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In accordance with Sport Change’s authoritative, immutable rules regarding sports team nicknames, here is the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball bracket.

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If you’re new to the site, click on the NCAA tab (above) to view our comprehensive Division I moniker study.  For the top 100 moniker list, click here.

Essentially, we could simply rank every moniker in D-I, and then fill out the bracket in a formulaic fashion.  Two reasons why we’re doing the old fashioned way: 1.) This is basketball specific.  2.) It’s more fun this way.  Let’s just get right into it.

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ROUND 1 (play-in round)

North Carolina A&T Aggies vs. Liberty Flames.  This one is fairly easy.  Aggies is overused in D-I, and doesn’t earn any points from being attached to NC A&T.  Though ‘Flames’ is kind of a lame name (*cough Calgary cough*) Liberty at least makes clever use of it.  Victor: Flames

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. St. Mary’s Gaels.  As enticing as the color blue is, I do not understand the concept of taking ‘Raiders’ and coloring them; a la Texas Tech Red Raiders.  Though I consider them the lesser of the two Gael, we’ll give St. Mary’s the win here.  After all, selection Sunday was St. Patrick’s day this year.  Victor: Gaels.

Boise State Broncos vs. La Salle Explorers.  Boise State makes good use of Broncos, but Denver owns that nickname.  In the Sport Change top 100, La Salle ranked 32nd overall in D-I.  A no brainer.  Victor: Explorers.

LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds vs. James Madison Dukes.  Though I do like ‘Dukes’ as a moniker, this would only be a contest if it were the Duquesne Dukes, not the “bulldog” Dukes.  LIU-Brooklyn has a unique and excellent moniker that works at any level of play.  Victor: Blackbirds.

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This year’s dark horse is a dark bird.

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ROUND 2

MIDWEST

Louisville Cardinals vs. Liberty Flames.  Though ‘Cardinals’ is about as overused as it gets, Louisville is second only to St. Louis in ownership of that moniker.  Liberty flames out quickly here.  Victor: Cardinals.

Colorado St. Rams vs. Missouri Tigers.  Oh, boy.  If only there were a moniker seeding system.  Both of these nicknames are pro-type monikers that are very overused.  Of the two, ‘Tigers’ is the one that you can’t throw a stick without hitting.  It’ll come up again, so we’ll give CSU the nod here.  Victor: Rams.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Oregon Ducks.  Quack.  Enough said.  Victor: Ducks.

Saint Louis Billikens vs. New Mexico State Aggies.  Another Aggie that has no chance.  Saint Louis has a moniker that personifies the fun and whimsy of the collegiate level.  Victor: Billikens.

Memphis Tigers vs. St. Mary’s Gaels.  Apples and oranges here.  Since there is another Gael in the tournament, we’ll let Memphis advance to represent striped felines everywhere.  Victor: Tigers.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Valparaiso Crusaders.  Two armored historic figures square off in round 2.  Though MSU owns the Spartans nickname, Valpo benefits from the pleasing sound that Valparaiso and Crusaders make when placed together.  Victor: Crusaders.

Creighton Blue Jays vs. Cincinnati Bearcats.  This is a tough one to call.  Creighton does a great job with color-coordination, and the bird is ubiquitous enough that Toronto can’t quite claim full ownership of it.  Cincinnati certainly owns ‘Bearcats,’ which needs to mentioned considering that there are a whopping three Bearcats/Bearkats in D-I.  It’s always been a bit of an oddball moniker anyway, so we’ll say that Creighton wins by a beak.  Victor: Blue Jays.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Albany Great Danes.  No contest.  Bow wow.  Victor: Great Danes.

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Great Danes: eating Blue Devils for breakfast.

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WEST

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Southern Jaguars.  Here’s an interesting matchup between two very overused monikers.  I’ve always felt that Gonzaga should have a more interesting moniker than they do, so we’ll give Southern the edge.  Victor: Jaguars.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wichita State Shockers.  Tough to compare the two: one elicits respect and power while the other incites giggles and guffaws.  The choice is easy.  Victor: Panthers.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ole Miss Rebels.  One is a state nickname moniker that also happens to be a fierce and funny creature.  The other is a cringe-worthy reminder of the Civil War.  Victor: Badgers.

Kansas State Wildcats vs. La Salle Explorers.  Not a tough decision at all.  La Salle, the round one play-in, sails forward.  Victor: Explorers.

Arizona Wildcats vs. Belmont Bruins.  Here’s a kitty that has earned it’s stripes going tooth-to-tooth with a lesser-known bear of the brown variety.  Victor: Wildcats.

New Mexico Lobos vs. Harvard Crimson.  I love this culture-collision match-up: Albuquerque vs. Cambridge.  The only thing that’s crimson is the blood on the ivy after the wolves take care of business.  Victor: Lobos.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Iowa State Cyclones.  Though Notre Dame has it’s fans, Iowa State has claimed ownership on an underappreciated moniker.  Victor: Cyclones.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Iona Gaels.  Though OSU has a fun state nickname, Iona is the representative  of the St. Patrick’s selection Sunday.  Victor: Gaels.

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Selection Sunday was on St. Patrick’s Day this year. That’s gotta be lucky for the Gaels.

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SOUTH

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.  WKU is a snoozer, so KU cruises with their weird bird.  Victor: Jayhawks.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Villanova Wildcats.  Another bland wild cat is stepped on by a unique, historically-relevant moniker.  Victor: Tar Heels.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Akron Zips.  We’ve already advanced a ram, so it makes it all the easier to go with the kangaroo.  Victor: Zips.

Michigan Wolverines vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits.  This is an unfortunate seeding.  The bunnies should advance much further, but they are bitten in the neck by a ferocious and historic nickname.  Victor: Wolverines.

UCLA Bruins vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Though UCLA shares respectable ownership with Boston, I’m just not a fan of the nickname.  Minnesota, goofy as it may be, has a more unique nickname.  Victor: Golden Gophers.

Florida Gators vs. Northwestern State Demons.  It would be nice to advance good ol’ just ‘Demons,’ but Florida is too good.  Victor: Gators.

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Oklahoma Sooners.  Not really a contest.  Though some find it offensive, SD St. has a pretty cool nickname.  Victor: Aztecs.

Georgetown Hoyas vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.  Ugh.  Uneven seeding strikes again.  I guess we’ll go with Georgetown.  Victor: Hoyas.

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For the record, a ‘hoya’ is not a bulldog. Georgetown advances due to uneven seeding.

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EAST

Indiana Hoosiers vs. LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds.  Take these broken wings and learn to fly…past bland Indiana.  Victor: Blackbirds.

NC State Wolfpack vs. Temple Owls.  Wolfpack ain’t bad, as far as non-pluralable nicknames go.  It doesn’t matter when matched up against the moniker that was ranked 5th overall in D-I.  Victor: Owls.

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. Cal Golden Bears.  Las Vegas has the bizarrely misplaced Southern gentleman, while Berkeley has the big animal from their state flag.  Victor: Golden Bears.

Syracuse Orange vs. Montana Grizzlies.  This is like comparing oranges with…things that could eat oranges if they were so inclined.  Montana is about as good as it gets.  Victor: Grizzlies.

Butler Bulldogs vs. Bucknell Bison.  Wow for alliteration!  Butler makes as good of a case for representing the whole kennel of canines in D-I, but I’ve got to go with Bucknell.  Victor: Bison.

Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Davidson Wildcats.  Too many wild cats, not enough mics.  Victor: Golden Eagles.

Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Colorado Buffaloes.  A nickname considered offensive vs. a badass beast of the prairie.  Victor: Buffaloes.

Miami Hurricanes vs. Pacific Tigers.  We’ve already advanced a tiger, so we’ll go with the weather phenomenon.  Victor: Hurricanes.

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The storks live to fight another day.

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ROUND 3

Louisville Cardinals vs. Colorado State Rams.  Here’s another one of those “pro-team moniker” matchups.  Louisville might not deserve the Sweet 16, but seedings aren’t based on team nicknames.  Victor: Cardinals.

Oregon Ducks vs. Saint Louis Billikens.  Toughie.  Both are very solid, and the Billikens are a perennial March Madness favorite.  That said, Oregon is quackers.  Victor: Ducks.

Memphis Tigers vs. Valparaiso Crusaders.  Neither one should scratch the Sweet 16, but Valpo is the clear winner here.  Victor: Crusaders.

Creighton Blue Jays vs. Albany Great Danes.  On the animal side of things, Albany barks the birds back up the tree.  Victor: Great Danes.

Southern Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Panthers.  Battle of the Cats!  Alliteration is a definite plus, and this isn’t much of a cat fight.  Victor: Panthers.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. La Salle Explorers.  Two very solid monikers go head to head, but we’ll give Wisco the nod based on the ferocity factor.  Victor: Badgers.

Arizona Wildcats vs. New Mexico Lobos.  I love it–Arizona and New Mexico should be going head to head.  It’s the border battle!  Cats vs. Dogs!  I look forward to watching this game actually transpire.  In the moniker world, UNM takes the cake.  Victor: Lobos

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Iona Gaels.  Iowa vs. Iona.  Say it ten times fast.  ISU represents the forces of nature.  Victor: Cyclones.

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Just like Miami–I’m not sure I get the whole ‘bird=weather phenomena’ concept.

Kansas Jayhawks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels.  An epic matchup of popular teams with weird, vaguely-historic nicknames.  UNC’s is more creative.  Victor: Tar Heels.

Akron Zips vs. Michigan Wolverines.  Zips is pure fun, but the gimmick pales in comparison to a historically relevant giant weasel.  Victor: Wolverines.

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Florida Gators.  That is a hilarious visual.  Chomp, crunch, gopher for lunch.  Victor: Gators.

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Georgetown Hoyas.  A potentially offensive nickname against a perplexing fight song remnant.  Must be college.  Potentially implies speculation.  Victor: Aztecs.

LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds vs. Temple Owls.  Awesome!  The battle of the birds.  This could’ve happened in later rounds, but flight paths crossed early.  It’s a toughie, but Temple has been making brackets fun for kids for decades.  Victor: Owls.

Cal Golden Bears vs. Montana Grizzlies.  I love it!  The Brown Bear Bowl.  Montana gets the upper paw here by making a more specific reference.  Victor: Grizzlies.

Bucknell Bison vs. Marquette Golden Eagles.  As cool as anything sounds with the word ‘golden’ in front of it, Marquette’s moniker is overused and generic.  Victor: Bison.

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Miami Hurricanes.  Apples and oranges, but the answer is clear.  Especially when glancing ahead at the matchup in the next round.  Victor: Buffaloes.

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Bring on the Buffabowl!

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THE SWEET SIXTEEN

The teams:  Louisville Cardinals, Oregon Ducks, Valparaiso Crusaders, Albany Great Danes, Pittsburgh Panthers, Wisconsin Badgers, New Mexico Lobos, Iowa State Cyclones, North Carolina Tar Heels, Michigan Wolverines, Florida Gators, San Diego State Aztecs, Temple Owls, Montana Grizzlies, Bucknell Bison, Colorado Buffaloes

It’s important to remember here that these are not the top 16 monikers in the tournament.  It’s a good list, but without thinking too much about it, I’d sub in Billikens, Blackbirds, and Explorers for Cardinals, Crusaders, and Bison.  

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The Billikens should be here. Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t seed based on strength of moniker.

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Anyhow, here are the Sweet Sixteen match-ups:

Louisville Cardinals vs. Oregon Ducks.  Where do these teams stand in the pecking order?  Waterfowl prevail in the Big Bowl.  Victor: Ducks.

Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Albany Great Danes.  It’s hard to believe that Albany has lasted this long.  In a world of Terriers, Retrievers, Greyhounds, and Salukis; we have one lone domesticated dog that has cruised through favorable seeding.  Victor: Great Danes.

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wisconsin Badgers.  Intense.  As respectable as Pitt is, their moniker is fairly generic and overused.  Victor: Badgers.

New Mexico Lobos vs. Iowa State Cyclones.  In the words of the band Los Lobos: “Will the wolf survive?”  Yes.  Victor: Lobos.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Michigan Wolverines.  Another epic moniker duel of nicknames that refer to scrappy folks of bygone eras.  Pretty easy to make this choice, though.  Victor: Wolverines.

Florida Gators vs. San Diego State Aztecs.  I’m starting to realize that I have a major thing for animal nicknames.  Victor: Gators.

Temple Owls vs. Montana Grizzlies.  The War of the Woods concludes with the raptor sinking it’s talons into the bear’s eyes.   Victor: Owls.

