws and produce thunder with its wings. Marines are good, but not that good.
Northern Iowa Panthers at South Dakota State Jackrabbits
The only potential problem I see here for the panther is managing to catch the jackrabbit in the first place. Once it was in the Panther's grasp, all you end up with is a specific kind of stew.
You'd like to believe the jackrabbit could use its quickness to its advantage, but they lack the strength to inflict any actual damage on the panther. Their only slim hope would be to use their surroundings. Jackrabbits exist pretty much everywhere, so they could try to lure the panther off a cliff, or choose to have the battle in the desert and starve/thirst the panther out.
I find those things to be unlikely.
Central Connecticut State Blue Devils at Central Arkansas Bears
Again, I'm not completely sure how to think about a blue devil, but what I do know is that bears are nothing to mess with. They're tough, they don't have souls and can't be manipulated with devilish trickery, and they won Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar.
Therefore, I have no doubt that a bear would rip the blue right off of this devil. The fact that the UCA bear is purple makes it even more difficult because the devil wouldn't know whether to fight back (black bear procedure) or play dead (grizzly bear procedure).
Kennesaw State Owls at Jacksonville State Gamecocks
The most basic thing to say about this matchup is that a gamecock is trained to fight and an owl is not. Throw in the fact that this would take place in broad daylight in some sort of coop or barnyard, and you have the owl's chances looking rather slim.
At the end of the day, this really comes down to home field advantage. If the gamecock had to fight in the woods at night, I'd give it to the owl, but that's not how this game is played. Game(cock), set, match.
Nicholls Colonels at Sam Houston State Bearkats
While there are some real animals that could be bearcats, the SHSU bearkat is a combination of the fighting skills of a bear and a tiger. The article may be from 2004, but it's on the SHSU website, so it's canon. That's pretty tough to beat for a simple colonel.
I'm not sure what the natural habitat of this creature would be. Probably a zoo. In any case, even on the colonel's home farm, the bearkat is unbeatable.
Elon Phoenix at Wofford Terriers
A small dog against a magical fire bird? I think you know how this ends. Phoenix. Sharpie.
San Diego Toreros at North Dakota State Bison
It's a toreros job to fight bulls, which are trained and riled up to be pissed off at the person trying to fight them. Bison are just out here minding their own business.
If you can handle an extremely angry bull, you can handle a slightly indifferent bison.
Stony Brook Seawolves at Southern Utah Thunderbirds
This, I'm afraid, is where the seawolves Cinderella run is destined to come to an end. I'm sorry, but the lightning out of talons thing is a lot to overcome, especially when the seawolf in question is in, well, the sea.
It's a notoriously stupid idea to hang out in bodies of water during a thunder storm, so the seawolf is kinda stuck. This confluence of events means the t-birds are heading to the semifinals.
Northern Iowa Panthers at Central Arkansas Bears
Here's a matchup that could actually happen in real life, though panthers and bears don't really live in the same place. It doesn't involve any mythical creatures, at least.
This was a tough one for me. They're both vicious predators who know how to take care of business, but the bear's raw strength would be tough for the panther to overcome.
Sam Houston State Bearkats at Jacksonville State Gamecocks
This one was pretty easy for me. Even though it's bred to be a fighter, at the end of the day, a gamecock is still a chicken, and chickens don't really stand a chance against a bear/tiger hybrid.
San Diego Toreros at Elon Phoenix
Sadly, I think this is where the last human's tourney run ends. Bullfighters definitely have skills, but they're mostly restricted to surviving ground based attacks. The introduction of an air force to the proceedings would significantly hamstring our torero.
Maybe next year they'll be reborn from the ashes and get to face land-based animals only.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Central Arkansas Bears
What we have here are the makings of a legendary story…if it weren't for the whole lightning thing. I know I keep coming back to it, and it isn't very original, but attacking the enemy without getting within their pawspan is a key skill in this league.
Would it make it better if I recycled the worst line from X-Men and asked you what happens when a bear gets struck by lightning? No?
For the record, it's the same thing as everything else.
Elon Phoenix at Sam Houston State Bearkat
This is honestly the hardest decision I had to make. I was going back and forth, I was stress eating Kit Kats, mostly because they're delicious but also because of the stress. It was bad, you guys.
Neither of these creatures actually exist, but I just feel like the magic makes all the difference. Plus, it makes for a much more interesting final battle between two magical birds, so that's fun.
Elon Phoenix vs Southern Utah Thunderbirds
The actual FCS championship takes place in a neutral location, so this needs to as well. There are two paths to walk on this: the Frisco, Texas of mythical bird battling zones, or the location that would be the most fun.
I'm going to stick with option the second and pick the planet Pandora from the movie Avatar. You remember Avatar, right? The movie you saw once in 2009 and never thought about again. If you don't remember or haven't seen it, it's a magical rainforest type thing with floating islands in the sky, where winged beasts can move around with stealth and purpose.
Honestly, this would be a battle of epic proportions, as any championship game should be. I see the thunderbird on the attack, with the phoenix doing its best to dodge the lightning in a glorious shower of flames.
It would take a while, but I think the thunderbird's better offensive game would wear down the phoenix eventually. It's hard to play offense when you're constantly on defense.