Despite a litany of Wildcats, Bulldogs, Eagles and Tigers, the world of college nicknames used to be one full of obscurity, originality and–awesomeness. Throughout the hundred-plus years of college athletics, we have been afforded many nicknames that have stood the test of time. Here are 10 of the most incredible former nicknames in FBS college football history.
Virginia Tech Fighting Gobblers
Adopted in the 1920s, the Gobblers origin is disputed. What is not debatable is local resident Floyd Meade parading a turkey around and actually training the bird to gobble on command. What's not to like about a trained turkey? Not much. Sports writers and fans grew to love the trained turkey and Virginia Tech was the Gobblers. That is until the late 1970s, when a grinch of a man–whose name is not worthy of recognition–changed it to the Hokies.
Ball State Hoosieroons
Your guess is as good as any, but the most logical explanation is that Hoosieroon is either a more elegant way of saying Hoosier or the descendant of a Hoosier. Either way you slice it, a Hoosieroon gives us a glimpse at a time long since passed.
It is very difficult to understand why an institution of higher learning would choose a mascot defined as "skilled, experienced, and respected political leader or figure." It also makes sense why the nickname only lasted a year before it yielded to the mighty Husky.
The retired mascot looks like a troll who got caught up in the crack epidemic of the 80s. The Sunblazers was a winning entry in the University's Nickname Committee. A combination of Suns and Trailblazers, the Sunblazers are all that is right in the world, and one can only hope it finds its way back into the FBS landscape very soon.
Arkansas State Gorillas
You know how many FBS teams are nicknamed the Gorillas? None. As to why Arkansas State changed is anyone's guess. What is not questionable is Arkansas State's decision is all of our losses. The Red Wolves is a fine alternative, honoring an endangered animal native to the southeast. Let's keep it real, however, if trapped in a steel cage, a Gorilla is disposing of a Red Wolf quite quickly. We'll always have Pittsburgh State, I guess.
Texas Tech Matadors
Texas Tech started college football as the Matadors because the wife of the first football coach bestowed it upon them in reverence to the Spanish Renaissance architecture on campus. Only to be disrespected 12 years later in 1937 by a sportswriter enthralled by their bright red uniforms. Imagine the gall to have no affiliation with a school and just decide Texas Tech is now the Red Raiders. Two years later, Dorothy put on those red sparkly shoes and there was no turning back in Lubbock.
It may seem silly now to label oneself the Sundodgers, but answer this; How awesome would you feel and be, if you could dodge the sun? Outside of being a vampire–who is practically immortal–name something more powerful, more elusive, more cunning than someone who can dodge the sun. Hint: You can't.
Nebraska Bug Eaters
Bring this back RIGHT NOW!
Labeled the Webfoots for being able to gain a home-field advantage on a soggy pitch in Eugene, Oregon, wouldn't you like to have been a fly on the wall when they finally decided to become the Ducks.
Stanley: Ummm…so we're literally a foot. Not to mention we're Webfoots, that's not even proper English. And it is not even a human foot, but a webbed foot, like an amphibious creature. Does that bother anyone?
Clarence: You got anything better…Stanley!?
Clarence: I could see that.
So maybe not as interesting as one would have hoped.
The Rainbows got their nickname because a sportswriter saw a rainbow come across the sky as Hawaii clinched a football victory. It doesn't get more poetic than that. Unfortunately, homophobia won out in the end, and all we're left with is a throwback jersey every once in a while to delight our hearts with joy and the effervescence of life.