Bucknell Bison vs. Colorado Buffaloes.  The Buffabowl!  Non-singularable/non-pluralable nicknames are lame, so Colorado thunder on down the prairie.  Victor: Buffaloes.

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And the Buffabowl goes to…*drumroll*……the Buffaloes!

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THE ELITE EIGHT

Ducks.  Great Danes.  Badgers.  Lobos.  Wolverines.  Gators.  Owls.  Buffaloes.  I’ve missed my calling–I should’ve been a veterinarian.

Oregon Ducks vs. Albany Great Danes.  The duck will quack and the dane will have it’s day.  Not today, though.  Victor: Ducks.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico Lobos.  They battle tooth and nail, but a quirky linguistic reference puts the wolf on top.  That, and the Badgers always have football to fall back on.  Victor: Lobos.

Temple Owls vs. Colorado Buffaloes.  Give a hoot.  Victor: Owls.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators.  Worthy opponents, but never bet against a determined reptile.  Victor: Gators.

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Do the Gators have enough teeth to advance?

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THE FINAL FOUR!

Oregon Ducks, New Mexico Lobos, Florida Gators, Temple Owls.  Let’s do this.

Florida Gators vs. Temple Owls.  Think John Chaney.  Victor: Owls.

Oregon Ducks vs. New Mexico Lobos.  Teeth sink in; one last muffled quack.  Victor: Lobos.

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Loco for the Lobos.

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

New Mexico Lobos vs. Temple Owls.  Something about Temple just screams March Madness.  Since filling out my first brackets as a kid, I’ve been picking Temple to advance well beyond their means year after year.  If there can be no Drexel Dragons or Maryland Terrapins, the answer is easy.  CHAMPION: Temple Owls.

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How could it not be the Owls?

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Alright–mission accomplished.  If I were more tech savvy, there would be a cool bracket to look at with the logos in place of the college name.  Until I get hired by Grantland, this will have to suffice.  It will interesting to see if any of these moniker matchups will actually happen in any rounds deeper than round 3.  It would also be fun to do the same exercise with the women’s bracket and the NIT.  For the record, Maryland would probably win both.  I’ll stick with the goal of releasing the Ideal NBA and D-League within the next two weeks, so keep checking back, dear readers.

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IN OTHER NEWS: It appears that the new Miami Dolphins logo will indeed be the one that leaked a few months back, with a few minor alterations.  Eyes are added to the new version, which is de-fin-itely a good thing.  Sport Change has already weighed in on this, so there’s not much else to say.  Get ready to see Mike Wallace with a horizontal swimming cetacean on his head!

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SPORT CHANGE

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Now that the Combine is over and Sport Change’s football February is nearly over, the time is ripe for a fun little exercise: the territorial mock draft.

2011 NFL Draft

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Background

For a full explanation of what is meant by “territorial draft picks,” please click on this link for a description.  To sum it up and to put it in context for this post, the basic premise is NFL teams having one special round prior to the draft in which they can pick players based on holding the territorial rights to players who played college ball in the NFL team’s geographical region.  The NBA once had a system like this, and that was the reason that the great Oscar Robertson went directly from the Cincinnati Bearcats to the Cincinnati Royals.  For this exercise, Sport Change will first clearly delineate territorial borders and then present the 2013 NFL Draft Territorial Round.  Enjoy!

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Will Ryan Nassib follow Doug Marrone from ‘Cuse to Buffalo?

Territories

Though some territorial rights are obvious (Colorado U and the Broncos, for instance) others are more nebulous.  Generally speaking, it means rights to teams within that state, nearby region if necessary, and (in a few cases) out of state; but within 100 miles and culturally relevant.  Let’s go though each team’s territorial claim:

Arizona Cardinals: all schools within the state
Atlanta Falcons: all schools within Georgia
Baltimore Ravens: all schools in Maryland
Buffalo Bills: schools in western or “upstate” New York
Carolina Panthers: both North and South Carolina
Chicago Bears: all of Illinois, plus Notre Dame
Cincinnati Bengals: partial rights to Ohio State, plus the Bearcats, Bobcats, and Miami of Ohio.
Cleveland Browns: partial rights to OSU, plus Kent State, Toledo, and Youngstown
Dallas Cowboys: Baylor, Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, and shared rights to UT
Denver Broncos: all in Colorado
Detroit Lions: all in Michigan
Green Bay Packers: all in Wisconsin
Houston Texans: Texas A&M and shared rights to UT
Indianapolis Colts: all of Indiana except Notre Dame
Jacksonville Jaguars: we’ll give them the Gators
Kansas City Chiefs: they get Kansas State and Kansas
Miami Dolphins: the U, of course, but also Florida International
Minnesota Vikings: no strong college teams in the state, so they get all of Iowa
New England Patriots: Boston College, and shared rights to Uconn
New Orleans Saints: all of Louisiana
New York Giants: shared rights to Rutgers and Uconn
New York Jets: Rutgers (what else is there?)
Oakland Raiders: they get the Cal Bears and shared rights to San Jose State
Philadelphia Eagles: few prospects from Temple this year, so Philly gets Penn State
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pitt, of course, but also nearby West Virginia U.
St. Louis Rams: they get Mizzou
San Diego Chargers: San Diego State is theirs
San Francisco 49ers: Stanford is theirs, plus shared rights to San Jose State
Seattle Seahawks: all of Washington
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: they get Florida State and Southern Florida
Tennessee Titans: all in Tennessee
Washington Redskins: all in Virginia

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Disputed Territories

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In the end, we had to share the Buckeyes.

Some of the territorial claims were subjective choices based somewhat on this year’s crop of players in an effort to spread the wealth just a little.  The state of Florida was a bit of a logjam, but we gave Tampa rights to FSU, despite Jacksonville being closer.  The Jags are happy with the Gators, anyway.  With Rutgers the only legitimate program anywhere near NYC, rights were shared with the Giants and Jets.  While doing research for a previous Sport Change article, I discovered that football allegiances in Hartford, Connecticut are basically 50/50 Giants/Patriots.  As such, both teams have equal rights to Uconn.  The Patriots also get Boston College, but that means little this year.  In Ohio, the only fair thing to do was to give access to OSU to both the Bengals and Browns, with smaller programs going to the nearest city.  In Texas, we’ve split most schools between Dallas and Houston, but both have equal rights to the Longhorns.  Notre Dame is closer to Chicago than Indy, both geographically and culturally.  As such, the Bears get the Irish.  Missouri basically came down to giving KSU to the Chiefs and Mizzou to the Rams.  The Bay Area teams simply get the Pac-10 program slightly closer to them: Stanford to the Niners and Cal to the Raiders.  Regions with essentially no prospects to speak of (Minnesota, DC) claim states that are nearby and culturally similar.

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The Vast Unclaimed Void

Alas, great swaths of American soil produce terrific footballers with no pro team in the vicinity.  Alabama probably has the strongest draft class this year, but none of their players are eligible here. So that means no Warmack, Milliner, Fluker, Lacy, Jones, or Williams.  As long as there is no NFL team in LA, there will be no picks from USC or UCLA.  Call it a protest until a team lands there–apologies to Matt Barkley.  Defensive beasts like Dion Jordon (Oregon), Star Lotulelei (Utah), and Ezekiel Ansah (Brigham Young) are in no-man’s-land.

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Ezekiel Ansah: from Ghana to no-man’s-land, at least in terms of NFL presence.

Depth and Disparity

Disparity in college football is getting more and more stark, with a handful of SEC and Pac-12 teams basically duking it out each year.  Each new signing day only reaffirms the dominance of a program like Alabama, and the trend is disconcerting.  In our territorial mock draft, some NFL teams are going to blessed with several talented players to choose from, while others have to reach for somebody…anybody.  As such, stars like Damontre Moore (A&M), Kevin Minter (LSU), Tavon Austin (WVU), and Alex Ogletree (Georgia) don’t make the cut.  

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Territoral Mock Trades and Free Agency

I’m not going to go into too much depth here, but this game can also be played with impending free agents and players likely to be traded.  I was elated to hear that Alex Smith is a Chief, for instance.  It’s not like KC and Utah are next-door-neighbors, but the Utes and Chiefs have similar colors and logos, and that pleases me.  Darrelle Revis may be leaving the Jets, and if he does, the former Pitt Panther and Aliquippa, PA native should suit up in the black & gold.  If the Cardinals need a quarterback, they should trade for former Arizona Wildcat Nick Foles.  Foles has a strong arm and could get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.  The Cardinals send Kevin Kolb and draft picks to the Eagles.  If I was getting really cheeky, I’d say Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is thrown in with Foles and sent back to the desert.  Speaking of DRC, the Bradenton, Florida native should be picking off passes for the Buccaneers.  While we’re in the Sunshine State, Dwayne Bowe goes home to Miami to catch passes for the Dolphins while partying with another Dwyane/Dwayne…that being Mr. Wade.   I could do a whole post about this, but I’m not going to.

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Alex Smith in a Chiefs jersey…. psyche!

Absurdity

Yes, this is utterly ridiculous and you should know that before you read on.  The disparity between regional programs is significant, and that’s why the NBA dropped the territorial draft about 50 years ago.  This is simply a fun way to get to know the new group of future NFL players, and it’s a bit of a joke.  That said, all mock drafts are jokes.  I did my first mock draft back in about 1998, when you had to ask Jeeves what his draft predictions were.  Most mock drafts then and now are nearly identical, and most mockers are timid to venture too far from the status quo/Mel Kiper.  Of course, every year there are early trades that throw everything off course.  Every year somebody grabs a Bruce Irwin or a Tyson Alualu.  Every year teams reach for QBs (don’t be surprised if Barkley is a first-rounder) or freak out when their target running back is picked, and end up with David Wilson.  In short, every year mock drafts are a mockery once the draft actually happens.  With that in mind, let’s get wacky:

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2013 NFL DRAFT: TERRITORIAL ROUND

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A Wildcat is a wildcard at the top of the territorial round.

1. Kansas City Chiefs select Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State.  With few top prospects available from colleges in west Missouri or Kansas, the Chiefs pick the best player on the board, who moves in next to Derrick Johnson and becomes a part of one of the best linebacking corps in the league.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars select Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida.  The Jags fill a glaring need while taking a top player near the top of the draft.  Sometimes it just works out for Jacksonville fans.

3. Oakland Raiders select Keenan Allen, WR, Cal.  Top wide receivers are always welcome, and Allen gives Carson Palmer another target to miss.

4. Philadelphia Eagles select Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State.  Philly really has to reach for a player in their area, but the Eagles need a tackle after releasing Cullen Jenkins.

5. Detroit Lions select Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan.  It may not be their most glaring need, but Fisher is a top prospect who would theoretically take the reins from Jeff Backus.

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Jeff Backus, meet your replacement.

6. Cleveland Browns select John Simon, DE, Ohio State.  Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins may be more of a blue-chipper, but the Browns choose to shore up their pass rush with another Buckeye.

7. Arizona Cardinals select Matt Scott, QB, Arizona.  He may not be Matt Barkley, but it’s not like there a ton of options coming out of the desert this year.  Scott may be the only Arizonan drafted this year.

8. Buffalo Bills select Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse.  This is too easy considering that the Bills need a QB, and new head coach Doug Marrone coached Nassib at Syracuse.  Too easy.

9. New York Jets select Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers.  This is a tough choice between Greene and Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan, and that’s not just because the Jets have green uniforms and a coach named Ryan.  Greene is the choice because the Jets desperately need new blood in the pass rush game, with the Pace/Scott dynamic a distant memory.  Also, Darrelle Revis is still on the team as of this writing.  K. Greene stuffing S. Greene in the backfield during training camp would make a good photo.

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Khaseem Greene would look great in green.

10. Tennessee Titans select Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee.  Jake Locker is still the future, so the Titans give him another weapon rather than replacing him with Tyler Bray.

11. San Diego Chargers select Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego St.   San Diego may look longingly north at this year’s Trojan and Bruin offerings, but they keep it local and draft Antonio Gates’s complement and eventual replacement.

12. Miami Dolphins select Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International.  It’s hard to believe that nobody from the U was worthy this year, but the ‘Phins get a blue-chip safety to bolster an already tough defensive unit.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State.  Florida State has a terrific class this year, and the Bucs pass on pass-rusher Bjoern Werner and pass-heaver E.J. Manuel.  Tampa has the worst cornerbacking situation in the league, and Xavier Rhodes is a solid pick to tandem with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  (see Territoral Mock Trades and Free Agency, above.)

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You can bet that the Bucs would be pleased to have Xavier Rhodes in their secondary.

14. Carolina Panthers select Jonathan Cooper, OL, UNC.  It’s a choice between Cooper and fellow Tar Heel Sylvester Williams, a defensive tackle.  Cooper is the clear winner in a unit without Jeff Otah and with an aging Jordan Gross.  As a side note, there are a ridiculous amount of Jonathans and Johnthans in this draft.  Yikes.

15. New Orleans Saints select Barkevious Mingo, Passrusher, LSU.  The Tigers have yet another strong class, and the Saints are pleased to meet a need effectively.  This is one pick that could actually happen in April–the Saints say ‘bingo’ when they see Mingo.  The Honey Badger sheds a single tear and lights up a joint.

16. St. Louis Rams select Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri.  Richardson would perhaps line up next to Michael Brockers in the 4-3 to form the core of the Rams’ defense of the future.  Jeff Fisher’s mustache twitches with delight.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers select Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia.  Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin is tempting, but let’s assume that Mike Wallace is resigned and the Steelers opt for Big Ben’s backup and eventual replacement.

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Geno Smith: from grey & gold to black & gold.

18. Dallas Cowboys select Margus Hunt, DE, Southern Methodist.  Hunt, a beast-of-the-combine, stays in the metroplex and bookends DeMarcus Ware.  Something about a pass rusher named Hunt is scary.

 19. New York Giants select Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut.  A tough decision between Moore and Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan.  In the end, the Giants fans just wouldn’t be able to accept anyone with the last name of Ryan.  That, and linebacker is a slightly more (Moore) glaring need for Big Blue.

20. Chicago Bears select Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame.  This is a very tough choice between “The Full Manti” and tight end Tyler Eifert.  Both positions are needs, but Te’o is selected as Urlacher’s eventual replacement.  Sure, he’s gullible enough to believe his crazy cousin.  Sure, he had a rough combine.  But does anybody remember how dominant he was on the gridiron last year?

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Don’t forget: Manti Te’o is a beast…or should I say Bear?

21. Cincinnati Bengals select Johnathan Hankins, DT, OSU.  Hankins projects as a nose tackle, and the Bengals play a 4-3 already flush with talent.  That said, Hankins is a top prospect and DTs tend to get injured.  A solid pick for a rotation that already features Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Devon Still, and Brandon Thompson.

22. Washington Re****ns select B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary.  The Washington football team traded their actual first round pick to the Rams for the chance at RGIII, so they’re lucky for the territorial round.  We’ve given the whole state of Virginia to the Washington football team, but the choice is a tough one.  Offensive lineman Oday Aboushi of Virginia U fits a need, while similarly ranked cornerback Webb does as well.  Aboushi has been sliding down the draft boards, so we’ll continue to see Tyler Polumbus give up sacks and we’ll go with the cornerback.  Something seems lucky about a CB from W&M named B.W. Webb.

23. Minnesota Vikings select A.J. Klein, ILB, Iowa State.  The Golden Gophers have a terrible football program, so there is no decent college player in the entire state.  Iowa, the neighbor to the south, has plenty.  We’ll go with a linebacker named A.J. to fill the void left by E.J. and the other Henderson brother.

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The Vikings have to look south of the border to get their guy.

24. Indianapolis Colts select Kawann Short, DT, Purdue.  Indy needs help on defense, and Lafayette delivers.  For the record, he’s listed at 6’3″–about average height for a tackle.  More like Kawann Averageheight.

25. Seattle Seahawks select Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington.  Yes, the Seahawks do not have a glaring need for a cornerback, but Marcus’s little brother is really the only option this year, and he’s darn good to boot.  Doesn’t hurt to have another good cornerback….there’s nickel defenses, injuries, and the chance that Richard Sherman will go off the deep end.  By that, I mean shave a stripe in his head, change his name to Dick Dos Cinco, and wear a 49ers helmet during a game just to mess with people.  Trufant it is!

26. Green Bay Packers select Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin.  This is a tough call between Frederick and fan-favorite Montee Ball.  Both positions are weaknesses on the Packers, but it’s hard to imagine Ball being significantly better than James Starks, Ryan Grant, DuJuan Harris, or any of the other mediocre backs that the Pack have trotted out in recent years.  The most gaping void on the team is at center, where recently-retired retread Jeff Saturday filled in last year.  Frederick squeezes his 312 pounds in front of Aaron Rodgers and fills that void.

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A lumberjack beard to go with A-Rodge’s mustache.

27. Houston Texans select Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M.  Finally, at pick 27, Joeckel comes off the board.  The Texans rejoice, as they could use an upgrade at right tackle anyway.

28. Denver Broncos select David Bahktiari, OT, Colorado.  The Broncos pick the best available player from Colorado, after kicking the tires on tight end Nick Kasa.  It’s always nice to have a full stable of O-linemen; particularly when your quarterback’s neck is worth more than the holy grail.

29. New England Patriots select Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut.  This is just a classic Bill Belichick move: reach a bit at the end of the first round for a defensive back with a weird name.  There are more highly ranked players from Uconn on the board, but Bee-Dub-Dub will become a fixture in Foxborough.  Put money on it.

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They might as well install Bee-Dub-Dub’s locker at Gillette now.

30. Atlanta Falcons select Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia.  He’s more highly ranked and has a cleaner record than Alex Ogletree, and every team loves an elite pass rusher.  The Falcons revel in SEC heaven.

31. San Francisco 49ers select Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford.  The Niners drink the tandem-TE Kool-Aid by pairing up Vernon Davis with one of the top tight ends in the draft.  Every other team in the league bites their nails.  Incidentally, why are so many tight ends named Zach?  What the hell?  When this Zach gets an injury, his teammates call to the coach, “Zach Ertz, Zach Hurts.”  (bad, bad joke)  “Have you ever had an Ertz doughnut?  *pinches arm*  “Ertz, doughnut?”

32.  Baltimore Ravens select Kenneth Tate, LB, Maryland.  The Super Bowl champs get….not too much.  It’s a lean year for Terrapin prospects.  Even if we extended the range to include Delaware, there aren’t any Blue Hens this year either.  Perhaps the blue hens are riding the terrapins across the Atlantic as we speak.  Anyway, Kenny Tate was highly touted until blowing out his knee last year. Let’s say he heals up and helps form a new Baltimore linebacking corps in the wake of Ray Lewis’s retirement.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Maryland

Kenny Tate to the champs.

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So there you have it.  In the NBA’s old draft, round one would follow the territorial round.  It would be interesting to have that now and see where all the Alabama, Texas, and Utah players go.  For now, we’ll just say “the Jaguars take Matt Barkley” and call it good.  It will also be quite fun to see if any of these territorial picks actually occur in April.  The most likely are probably Floyd to Jacksonville, Mingo to New Orleans, Frederick to Green Bay, and Te’o to Chicago–in who knows what round.  But I don’t want to get in to predicting the draft–then it won’t come true.

Thanks for reading.  If you’re looking for a legit mock draft, I recommend Walter Football, a site I’ve been following for several years.  Reports on football will now take a break for a while.  We may have to weigh in on hot topics (like the Dolphins’ new logo) but March will be focused on basketball.  There will be an Ideal NBA and D-League, as well as an NCAA moniker bracket.  Stay posted.

SPORT CHANGE

Which North American markets are second tier?

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My city is second tier, baby.

In the last Sport Change post, we revealed the rankings for the first tier of sports markets in North America–the top 30.  Now we’re taking a good look at the second tier–the next 30.  The second tier is perhaps more interesting as it reveals the general lack of viable unused pro sports markets.   The original plan was to rank the top 100 split into three tiers, but the dregs were hit just trying to fill out the top 60.

For information on what defines a sports market and our criteria for selection, please read the introduction in our previous post.

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Let’s get right into it::

31. Indianapolis.  Indy just barely missed the first tier, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to think of this market as a secondary option for pro sports.  Let’s think of them as a C+ market–just about as good as a B-.  The Colts have a promising team and a sparkly new stadium, though attendance is middling.  The Pacers have trouble filling seats as well.  That said, I think Indy is a viable pro sports market.  If not, there is always the Hoosiers.

32. Montreal.  Ignore the Expos debacle for a moment and consider this: the NHL’s Canadiens are probably the most historic, supported, and successful hockey team on Earth.  I doubt any other Big Four league will come knocking, but there’s an outside chance at a second NHL team.

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The Canadiens are synonymous with pro hockey. Just ignore that whole baseball thing.

33. Tampa Bay.  The Tampa/St. Petersburg area boasts three teams in the Big Four.  So why is it a second tier team?  For starters, the Rays and the Buccaneers are unable to fill seats despite having exciting teams.  Within a few years, it’s likely that one or the other will have relocated.  The NHL’s Lightning do better, but was putting a pro hockey team in Florida a good idea in the first place?

34. Portland.  The Trailblazers are the lone rep on the pro circuit, but they are a simply outstanding smaller market franchise that (as of this writing) draws 4th best of all NBA teams.  It remains to be seen if the state of Oregon can support another pro team, but the Oregon Ducks football team is also a powerhouse–both on the gridiron and in the ticket booth.

35. Utah.  Salt Lake City is similar to Portland in that the city only supports an NBA team in the Big Four.  The Jazz draw surprisingly well–just a shade below the Blazers.  In other athletics, the AAA minor league baseball Salt Lake Bees fill seats.  Brigham Young’s basketball and football teams also enjoy success.  That said, I think the Jazz will remain the lone Big Four rep indefinitely.

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The Spurs have earned their keep, but Texas is a bit crowded.

36. San Antonio.  San Antonio is a very large city that is often brought up in relocation/expansion talks for MLB and the NFL, despite Texas having a good foothold in pro sports.  The NBA makes it work with three successful Texan franchises, but I’m unsure about baseball or football.  Both sports are popular in Texas, but the Cowboys have a wide-reaching influence and the Astros make it clear that a team in a large Texan city can struggle.

37. Oklahoma.  The newish Thunder were extremely fortunate to begin their run in the NBA with such young talent.  We’ll see how it plays out over time.  Oklahoma is well represented on the amateur levels by the AAA RedHawks in baseball, and the Sooners and Cowboys in college athletics–particularly football.

38. Vancouver.  The Grizzlies idea took a faceplant, but the Canucks hold steady in the NHL.  Vancouver is a decent-sized city that has an appetite for sports.  The B.C. Lions are a top draw in the Canadian Football League.

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Vancouver is a fixture in the NHL, but I don’t think they’ll be in any other Big Four league after the Grizzlies debacle.

39. Columbus.  Ohio’s largest city gets ranked this high mainly due to the presence of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  The NHL’s Blue Jacket experiment hasn’t panned out very well, so Columbus will need to work hard to hold on to it’s only Big Four team.

40. San Jose.  Against all odds, the Sharks have been a staple in Californian hockey for over twenty years.  There has been talk of the Golden State Warriors relocating to San Jose, which would be essentially unnoticeable in the bigger picture of sports.  They wouldn’t even have to change their name.

41. Calgary.  The Flames are a successful NHL franchise, but that will remain the lone Big Four representative.  That’s fine–there’s the CFL’s Stampeders.

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Calgary stamps on the competition.

42. Jacksonville.  It may be Florida’s largest city, but I’m not so sure the J-Ville is much of a sports town.  Shad Khan is trying to breathe new life into the Jaguars, and hometown hero Tim Tebow seems likely to return.  We’ll give that some time and see how it pans out.

43. Orlando.  Despite the relative support for the Magic, I do not consider Orlando to be viable or acceptable pro sports market.  Too much about the city is contrived and newfangled.  I expect the Magic to wear off as the team plummets further into mediocrity.

44. Sacramento.  The Kings are at the forefront of every whisper about NBA relocation.  They are likely to move–probably to Seattle.  Mayor (and former Phoenix Sun) Kevin Johnson has been trying to lure the Oakland A’s to Sac-town, but for the foreseeable future the biggest ballclub in town will remain the AAA Rivercats.  At least they’re one of the top draws in the minors!

 

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More like the kings of a group of cities that have no business hosting a pro sports team.

45. New Jersey.  For the record, this doesn’t include the Meadowlands.  The lone representative in the Big Four is the New Jersey Devils of Newark.  Jersey is still stinging from the Nets’ departure, but the state as a whole enjoys a good measure of success in minor league and collegiate sports.

46. Ottawa.  The Senators are fairly respectable, but there is a marked lack of a CFL team–at least for now.  As such, Canada’s capital is our fifth ranked Canadian market.

47. Edmonton.  The Oilers have shown a remarkable ability to maintain a presence in Edmonton despite many obstacles over the years.  The CFL’s Eskimos round out the market.

 

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The Oilers keep it greasy in the NHL.

48. Winnipeg.  The Jets happily returned to Manitoba recently–hopefully ticket sales will pick within a few years.  The Winnipeg Goldeyes, an independent pro baseball team in the American Association, do very well.

49. Kentucky.  The last section of our list features teams that do not currently have even one team in the Big Four.  This is where things get interesting.  The state of Kentucky doesn’t have much precedent for pro sports, but the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels come to mind.  On the collegiate level, UK and Louisville dominate fan interest in basketball.  The schools both have successful football programs as well.  In Minor League Baseball, the Louisville Bats are typically the 2nd biggest draw in all the minors, and the Lexington Legends rank around 25 out of about 150.  Louisville is a sizable city with more denizens than dozens of cities in the Big Four.  Even Lexington has more people than Cincinnati, Buffalo, or Orlando.  The Bluegrass State should not be overlooked in discussions of pro sports relocation or expansion.

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I’m Kentucky. Hear me roar.

50. Alabama. The Crimson Tide and Auburn are two of the top draws in college football.  There is peripheral interest in basketball and baseball as well–but if Alabama could support a pro team it would have to in the NFL.  The question is whether or not Alabamans would split allegiance between Saturday and Sunday.

51. Virginia.  It may be a little broad to use the whole state of Virginia as a market.  The Virginia Beach/Norfolk area in particular hosts millions of people and is sports-crazy.  Richmond is also worth mentioning.

52. Nebraska.  Omaha, specifically, is a large enough city to support a pro team–at least in theory.  The Lincoln-based Cornhuskers dominate the state’s sports attention at present, but I could see a pro team in some league sticking in Nebraska.

53. Iowa.  This is a long shot for pro sports, but Iowa’s dedication to baseball, football, and basketball is undeniable.  The Iowa Cubs are a very popular MiLB team, and the Hawkeyes draw fans to the gridiron and the court.

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The Hawkeyes are popular, but would a pro team fly?

54. Las Vegas.  This is the city that is always brought up in any talk about expansion or relocation.  The main reason is that Las Vegas is the largest metro area in the US without a team in the Big Four.  Here’s the problem: Vegas is not a major sports city.  They can barely support a minor league baseball team.  The best they can muster for football is the UFL’s Locomotives.  The UNLV Rebels do well, so if any league goes to Vegas I’d say the NBA has the best shot.

55. Arkansas.  The Razorbacks are wildly popular in college football and basketball.  I’m not so sure that the state could support a pro team, but it’s worth mentioning.

56. Hamilton.  Hamilton, Ontario is a large city in a very densely populated area on Lake Ontario’s west coast.  The city currently hosts the CFL’s Tiger-Cats and the AHL’s Bulldogs, among other teams.  Hamilton is possibly the best candidate for relocation or expansion in the NHL.

57. Quebec City.  Quebec is presumably still hurting from the NHL’s Nordiques leaving for greener pasture in Colorado nearly twenty years ago.  I could see the league returning at some point–but the language barrier remains an obstacle.

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The Nordiques fled Quebec City for Denver nearly twenty years ago. Will the weird N thing return?

58. Saskatchewan.  The two largest cities in the province are Saskatoon and Regina–fairly close to each other.  Saskatchewan has hosted the CFL’s Roughriders for many decades, and has an outside chance at a future NHL team.

59. Connecticut/Rhode Island.  They’re pretty much the same state, so I lumped them into one.  College basketball jumps to mind, with Uconn, Providence, and Rhode Island U leading the charge.  Providence and Hartford are fairly large cities with a short history in the Big Four.  Notably, the Hartford Whalers used to call the NHL home and the Providence Steam Roller (or Rollers) had incarnations in the NFL and NBA.  Minor League Baseball teams in both states are quite successful as well.  Occasionally there’s talk of a pro ball team in Hartford, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

60. New Mexico.  We’ll round out the second tier with an underdog that has yet to sniff the pro leagues.  Albuquerque, New Mexico is the 32nd largest metro area in the US, and is larger than about half of the markets in the Big Four.  The AAA baseball Albuquerque Isotopes (named after a Simpsons episode) draw in the top ten of all ~150 minor league clubs.  The New Mexico Lobos are a very popular college basketball team.  We’ll call New Mexico the the distant wildcard in Big Four discussions.

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I’ll show you second tier.

So there is the second tier.  You can see how the list gets thin at around 50 and then the wildcards come out of left field.  We’ll be referencing this study in several future posts, including our upcoming Ideal Leagues series.  The Ideal Leagues are an in depth exploration of what the Big Four pro sports leagues would look like if Sport Change ruled the world.  Stay posted.  Thanks for reading.

SPORT CHANGE

Now that Sport Change has thoroughly examined each NCAA Division I moniker, it’s time to finish this study off by ranking the Top 100.

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NCAA: Nickname Curiosities Are Allowed

In the Moniker Monitor Ground Rules,  the factors for what make a great collegiate or semipro team nickname have been spelled out.  As a refresher, here are some of those criteria and how they apply to this study:

CRITERIA FOR SELECTION

-Fun or Serious?  The NCAA is an interesting blend of novelty nicknames and efforts toward respectability.  In a minor league or semipro setting, goofy monikers are king and serious nicknames often seem out of place.  In the NCAA, both can be good–it’s all about context.  The fun ones are celebrated and the intimidating ones are respected.  Additionally, many schools have historical ties that rival or exceed most pro teams, and plenty had their nicknames well before synonymous pro team monikers popped up.  In fact, we can make that a criterion….

-History.  Schools will not slip in the rankings due to a lack of history themselves, but there are bound to be a few historic skaters.  The Kansas Jayhawks, for instance, have a terrible moniker at face value, but they’ll certainly crack the Top 100–mainly due to history and consistency.

-Regional Relevance.  Whereas pro sports can get away with more universal/regionally irrelevant nicknames, semipro levels have much more liberty to pick uber-specific regionally relevant handles.  Nicknames that remain ubiquitous but not specific will not slip in rank, but those with appropriate regional relevance will stand out.

-Alliteration.  It helps at any level.  At collegiate levels, there is much, much more leeway for riding alliteration as a leading nickname attribute.  Monikers almost always sound better when the place name and the nickname begin with the same letters.

-Sound of Moniker.  Often the actual sound of a word being pronounced can have an effect on the overall name.  A hard ‘K’ sound (Buckeyes, Jayhawks) within a word can give bonus points to a nickname that doesn’t measure up at face value.  It can also make a good name become great.  Additionally, the way the place name meshes with the nickname certainly helps, such as in Houston Cougars or Valparaiso Crusaders.  You almost need to say it aloud to appreciate it.

Those will be our main criteria for selection.  Now, let’s talk about the selection process.  For these rankings, Sport Change selected a total of 150 Division I monikers from which to draw the Top 100.  There are about 350 nicknames in D-I, so where did the other 200 go?

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ELIGIBLE ENTRANTS

Part 1 of this study focused on monikers that are shared by pro sports teams in the Big Four.  From these, Sport Change selected only 25 of a little over 100.  Each moniker was limited to only one representative at maximum.  For example, eight D-I schools use ‘Panthers,’ but only Pittsburgh was selected to be eligible for the Top 100.

Part 2 of this study focused on monikers that are not seen in pro sports, but are replicated throughout D-I.  Again, only one representative of each moniker was considered eligible, and 25 of a little over 100 were selected.  For example, of the fourteen ‘Bulldogs,’ Georgia is the only one available for ranking.

Part 3 of this study focused on the 115 unique monikers in D-I.  This list was narrowed down to an even 100 by eliminating 15 monikers that had no shot of cracking the Top 100.  The entire ‘color’ category was eliminated.  You will not see the Stanford Cardinal or Syracuse Orange on this list.

So added all up, that gives us 150 of approximately 350.  From here, all 150 monikers of each category are lumped together and weighed against each other using the criteria listed above.

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So…without further ado, here is a countdown of the Sport Change Top 100 NCAA Division I sports team nicknames:

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Eastern Kentucky carries on the tradition of Colonels in Kentucky. There was the ABA and there is fried chicken.

100. Eastern Kentucky Colonels.  ‘Colonels’ is a decent nickname, and the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels wore it well.  EKU carries on the crispy-fried tradition.

99. NCState Wolfpack.   I’m generallly not a fan of nicknames that do not end in the letter S, but NC-State makes Wolfpack respectable and palatable.

98. UCLA Bruins.  Bruins is a bizarre moniker since it’s a word almost nobody uses in normal language.  As such, it’s much better served on the collegiate level than in the pros.

97. Valparaiso Crusaders.  The sound of these two words together is what pushes Valpo onto the list.  At face value, the moniker isn’t so great.

96. UTEP Miners.  Blunt and simple.  A blue-collar moniker that says something about the El Paso area, as depressing as that might be.

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UTEP dug up a nice nickname.

95. Utah Utes.  It’s the best of the Native American monikers.  The alliteration is almost comical.

94. Bucknell Bison.  What’s better: Bison or Bisons?  Bison is grammatically correct, but it makes for tricky pluralization.  Bucknell gets the nod for alliteration.  Why is it that an overgrown cow can seem so intimidating?

93. Texas Longhorns.  Speaking of overgrown cows, UT gets points for regional relevance and for wearing their identity well.

92. Kansas Jayhawks.  History certainly nudges KU along here.  At face value, what is a Jayhawk?  There are conflicting stories about the name’s origin.

91. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.  It’s a reference to the rooster from Canterbury Tales.  Bonus points for digging deep and coming up with something unique–there is plenty of leeway for this on the collegiate level.  Go Chants!

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CCU opened up the book of nursery rhymes to find their moniker.

90. Rutgers Scarlet Knights.  ‘Knights’ is a very good sports moniker that is rarely used.  The variant of Scarlet Knights is interesting if nothing else.  Pretty nice nickname.

89. San Francisco Dons.  A reference to Spanish noblemen.  The mascot used to greatly resemble Zorro, but it became a cease-and-desist copyright situation.  The moniker?  Simple, unique, good.

88. Wichita State Shockers.  This is an antiquated reference to the practice of bundling wheat, or making ‘shocks.’  Regionally relevant and certainly one-of-a-kind.

87. UCSB Gauchos.  The nomadic cowboys of South America.  Respectable and fun.  Sombreros off to the Gauchos.

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UCSB looked south of the border for their nickname. South of the Panama Canal, that is.

86. UMBC Retrievers.  Here’s one of many domesticated dog nicknames in Division I.  This one is a very regionally relevant reference to the Chesapeake Bay retriever.  Fear the ferocious fetchers of Baltimore County!

85. Loyola Maryland Greyhounds.  This is a more respectable pooch nickname in that greyhounds are synonymous with speed.  Terrific for basketball.  This Baltimore based school is only a tennis ball’s throw from UMBC.

84. Albany Great Danes.  This doggy gets credit for originality and respectability.  It works well as a collegiate sports moniker and can be shortened to just ‘Danes.’

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Albany has a great dog-based moniker.

83. Southern Utah Thunderbirds.  A very respectable reference to Native American folklore in the Southwestern United States.  The T-Birds have a unique and powerful nickname.

82. Northwestern State Demons.  I appreciate the diminutive quality here.  Where ‘Devils’ works on the pro level, ‘Demons’ holds it’s own on the amateur level.  DePaul wears ‘Blue Demons’ very well, but the blue is holding them back.  It’s a shame, because the alliteration would be perfect.

81. Furman Paladins.  Paladin is a brave knight of ancient European folklore.  Furman adds a little more fun to Division I with this moniker.

80. Idaho Vandals.  I imagine that when this nickname was picked, it had a similar connotation as ‘Raiders.’  Nowadays, it’s impossible to extricate the name from the non-PC act of vandalism.  I appreciate the scrappy outlaw nature here, and commend Idaho for sticking to their guns.  Or spray paint cans.

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Think ancient European warriors, not graffiti artists.

79. Denver Pioneers.  It’s a shame that ‘Pioneers’ is not represented in the Big Four.  Portland nearly picked it, but chose Trailblazers instead.  Too bad, because that would’ve been one of the best monikers in all pro sports.  At least Denver can don the coonskin cap and wear it well.

78. Pennsylvania Quakers.  It may not be the most intimidating nickname you’ve ever heard, but Pennsylvania pays homage to the Quaker State every time they suit up for a game.

77. Florida A&M Rattlers.  Representing the reptiles in good fashion, the Rattlers have some teeth in their name.

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The Rattlers are the lone snake in the grass of D-I

76. Marist Red Foxes.  I’m not sure that the ‘Red’ is totally necessary, but since a red fox is a legit creature, I’ll accept.  Foxes make terrific mascots on the amateur levels, and are underutilized.

75. USC Trojans.  ‘Trojans’ is less intimidating than ‘Spartans,’ but is a nice history-based nickname with history of it’s own.

74. IPFW Mastadons.  More clever and obscure than most monikers–Mastodons was a solid choice for Fort Wayne.

73. UTSA Roadrunners.  A very nice regionally-relevant collegiate nickname.  Arizona U should change their name from Wildcats to Roadrunners.  For now, the name is San Antonio’s.

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Roadrunner, roadrunner.

72. Clemson Tigers.  Just simply the best use of ‘Tigers’ in Division I.

71. Southern Jaguars.  Southern edged out the other few Jaguars in D-I, and the name is probably more appropriate for a college than an NFL team.

70. Duquesne Dukes.  ‘Dukes’ is a very solid moniker, especially for a college or semipro team.  Duquesne takes alliteration to an extreme, but the name doesn’t overly rely on it.

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Duquesne takes alliteration to a new level.

69. Houston Cougars.  This has to be the best use of Cougars, especially the way the words ‘Houston’ and ‘Cougars’ mesh together so well.

68. Iowa State Cyclones.  I’m generally not a big fan of weather nicknames, but Cyclones is solid.  Iowa State wears it well.

67. Saint Peter’s Peacocks.  A unique and fun bird moniker that is masculine, I guess.  The sound of the place name and moniker work well together.

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The Peacocks strut their stuff in the MACC.

66. Alabama Crimson Tide.  At face value, it’s really not much better than say, the Green Wave of Tulane.  ‘Bama makes our list with a boost from history and the effective use of color scheme and “Roll Tide.”

65. Austin Peay Governors.  The school is named after a former governor of Tennessee, so the moniker is a literal reflection of that.  Pretty funny.

64. UAB Blazers.  I like the term ‘Blazers’ for a sports team, but it’s important to note that Birmingham took a different path than the Portland Trailblazers by using a dragon as a mascot.

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Alabama-Birmingham took a more literal definition of ‘Blazers.’

63. Kent State Golden Flashes.  There are other similar nicknames (like the St. Francis Red Flash) that are terrible, but for some reason Golden Flashes works.  Those two words sound great together, and it lends itself well to flashy gold uniforms.

62. Cal Golden Bears.  Generally speaking, I don’t like over-specific variants.  That said, I’m a sucker for ‘golden’ anything.  Cal also gets credit for the golden-colored bear on the California state flag.  

61. Kentucky Wildcats.  Arguably the best use of ‘Wildcats’–a terrific nickname.  It’s almost a shame that there are so many colleges with the name, because it would be workable at the pro level; certainly better than Bengals or Bobcats.

60. Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  This is a very strange nickname that’s hard to say without feeling a little uncertain.  Maybe that’s what makes it so good!  That, and history.

59. South Dakota State Jackrabbits.  Like ‘Greyhounds,’ this nickname sounds speedy.  It’s also fun and regionally relevant.

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South Dakota state sets bar for how respectable a bunny can be.

58. South Carolina Gamecocks.  It’s tough and thoroughly Southern.  The hard ‘k’ sound in the middle of the word packs a peck.

57. Virginia Cavaliers.  Classy and respectable.  Virginia wears this nickname better than Cleveland, in my opinion.

56. Tennessee Volunteers.  The Volunteer State is represented literally, and Tennessee gets boosts from history and a maddening level of consistency and simplicity.  Two colors and a T for a logo.

55. UMKC Kangaroos.  One of three schools on this list that have a logo that was once designed or inspired by Walt Disney.  Kangaroos is a very fun nickname, and Kansas City gets points for alliteration too.

54. Fairfield Stags.  A solid, decent, masculine nickname.  Not as good as Bucks, but good nonetheless.

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Fairfield has a solid yet understated nickname.

53. Canisius Golden Griffins.  If it were just Griffins, it would  be ranked higher.  Griffins is a terrific reference to a mythological creature, and is intimidating to boot.  The ‘golden’ is certainly unnecessary, but it’s better than, say, Blue Griffins.

52. Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Regionally-relevant state nickname moniker that works pretty well.  It is, however, just a bit corny.

51. Minnesota Golden Gophers.  It’s goofy, no doubt, but there’s plenty of leeway for that kind of thing in college sports.  The ‘golden’ is alliterative, too, so it doesn’t lose points for over-specificity.   

50. North Carolina Tar Heels.  Another state nickname moniker that sounds tough, even if it is a bit of a headscratcher.  For the record, a Tar Heel is not a sheep–it’s a person with pine pitch on their foot.

49. Ohio State Buckeyes.  Whoever thought that a tree nut moniker could be both tough and fun.  History helps the pride of the Buckeye State.

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OSU gets nutty while representing the Buckeye state.

48. Miami Hurricanes.  Regionally relevant, sure, but also well-branded and at this point–historic.

47. Louisville Cardinals.  Cardinals is certainly an overused moniker, but Louisville pulls it off surprisingly well.

46. Creighton Blue Jays.  Creighton wears the blue quite well, and operates this nickname independently of the Toronto baseballers.

45. Michigan State Spartans.  It references a ruthless and brutal historic culture, so I guess that counts for something.  The hard ‘T’ sound in the middle of the word sounds tough as well.

44. Long Island-Brooklyn Blackbirds.  Nice.  This is the only time I’ve heard ‘Blackbirds’ used as a team nickname, but it works really well.  Nice.

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The Blackbirds may have the most respectable songbird nickname in all sports.

43. West Virginia Mountaineers.  West Virginia is a state that would expect to have Mountaineers as a sport team nickname.  It just works.

42. Southern Methodist Mustangs.  Mustangs is a moniker that would fit well at any level, including the pros.  SMU pulls it off very well, considering that they’ve kept a consistent brand at least since Eric Dickerson wore the red and white.

41. Campbell Fighting Camels.  The ‘Fighting’ is unnecessary, but it’s also fun.  Ignoring it, Campbell Camels has terrific alliteration.

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Campbell adds yet another unique mammal moniker.

40. Cal-Irvine Anteaters.  There’s a team called the Anteaters?  This is what non-professional sports can do so well.

39. Washington Huskies.  A pretty solid moniker all around, and Washington wears it just slightly better than UCONN.

38. Portland Pilots.  Pilots is a very good nickname that works at any level.  Portland also gets the alliterative boost.

37. Wyoming Cowboys.  This is such a wholesale use of Cowboys, that it’s impossible to ignore.  Dallas may own the moniker, but Wyoming is going nowhere.  The same logo is on licence plates and road signs.

36. Oregon State Beavers.  State nickname moniker that is also fun and furry.

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Oregon State represents the Beaver State.

35. Iowa Hawkeyes.  The Hawkeye State is represented by collegiate teams that wear the nicknames as well as possible.  Simplicity and history.

34. Georgia Bulldogs.  The best of the many Bulldogs, and that’s saying something.  Woof!

33. Arkansas Razorbacks.  It’s fun yet also regionally-relevant.  That word ‘razorback’ is fun to say, and it meshes will with Arkansas.

32. La Salle Explorers.  Very nice and family-friendly, to boot.  Just a great college nickname, all around.

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There should be more nicknames in D-I like this. The college Joes need to use their noggins.

31. Hawaii Warriors.  Warriors is always a great moniker, and Hawaii takes a measure of pride from the traditions of the indigenous Hawaiian warrior culture.

30. Baylor Bears.  Bears may be overused and ‘owned’ by Chicago, but Baylor wears the name well.  Alliteration is a big bonus.

29. Purdue Boilermakers.   A gritty blue-collar name always earns extra points.  The college equivalent of the Steelers.

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Those boilers aren’t going to make themselves.

28. Massachusetts Minutemen.  Very regionally-relevant and also alliterative.  Tough and respectable  too.

27. Colorado Buffaloes.  There’s just something about buffaloes that commands respect.  Colorado works a Wild West image to very good effect.

26. Southern Illinois Salukis.  This one always seems to come to the forefront every few years in the basketball tournament.  To refresh: the saluki is a breed of dog favored by ancient Egyptians.  Southern Illinois is known as little Egypt due to city names like Cairo and Thebes.  Hence, the SIU Salukis.

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Southern Illinois has a clever nickname that indirectly references it’s region.

25. New Mexico Lobos.  The simple ‘Wolves’ might not be used anywhere in the Big Four or D-I, but the Spanish translation sounds great and works well in a border state.

24. Delaware Blue Hens.  No, it’s not the most masculine moniker in America.  But it’s fun, state-specific, and color coodinatable.  I love inventing words.

23. Providence Friars.  This is about as good as a religious moniker can get.  The two words work nicely together, and the moniker manages to be respectable.

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This is about as good as you can get with religious nicknames.

22. Wofford Terriers.  Fun, scrappy, and even a little tough.  Got to love how Wofford is basically Woof-ord.  Excellent.  Arf!

21. Montana Grizzlies.  The best use of Grizzles out there.  If only Memphis would take a hint from Montana and use a regionally relevant nickname.

20. San Diego State Aztecs.  I hope that nobody is offended by this moniker, because I think it’s excellent.  It’s representative of a historic culture in much the same way as Vikings or Spartans, and it fits well within a city near the border.

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Using a moniker from an ancient warrior culture is a pretty sure bet.

19. Buffalo Bulls.  Bulls may be used in Chicago to good effect, but it’s universal enough to allow for a few other versions.  Buffalo makes terrific use of alliteration, and this is a much better moniker than the Buffalo Bills.

18. Pittsburgh Panthers.  I think Pitt wears Panthers better than any other sports organization in the country, including both of the pro teams.  Awesome.

17. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.  Hilarious and region specific, with great rhyming.  It’s the kind of moniker that makes you want to dance a zydeco and take a roadtrip to Louisiana.  Much better than Fighting Irish.  Hats off.

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Louisiana-Lafayette makes the bayou proud

16. Saint Louis Billikens.  Saint Louis takes the cake for having no inhibitions about goofiness and using a bit of city folklore in their moniker.  Makes for good conversation when Saint Louis makes the basketball tourney.

15. Arizona State Sun Devils.  This is a variant that really works well.  There’s just something believable about a devil in the sun and it fits Arizona.  Fun fact: the Sparky logo is a cartoon rendering  of Walt Disney.  Why would Walt Disney be a devil?  Because the cartoonist was fired by Disney.

14. Maine Black Bears.  Another one (like Red Foxes) that’s a specific variant, yet an actual animal.  It’s intimidating and it fits with Maine very well.

13. Vermont Catamounts.  A catamount is another word for cougar, mountain lion, puma….basically a more colloquial version of Wildcats.  Catamount is short for cat-o’-the-mountain.

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Vermont looked to the Green Mountains for their nickname.

12. Ohio Bobcats.  Forget the NBA; here’s a moniker that’s meant for amateur levels.  Ohio wears it best of all the Bobcats.  It looks like the NBA franchise in Charlotte may change their nickname, which would give ‘ownership’ back to Ohio.

11. Richmond Spiders.  It may be creepy, but it’s very effective.  I’m glad that there’s a team somewhere named the Spiders.  This is one of the monikers that stands out in NCAA basketball tournaments.  Simply webderful.

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Yes, it’s creepy. Also unique and effective.

10. Texas Christian Horned Frogs.  Horned Frogs is one of those monikers that’s fun, unique, and regionally relevant at the expense of being overly serious and intimidating.  In other words, it’s perfect for D-I.  Now if Texas gave up the Longhorns and started called themselves the Christian Horned Frogs, that would really be something.

9. Oregon Ducks.  Everybody loves this moniker, and the Anaheim hockey team should take their webbed feet off of it.  Oregon is the third team on this list that has a Disney logo connection.  The use of Donald Duck as a team logo is acceptable under an agreement between Oregon and Disney.  Go figure.

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Oregon gets it’s feet wet among the great sports nicknames.

8. Wisconsin Badgers.  The Badger State actually refers to a nickname for miners who made their homes in the earth.  There are actually not many badgers in Wisconsin.  Either way, Bucky is a great mascot and the moniker has teeth.

7. Michigan Wolverines.  The Wolverine State (also Great Lakes State) actually refers to a nickname for ferocious soldiers in Michigan who once fought against Ohio.  There are actually next to no wolverines in Michigan.  Either way, it’s a unique sports moniker with plenty of teeth.

6. Xavier Musketeers.  I love it.  Great way to reference historic swashbucklers and literature at the same time.  The X logo always brings to mind either two swords crossed or a mark left in a similar manner as Zorro’s Z.

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Xavier pledges allegiance to classic literature with their nickname.

5. Temple Owls.  At the end of the day, it’s the animal nicknames that come out on top.  Owls wouldn’t work well on a pro level, but in college: sublime.  Fun fact: former Temple basketball coach John Chaney resembles an owl.

4. Lafayette Leopards.  Yes!  This what a non-professional cat nickname should be.  It’s more obscure than most, yet it’s also a large ferocious feline.  The alliteration shoots Lafayette towards the top.

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Lafayette employs the most underrated of the big cats.

3. Florida Gators.  It’s fierce yet fun.  It’s universal yet regional.  It lends itself to a hilarious hand motion for fans.  Nice work, Florida.

2. Drexel Dragons.  I don’t think Dragons is ready for the pro level, but it’s an absolutely terrific moniker for college, semipro, or other minor leagues.  It’s respectable and literary, but also unique and a bit goofy.  Drexel gets a big handful of bonus points for alliteration–which is much trickier when your place name begins with a consonant cluster.

1. Maryland Terrapins.  Funny, original, and just obscure enough.  A moniker that lends itself to a lovable mascot, yet still commands a measure of respect.  The best part: Maryland and Terrapin rhyme.  A shell-shockingly good moniker!

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Terrapins: a shell of a good moniker!

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Honorable Mention

A few monikers just missed the Top 100.  Both fight song remnant nicknames, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Georgetown Hoyas, weren’t able to cheer their way in.  The two state nickname based monikers that didn’t make it were the Indiana Hoosiers and the Oklahoma Sooners.  There’s just nothing to hold on to there.  The two bullfighters, the Cal-Northridge Matadors and the San Diego Toreros, got pushed out of the ring.  The three flighty Ohio programs: the Dayton Flyers, Toledo Rockets, and Akron Zips flew out of the rankings.  Despite the nice alliteration, the Longwood Lancers were not able to poke themselves into the Top 100.

So there you have it.  It took the better part of a month, but we have fully explored about all there is to know about sports team nicknames in NCAA Division I.  Thanks for reading.  Feel free to post comments or argue the rankings.  How would you rank them?  What’s your top ten?

NCAA Moniker Study Part 1: the Copycats

NCAA Moniker Study Part 2: Wildcats, Cougars, and Bulldogs, oh my!

NCAA Moniker Study Part 3: From Anteaters to Zips

NCAA Moniker Study Part 4: the Top 100 Nicknames in Division I

 

What’s next on Sport Change?  Something different, for Pete’s sake. Stay tuned.

SPORT CHANGE

It is now time for the third installment in our NCAA Division I moniker study.  In this episode, we’re taking a good look at the monikers that are one of a kind in Division I.

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Cal-Irvine intimidates opponents by constantly threatening to eat insects.

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For Part 1, click here.  For Part 2, click here.

As a refresher, these are the nicknames that did not fall into either of the two categories that we studied in the previous installments.  In Part 1, we looked at college monikers shared with pro sports teams in the Big Four.  In Part 2, it was the nicknames that are unseen in the Big Four, but are duplicated throughout Division I.  There were three nicknames (Blue Devils, Gamecocks, and Wolverines) that were carried forward from Part 2 to this installment.  Those three may share their moniker with another school, but were dubbed the “I don’t think so” teams–meaning the more prominent schools had more than staked a claim on the name.

So let’s get right into it.  Here are the one-of-a-kinders.  We’ll break it down by category.

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This guy will not be badgered into having an overused moniker.

STATE NICKNAMES.  There a handful of schools that use an element of a state nickname as their mascot.  Often these are the largest universities in their state, and each either claims the state itself as it’s place name or is the state name followed by the word ‘state.’  This is particularly popular in the Big Ten, where seven of twelve members use a state nickname.  The monikers that fit this category are:  Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, North Carolina Tar Heels, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oregon State Beavers, Pennsylvania Quakers, Tennessee Volunteers, and Wisconsin Badgers.  It should be noted that Michigan’s official nickname is the Great Lakes State.  Wolverine State is the traditional nickname, so we gave them the nod.  The Blue Hen State is one of Delaware’s nicknames, but is maybe only the third or fourth most-used.  As such, we moved Delaware to another category….

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Hens may not be the most macho creatures, but Delaware certainly has a fun mascot.

BIRDS.  Aside from the obvious bird monikers (Eagles, Hawks) covered in the last two installments, NCAA runs a-fowl with unique bird-based nicknames.  In the barnyard, we find the Delaware Blue Hens and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers–a reference to a rooster in old children’s tales.  The South Carolina Gamecocks strut their tough, outlaw image, and the St. Peter’s Peacocks certainly display their feathers in a statement of semipro flamboyance.  Taking a walk on the wild side, we have the Illinois State Redbirds and the Long Island-Brooklyn Blackbirds flashing their colors.  The University of North Florida Ospreys represent the lesser-known raptors, if improperly pluralized.  Then you have the highly visible odd duck–the Kansas Jayhawks.  What is a Jayhawk?  It’s not clear.

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Is it a jay? Is it a hawk? One thing is for sure: it’s one-of-a-kind.

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WILD DOGS.  You would think that wild dogs would be well-represented in all levels of sports, but it’s not really the case.  In the pros, there is are the Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Timberwolves.  That’s it.  The ‘Wolfpack’ moniker is used twice in Division I, so that was covered in Part 2.  Seawolves doesn’t count for this category since that’s not an actual animal.  That leaves us with three unique wild dogs: the Marist Red Foxes, Arkansas State Red Wolves, and New Mexico Lobos.  Two color specific subspecies and the Spanish word for wolf.  I’ve asked this question several times…why is it so hard to find teams with a moniker of just ‘Wolves?’  If you ignore minor league hockey, you’re just about out of luck.

DOMESTICATED DOGS.  In addition to the plethora of Bulldogs, Huskies, and yes, Terriers covered in Part 2, there is still a full kennel of unique pet dog monikers.  The Albany Great Danes, Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers.  Yes, retrievers.  Even more obscure are the Southern Illinois Salukis, a reference to the ancient Egyptian royal dogs.

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The Retrievers embody the energy of a free safety waiting for a pick-six.

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WILD CATS.  The obvious choices for the ever popular big cat nicknames have already been scooped by by Part 1 and Part 2.  There are dozens of NCAA teams that share a name with a pro team (or two) including Tigers, Lions, Panthers, Bobcats, Jaguars, and even Bengals.  There is also a whole herd of Wildcats, Cougars, and yes, Bearcats.  That leaves with two unique felines: the Lafayette Leopards and the Vermont Catamounts.  Meow.

MORE MAMMALS!  Here we go.  Let’s take a safari, a trip to a national park, or a visit to the zoo.  Along the way we’ll meet Arkansas Razorbacks, Cal-Irvine Anteaters, Campbell Fighting Camels, Colorado Buffaloes, Fairfield Stags, Kansas City Kangaroos, South Dakota State Jackrabbits, and Texas Longhorns.  If we’re able to go back in time or to facilitate advanced cloning techniques, we may even see the Indiana-Fort Wayne Mastadons.

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Fort Wayne looked to the Ice Age for their nickname.

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BUGS.  There are two nicknames in Division I that reference a bug of some sort.  The Virginia Tech Yellow Jackets join with the NBA’s Hornets to showcase the stinging insect sector of society.  The Richmond Spiders make eight-leggers everywhere mighty proud.

REPTILES.  The cold-blooded crowd has a few representatives in Division I.  Most prominent are the Florida Gators, though the Maryland Terrapins and Texas Christian Horned Frogs are no slouches.  The lone member of the snake community is the Florida A&M Rattlers.

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Cute & cuddly yet prickly & dangerous.

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ANIMAL GROUPS.  The Hofstra Pride seem to take their inspiration from a group of Lions.  The Marshall Thundering Herd are quite specific about the nature of their bison.

MYTHICAL CREATURES.  Tapping into the mythologies of world culture can sometimes yield nicknames that fit wonderfully with college culture.  Other times, it’s just plain awkward.  The Canisius Golden Griffins, Duke Blue Devils, and DePaul Blue Demons seem to have a need for clearly stating the color of their creature.  The Drexel Dragons and Northwestern State Demons play it simple, to good effect.  The Southern Utah Thunderbirds reference Native American folklore.  The Stony Brook Seawolves animate a literary metaphor.  The Saint Louis Billikens refer to an elvish creature imagined by a school teached in St. Louis.

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Perhaps the only school that takes it’s name from a good luck charm.

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THE COLORS.  Sometimes teams simply claim a color as their own.  This differs slightly from a name like the Cincinnati Reds in that college teams tend to just be that color–in a non-pluralable sort of way.  The Cornell Big Red, Harvard Crimson, Stanford Cardinal, Dartmouth Big Green, North Texas Mean Green, and Syracuse Orange all fit this description.  Maybe it’s a status thing.

THE COLORFUL SOMETHINGS.  Maybe it’s a force of nature, an occurrence, or an article of clothing.  For whatever reason: it is colorful.  The Alabama Crimson Tide and Tulane Green Wave make a spash with their monikers.  The Kent State Golden Flashes and St. Francis Red Flash refer to lightning or photographs or something.  The St. John’s Red Storm make it clear that the approaching squall is ruddy in hue.  Most bizarrely, the Presbyterian Blue Hose make an archaic reference to a very manly piece of legwear.

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What is more intimidating than thigh-high stockings of a blue hue?

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WEATHER.  Considering the proliferation of weather-related monikers in the NBA and NHL, it’s a bit of a surprise that Hurricanes is the only moniker shared by NCAA (Miami) and the Big Four (Carolina.)  Even more of a surprise is that the Iowa State Cyclones and Pepperdine Wave are the only two monikers that fit exclusively in this category.  Now Golden Hurricane, Green Wave, and Red Storm….those make sense.  Generally, I’m not a fan of weather nicknames anyway, so no complaints here.

NOBLEMEN.  Moving on to the many people-based nicknames.  We’ll start at the top of the hierarchy with the political and social leaders.  The Austin Peay Governors, Old Dominion Monarchs, and San Francisco Dons all fit here.  It also seems like the good place to put the Centenary Gentlemen.

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Austin Peay: celebrating Governors everywhere!

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RELIGIOUS FIGURES.  The Providence Friars are in a similar category as the New Orleans Saints.  The big headscratcher here is the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  I guess that’s one way to make a moral authority seem intimidating.

SOLDIERS OF NEW.  The current military finds it’s way into sports through a few monikers used by service sports teams.  These are the Navy Midshipmen and the Virginia Military Institute Keydets–a reference to the Southern pronunciation of ‘cadets.’

SOLDIERS OF OLD.  Where an underutilized moniker like Knights doesn’t jell, there is a whole host of ancient swashbucklers who are ready for battle.  The Furman Paladins, Longwood Lancers, New Orleans Privateers, Vanderbilt Commodores, and Xavier Musketeers all fit the bill.

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Furman dug into ancient European mythology and extracted Paladin.

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NATIVE AMERICANS.  Native American nicknames are generally pretty contentious.  For example, the former North Dakota Fighting Sioux are currently playing sports without a moniker whatsoever.  Some schools have struck agreements with various tribes, while others apparently go unabated.  The Central Michigan Chippewas, Florida State Seminoles, Illinois Fighting Illini, and Utah Utes are the four unique examples of teams that refer to Native groups in the current United States.  The San Diego State Aztecs looked South of the border for their moniker, while the University of California-Santa Barbara Gauchos cast their gaze even further–as far as South America.

CRANKY ETHNIC GROUPS.  I’m not sure why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Lousiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns are so upset, but it certainly is entertaining.

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The Irish have been Fighting for many years, but the question lingers: how do they match up against the Ragin’ Cajuns?

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GUN-TOTING REVOLUTIONARIES.  The UMass Minutemen hearken back to the American Revolution, whereas the Ole Miss Rebels are Civil War era relics.  The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (or in baseball–the Hustlin’ Rebels) draw from Confederate history for some reason.  You wouldn’t think that Las Vegas would need to come up with a unique reason to be called the Rebels.

BLUE COLLAR WORKERS.  Where the NFL has the Packers and Steelers, NCAA Division I has the Purdue Boilermakers and the UTEP Miners.

BULLFIGHTERS.  Believe it or not, there are two Division I monikers that reference bullfighters: the Cal-Northridge Matadors and the San Diego Toreros.  Go figure.

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‘Torero’ is a more authentic term than ‘Matador,’ but Cal-Northridge was wise to use the color red.

MOVERS & SHAKERS.  The Idaho Vandals have a moniker that was probably more akin to Raiders at the time it was picked.  Vandalism is a little more politically incorrect these days.  The La Salle Explorers manage to be respectable, yet original and family-friendly.  The Portland Pilots make excellent use of a very underutilized and terrific sports nickname.  The Murray State Racers are neck and neck with the Pacers for most dull movement-oriented moniker.

THE CHEER PIECES.  Two prominent D-I schools, the Georgetown Hoyas and Virginia Tech Hokies, both get their monikers from remnants of fight songs.  Contrary to popular belief, a hoya is not a bulldog and a hokie is not a turkey.

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A Hokie is not a turkey.  Just sayin.’

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MISCELLANEOUS.  There are some monikers that do not lend themselves easily to any specific category.  The UAB Blazers, for instance, have created a great identity independent of the NBA’s Trailblazers by using a dragon as a mascot.  The retention of the vague ‘Blazers’ moniker, however, does not mean that UAB would be lumped in with the Mythical Creatures.  The Manhattan Jaspers are simply named after a guy named Jasper.  The Indiana State Sycamores are a rare plant-based moniker.  The Loyola Chicago Ramblers seem to be named after a certain type of wanderer, but their mascot is a dog.  Another headscratcher with a dog mascot is the Western Illinois Leathernecks.  Not totally sure what a leatherneck is, but I don’t think it’s a type of dog.  On the literal side of things, we’ve got the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (apparently a pronunciation key) and the Stetson Hatters–an obvious clothing-based moniker.  The Chattanooga Mocs and William & Mary Tribe are two schools that have made themselves bland in the face of offensive references.  The Mocs (former Moccasins)  are now explained as being short for mockingbird.  The Tribe have kept the name, but removed Native American imagery.  The Evansville Aces could’ve been a reference to pilots, but seemingly  has no real meaning.  The West Kent Hilltoppers reference a geographic situation, and the Wichita State Shockers hearken back to an agrarian hay-day.  Since we’ve gone from A to Z with all of these original Division I schools, it’s only fitting that we end with the Akron Zips.

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Akron zips it’s way across the finish line.

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Yep.  The Zips.  God Bless America.   And bless you too, dear reader.  Before we zip out of this NCAA experience, there’ll be one last push to rank the top Division I monikers.  What’s a study without a conclusion?  Stay alert for Part 4.

NCAA Moniker Study Part 1: the Copycats

NCAA Moniker Study Part 2: Wildcats, Cougars, and Bulldogs, oh my!

NCAA Moniker Study Part 3: From Anteaters to Zips

NCAA Moniker Study Part 4: the Top 100 Nicknames in Division I

SPORT CHANGE

For Part 2 of our ongoing NCAA moniker study, we’re taking a good look at all the Division I nicknames that are repeated within the ranks, but are not represented by a pro team in the Big Four. In Part 1, we studied the schools that share a nickname with a pro team.  These nicknames are the originals.  The original duplicates.  Like in our last post, we’ll serve up a brief description and then decide who “owns” the nickname–or at least wears it best.  Let’s dig in:

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Believe it or not, there are a few Bulldogs in Division I.

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Who Let The Dogs Out?

For starters, let’s take a look at four nicknames that draw inspiration from the Canine family.  Let’s start with the big one:

-Bulldogs.  Guess how many Division I schools use Bulldogs as their nickname?  If you guessed fourteen, you’re count and mine are the same.  Fourteen.  More than any other nickname.  More than Eagles, even if you count Golden Eagles and other variations.  The fourteen doesn’t include the Georgetown Hoyas, North Carolina A&T Aggies, James Madison Dukes, and Western Illinois Leathernecks–though all four use a bulldog as a mascot.  It’s somewhat surprising that there isn’t a single Bulldog in the Big Four.  The NFL once had the Canton Bulldogs, and the Cleveland Browns carry the tradition somewhat.  Perhaps new and rebranding pro teams see the plethora of college Bulldogs and shrug.  Anyway, of the fourteen, the most prominent are Butler, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Yale.  Others include Alabama A&M, Gardner Webb, NC-Asheville, Drake, Samford, Louisiana Tech, South Carolina State,  and the Citadel.  Of all of those, the top dog has to be Georgia.

-Huskies.  Another one that surprisingly has no Big Four representation.  Perhaps because Connecticut, Northern Illinois, Houston Baptist, Northeastern, and Washington are barking loudly.  For ownership’s sake, it’s a dog fight (pun intended) between UCONN and Washington.  I’m giving the bone to Washington for their competence in football and basketball.

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The cat will mew, and the Terrier will have it’s day.

-Terriers.  Unbelievable.   There are three Terriers in Division I.  I really like this as a collegiate moniker, but I’m shocked that Boston University, St. Francis, and Wofford all use Terriers as their mascot.  Of the three, I’m going with Wofford since it’s so close to Woof-ord.  That’s how I pronounce it, anyway.

-Wolfpack.  This is a a vaguely clever twist on using just Wolves as a moniker.  I’m so surprised that (not counting the Timberwoves) there are no Wolves in not only the Big Four, but in all of Division I athletics.  Surprisingly, there are two Wolfpacks: Nevada and NC State.  Both make a good case, but NC State has a damn good athletic program.

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“Outside in the cold distance, a Wildcat did growl…”

What’s New, Pussycat?

Moving on to three representative of the Feline family.  That is, if you include Bearcats as part of the feline family.  What the hell is a Bearcat, anyway?

-Wildcats.  To me, this is the quintessential college moniker.  It’s surprising that there are only nine Wildcats in Division I, but the mean quality is very good.  The big ones are Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas State, Northwestern, and Villanova.  Bethune-Cookman, New Hampshire, Davidson, and Weber State are no slouches.  It’s a bit of a cat fight (pun intended, of course) between the top teams, but I’ve got to give it to Kentucky.

-Cougars.  There are five Cougar colleges overall, with Brigham Young, Houston, and Washington State being the most noteworthy.  Despite some weird Ryan Leaf association in my mind between WSU and Cougars, I really have to give Houston the nod here.

-Bearcats/Bearkats.  That’s right, you read it.  Sam Houston State uses Bearkats as a moniker.  Wow.  Additionally, Binghamton University uses Bearcats.  In a landslide victory, I’m giving the trophy to what I thought was the only Bearcat in the universe before I began this study: Cincinnati.  What the hell is a Bearcat, anyway?  I’m not sure I even want to know what a Bearkat is.

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A Bearcat, apparently.

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Bird is the Word

-Owls.  A great nickname, particularly at a collegiate or semipro level.  Florida Atlantic, Kennesaw State, Rice, and Temple are all owls.  Rice makes a tantalizing choice, but I bow before Temple.  It must be John Chaney–a man who resembles an owl.

-Roadrunners.  Two schools (Texas-San Antonio and Cal State-Bakersfield) rock the Roadrunner.  Who wins?  I’ll give UTSA the nod.  There’s not really a good reason–I just like it better.

-Phoenix.  There are two Phoenix in Division I, in Elon and Wisconsin-Green Bay.  I’m giving UW-GB the nod since I’ve never heard of Elon.  The Phoenix: giving the Packers a run for their money.

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The Pherocious Phoenix represents two schools.

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Home on the Range

-Bison(s).  A decent nickname that is pluralized in two different ways.  Bucknell and Howard go by Bison, whereas Lipscomb and North Dakota State use Bisons.  Which is right?  Bison is probably more grammatical, but corners can be cut in a moniker.  Of the four, Bucknell has the most exposure and alliteration to boot.

-Mustangs.  Hard to believe that there are no Mustangs at a pro level and only two in Division I.  Cal-Poly and Southern Methodist both ride their wild ponies into the sunset.  SMU certainly owns the moniker.

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SMU owns the Mustangs for the time being

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Unknown Soldiers

-Knights.  Two colleges make use of one of the most underutilized and basic nicknames–the Knights.  Those two are Central Florida and Farleigh Dickinson.  Army uses a variant (Black Knights) and Rutgers goes by the Scarlet Knights.  Of all of them, I’ll give Rutgers the suit of armor.

-Spartans.  There are five schools that use Spartans.  San Jose and Norfolk State may rattle their sabres, but this moniker belongs to Michigan State.

-Trojans.  Arkansas-Little Rock, Troy, and USC all use Trojans.  Troy is a no-brainer, but of course–this nickname belongs to Los Angeles.

-Colonels.  Eastern Kentucky and Nicholls State both use Colonels as a handle.  I’m going with Eastern Kentucky because their mascot intentionally looks like Colonel Sanders.

-Crusaders.  Holy Cross and Valparaiso both make interesting use of the moniker, but I’m going with Valpo because they have a better logo.

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Valparaiso’s logo makes Holy Cross look like holy crap.

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Everyday People

-Pioneers.  Denver and Sacred Heart both use Pioneers.  Boy, it’s such a shame that the Portland Trailblazers aren’t the Portland Pioneers.  This is an underutilized name.

-Colonials.  George Washington and Robert Morris both call themselves the Colonials.  It must only be acceptable for this moniker to be attached to a college with a person’s full name as the name of the school.

-Gaels.  This is a reference to Irish ancestry that is used by Iona and St. Mary’s.  I’ll give Iona the luck of the Irish.

-Highlanders.  This is typically a reference to Scottish ancestry, and Cal-Riverside, NJIT, and Radford all wear the kilt with roughly equal notoriety, or lack thereof.  Notoriety I mean, not lack of a kilt.

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A moniker that would make Christopher Lambert proud.

-Dukes.  Duquesne and James Madison use Dukes, and I’ll give the victory to Duquesne for the uber-alliteration.

-Lumberjacks.  Stephen F. Austin and Northern Arizona both go by Lumberjacks, though neither achieves Paul Bunyan status.

-Mountaineers.  Surprisingly, there are three Mountaineers: Appalachian State, Mount St. Mary’s, and West Virginia–the clear leader.

-Aggies.  Ah, that classic moniker favored by cow colleges far and wide.  Five colleges; Cal-Davis, North Carolina A&T, New Mexico State, Texas A&M, and Utah State all get Aggie with it.  Texas A&M is certainly the most noteworthy, and thus: the Aggie trophy is theirs.

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Aggies: the preferred moniker of cow colleges from coast to coast.

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The “I don’t think so” Pairs.

These monikers are fairly unique words that are shared by two colleges, and are therefore mentionable in this post.  However, the pairs all consist of one large college that is utterly synonymous with their nickname and another that is essentially totally unknown.  As such, the well-known monikers will carry through to the “unique names” round, while the lesser-known schools are basically ignored.  There are three that stand out:

-Blue Devils.  Duke really owns this nickname.  It’s inconsequential that it happens to also be the mascot of Central Connecticut State University.

-Gamecocks.  I was game-shocked to hear that South Carolina is not the only ‘Cock in town.  Jacksonville State also rocks Gamecocks.  It’s South Carolina’s.

-Wolverines.  This one nearly slides as wolverines are simply fierce creatures–common characteristics in a moniker.  But I don’t think so, Utah Valley.  Michigan is not only the Wolverine State, but they have one of the best overall athletic departments in the country.  They pass to round three.

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Nice try, Utah Valley State. Wolverines belongs to Michigan.

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Ah, yes.  Round three…I guess we’re calling it that now.  In this study, we’ve powered through the 70% or so of Division I nicknames that are fairly boring.  Thus far, they’ve been nicknames that are shared by another team in Division I or the Big Four.  For the next installment, we’re looking at the sometimes original, unique, bizarre, fun, and also horrendous nicknames that are one of a kind.  Looking forward to it.

NCAA Moniker Study Part 1: the Copycats

NCAA Moniker Study Part 2: Wildcats, Cougars, and Bulldogs, oh my!

NCAA Moniker Study Part 3: From Anteaters to Zips

NCAA Moniker Study Part 4: the Top 100 Nicknames in Division I

SPORT CHANGE

Now that we’ve said about all there is to say about pro sports nicknames, let’s take a look at the amateur levels.  Since the NCAA basketball season is in full swing and the college football season is getting toward the bowl frenzy, it’s a great time to take a look at collegiate monikers in the NCAA.

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NCAA:  Nicknames Can Articulate Archetypes

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For this multi-part study, we’re taking a look at monikers of Division I schools only.  I’m sure there are scores of noteworthy monikers in Division II and III (the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs jump to mind) we’re narrowing our gaze to Division I.  Narrowing our gaze to an in-depth analysis of about 350 schools!

This study will be presented in at least four installments, and for Part 1 we’re looking at the schools who share a moniker with at least one pro sports team in the Big Four.  In some cases, they are the copycats; though who is copying who is up for debate.  There are several groups of schools even within that specific category, so let’s waste no more time digging in.  Sport Change will offer a description and then pick the team that wears the nickname the best.

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Who is the top cat?

The Big Three.  Of those monikers that are shared with pro sports teams, there are three nicknames that are utterly ubiquitous in the college ranks.  These are Tigers, Eagles, and Panthers.  Tigers boasts representation of thirteen schools, Eagles has nine, and Panthers has eight.  Almost nine percent of all 347 teams have one of these three handles.  Let’s take a look at them:

-Tigers.  Though the Detroit Tigers certainly wear their moniker well, ‘Tigers’ is broad and obvious enough that Detroit doesn’t ‘own’ the nickname.  Not only is Tigers represented 13 times in Division I, the quality of those athletic programs is surprisingly good.  The big six here are Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Memphis, Missouri, and we’ll throw Princeton in there too.  So who owns it?  Hard to say.  I tend to sway toward the football side of things, and in that case it’s either Clemson, LSU, or Mizzou.  Auburn may be very visible, but the blue/orange, ‘war eagle,’ and letter logo don’t exactly roar.  All three make a compelling case, but I’m going with Clemson due to the tiger paw print and inescapable orange.

-Eagles.  This is another broad-swath nickname that the Philly Eagles can’t claim 100% stake on.  We’ll discuss variations on the theme (Golden Eagles, etc.) later.  Of the nine Division I teams that carry simply the Eagles nickname, Boston College stands out the clear leader.

-Panthers.  Carolina and Florida both use Panthers in the Big Four, but both of those teams are less than 20 years old, and have yet to fully own the moniker.  Of the eight Division I schools, Pittsburgh is the clear leader.

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Not exactly the most prominent Panther

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The 3-5ers.  These monikers are used by 3-5 schools in addition to being used by a pro team.  Bears and Broncos have 5, Hawks, Bobcats, and Rams have 4, and Cardinals, Cowboys, Hornets, Jaguars, Lions, and Pirates have 3.

-Bears.  Chicago nearly owns this nickname, but I mean…it’s Bears.  That’s like when Donald Trump tried to trademark “you’re fired.”  Of the 5, Baylor is the clear leader.

-Bobcats.  I was quite surprised to see that Charlotte shares a moniker with four other schools.  The one that I knew of (Ohio) is the clear leader over Montana State, Qunnipiac, and Texas-San Marcos.  If Charlotte goes back to being the Bobcats, I think Ohio would own the nickname, so to speak.

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What about Bobcats?

-Broncos/Broncs.  Denver has pretty good control of this moniker, but five colleges may beg to differ.  One in particular, Boise State, makes it’s case.  Or whinnies it’s case.

-Cardinals.  I don’t think anybody can claim more ownership of ‘Cardinals’ than St. Louis, but of the three in D-I, Louisville wears it best.  Not to slight Ball State and Lamar.

-Cowboys.  Dallas owns this nickname.  I’m giving Wyoming the nod over Oklahoma State and McNeese due to the all-in nature of Wyoming U’s embrace of the Cowboys moniker.

Oklahoma State may be more visible, but Wyoming comes closest to Dallas to owning 'Cowboys.'

Oklahoma State may be more visible, but Wyoming comes closest to Dallas to owning ‘Cowboys.’

-Hawks.  Atlanta has a loose grip at best, and there are many variations on theme.  Of the four schools with just ‘Hawks’ there is no clear leader, so I’ll pick Monmouth over Hartford, St. Joseph’s, and Maryland Eastern.

-Hornets.  New Orleans seems to be rejecting the moniker, but Alabama State, Cal-Sacramento, and Delaware State don’t exactly make compelling cases.  Let’s say Charlotte owns the moniker.

-Jaguars.  Jacksonville has an unsteady grasp on this handle, and I’m giving Southern the edge over IUPUI and South Alabama because Southern has the best logo.

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Jacksonville could take some tips from Southern’s graphic designer

-Lions.  Detroit is most prominent, but Lions is very general.  Columbia may be an Ivy Leaguer, but I’m letting Loyola Marymount carry the banner simply because I really enjoyed “The Guru of Go,” a 30 for 30 documentary about the run & shoot basketball offense.

-Pirates.  Pittsburgh rocks it, but again: general.  I say that Seton Hall and East Carolina tie.  Sorry Hampton.

-Rams.  St. Louis carries the moniker that Los Angeles still owns, but there are four formidable reps in Division I.  I’m giving Virginia Commonwealth the slight nod over Fordham, Colorado State, and Rhode Island.

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Rams is a great nickname. No butts about it.

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The 2fers.  These nicknames are two-time name-sharers.  When it gets down to these dregs, it really makes you question if the college copied the name or if was just bizarre coincidences.  Those with two are: Braves, Bruins, Buccaneers, Bulls, Falcons, Flames, 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks, Titans, and Vikings.

-Braves.  General enough.  Atlanta owns it, but Alcorn State get the college nod.

-Bruins.  Who owns this moniker?  Boston or UCLA?  One thing we can agree on…it’s not Belmont.

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UCLA: giving Smokey the Bear a run for his money

-Buccaneers.  Don’t think that Charleston Southern or East Tennessee can wrest the handle away from Tampa, but we’ll say ETU over CSU because of a cooler logo.

-Falcons.   Atlanta is most prominent, certainly.  I don’t ever hear of Air Force using the Falcons moniker, so I’m giving Bowling Green the nod.

-Bulls.  Chicago claims it, but it’s general enough.  South Florida and Buffalo both make strong cases…we’ll call it a draw–horn to horn.

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Move over Bills, here come the Bulls

-Flames.  Any relation to Calgary must be purely incidental.  Illinois-Chicago or Liberty?  How about Liberty because it’s such a bad pun.  At least they’re not the Bells.

-Raiders.  It’s Oakland’s, or Los Angeles’s at least.  I’ll give Colgate the nod over Wright State.  Raiders with fresh breath.

-Titans.  The NFL team is too new to claim any ownership.  Cal-Fullerton and Detroit use Titans, but neither has the sweet  alliteration like Tennessee.

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The elephant is a headscratcher. Cousin of the Crimson Tide creature?

-Seahawks.  For such an odd nickname, it’s mighty suspicious that there are two colleges and an NFL team with the name.  Who’s copying whom?  No clear leader.

-Vikings.  General enough that Minnesota can’t claim total use rights.  So Portland State or Cleveland State?  Whoever wants it gets it.

-49ers.  Shocked to hear that Charlotte and Long Beach both use 49ers.  Obviously, Frisco owns it.  At least Long Beach is in the Golden State, so they get the nod.  I’ve never heard about the North Carolina gold rush of 1849.

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The great Carolina Gold Rush

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The Singles.  Teams that are the only sharers of a pro team nickname are: Bengals, Blue Jays, Cavaliers, Dolphins, Ducks, Flyers, Grizzlies, Hurricanes, Islanders, Mavericks, Patriots, Penguins, Rockets, Saints, and Warriors.

-Bengals.  Really, Idaho State?  This moniker works on a college level much better than the NHL, however vague it might be.

-Penguins.  Youngstown State uses the Penguins moniker, and it’s really a fun mascot at a semipro level.  Unfortunately for YSU, Pittsburgh owns this moniker.

-Dolphins.  The Jacksonville Dolphins.  Hmm.  At least Miami U isn’t called the Jaguars.

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Apparently Jacksonville denizens can claim Jaguars and Dolphins

-Blue Jays.  Creighton rocks this nickname independently of the Toronto baseballers.  No harm, no fowl.  (ha)

-Cavaliers.  Virginia wears this one better than Cleveland, but both are OK.

-Ducks.  It’s easy to forget this one, since the NHL team is more memorable as the Mighty Ducks.  Either way, Oregon owns this nickname.

-Grizzlies.  Montana owns this nickname.  It shouldn’t be in Memphis at all.

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A nickname to make Memphis hoops fans feel grizzled.

-Flyers.  Dayton’s moniker operates apart from Philly’s NHL team.  It works.

-Mavericks.  The University of Texas-Arlington may have copycatted this name from Dallas’s NBA team.

-Warriors.  Hawaii changed from Rainbow Warriors to just warriors.  Nice.  It’s general enough that they absolutely make it work.  One of my favorites in all of Division I.

-Rockets.  Toledo launches this moniker independently of Houston.

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Five! Four! Three! Two! Ledo!

-Patriots.  I think this is general enough to be fair game.  Does anybody care that George Mason uses it?

-Hurricanes.  It’s a shame that we even have to put Miami on this list.  Carolina of the NHL should’ve picked a different name.  Oh well, maybe they’ll move.

-Islanders.  Like New York, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is a place reference.

-Saints.  The funny thing is that Siena uses a Saint Bernard for their logo.  Nice.  Now that’s a semi-pro moniker!

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Roll over, Beethoven. He comes Siena.

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Variations on the Theme

There are several Division I monikers that are similar to pro team names, but with an adjective in front of them.  They run the gamut, so let’s pick them apart one by one.

Bears.  The Maine Black Bears have a great name.  It doesn’t actually bring the Chicago Bears to mind, and it seems regionally relevant.  Cal Golden Bears works well considering that there’s a golden bear right on California’s state flag.

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Now that’s a loud logo!

Grizzlies.  The Oakland Golden Grizzlies are interesting.  That’s mighty close to the moniker of next door’s Cal-Berkeley, and it’s not like Grizzlies are roaming the streets of Oakland.  Whatever–it’s still better than Memphis Grizzlies.  [EDIT: the Golden Grizzlies apparently play in Oakland, Michigan.  Thanks for the heads up to reader Joel!  Either way, still much better than Memphis!]

Hurricanes.  This doesn’t exactly fit the category, but it seems like the best place to mention the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.  That’s right.  The Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

Devils.  It’s probably inconsequential that there’s a hockey team named the New Jersey Devils, but we’ll call it due diligence.  The Arizona State Sun Devils make it work terrifically.  Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.  Since there are two Blue Devils, we’ll discuss them in another post.

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Arizona State is the best representation of Devils. Stick a fork in the rest.

Hawks.  Many variations on the theme.  We already mentioned the two Seahawks users, but Hawk variations run deep.  For starters, there are the Kansas Jayhawks.  KU nearly transcends the hawk-moniker, but it remains nonetheless.  Redhawks is used twice, with Miami of Ohio being more memorable than Southeast Missouri State.  The Lehigh Mountain Hawks, Tennessee Martin Skyhawks, and Northeastern State Riverhawks simply attach a natural term to hawks–similar to Seahawks.  The Louisiana Monroe Warhawks try to add some teeth…or beak, I guess.

Lions.  Arkansas Pine Bluff goes by the name of Golden Lions.  Kind of cool, if a little confusing.  Penn State has the Nittany Lions–whatever that means.

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I’m not sure what a ‘Golden Lion’ is, but it’s certainly ferocious.

Panthers.  In addition to the eight just Panthers, there’s Florida International Golden Panthers.  I have to say that ‘Golden’ is perhaps the best adjective to stick in front of an animal name.

Raiders.  There’s two here.  The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. What do they mean?  Your guess (or research) is as good as mine.

Eagles.  There are a whopping four Golden Eagles.  Since that’s an actual bird, I guess you could say it stands on it’s own.  I’d say Marquette and Southern Miss can duke it out for who owns it best, though I may give Southern Miss the edge since Marquette changed their name more recently.  Oral Roberts and Tennessee Tech are the other two.  Then there is another eagle variation: the Niagara Purple Eagles.  Wow.  Just wow.

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Purple Eagles is at least more intimidating than Pink Hawks.

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Alright.  That’s about all there is to say about Division I schools that share a moniker (or a variation) with a pro team.  Next up will be the names that have no pro counterpart, but are repeated nonetheless.  In other words, there will be Bulldogs.  Stay tuned.

NCAA Moniker Study Part 1: the Copycats

NCAA Moniker Study Part 2: Wildcats, Cougars, and Bulldogs, oh my!

NCAA Moniker Study Part 3: From Anteaters to Zips

NCAA Moniker Study Part 4: the Top 100 Nicknames in Division I

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