Ranking the Pac-12 Mascots

Pac-12 Mascots ranked

Posted on August 24, 2018 by: Dan Krikorian

The final hours of summer are upon us. Sad, yes, but as the sun begins to set on the West Coast’s last crashing waves and outdoor concert festivals, a new hope arises…football season.  What a sweet time of year as anticipation of a fresh season hovers in the distance! Who will march steadily toward a Playoff berth? Who will win the Pac-12 North? Who will outrun the competition in the Heisman race? Who will land in the coveted Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl?

Before these questions can be answered, though, one more important must be settled…which school has the best mascot in the Pac-12? The fan bases of these twelve prestigious schools have argued for years in favor of their own beloved bear, duck, or tree.  Tree? Yes, we’ll get to that.

If you’re tired of smart, data-driven rankings, or logical and concrete arguments supported by facts; if you’re searching for a list that is packed with unabashed biases and more swagger than substance…this is your definitive list. Note: these are the mascots, not the name of the school’s team.

The Pac-12’s Best Mascots:

  1. Cal’s Oski the Bear


Well, the list had to start somewhere and Cal, I’m sorry, 12th place is yours. Oski the Bear doesn’t necessarily impose fear in his opponents and I’ve heard rumors he teaches two courses on Biostatistics and Genetics.  Kudos to Oski, though, as he’s most likely smarter than all of us and doesn’t waste time or brain power on these types of lists.

  1.  Utah’s Swoop

utah Swoop

Sorry Utah, there were twelve guys at the park to play pick-up and sometimes the team captains just don’t see all the little things you do on the floor. You’ve got next game though. Swoop is a bit odd, right? A red-tailed hawk as the mascot for the Utes? He does boast some Popey-like biceps and has been known to do one-handed push-ups at football and basketball games, so there’s that. Swoop is also pretty tall, which leads some to believe inside that giant red-tailed hawk is Keith Van Horn.

  1. UCLA’s Joe Bruin

Joe Bruin.jpg









Sorry UCLA, Joe is just your average bear with Anthony Davis-worthy eyebrows. He at least dresses in uniform.  Don’t fret UCLA fans, Chip Kelly’s offensive system will have Joe in great shape in no time.  Also, your school is still pretty dang popular.

  1. Oregon State’s Benny Beaver

Benny Beaver

I’ll be honest, I kind of like Benny. The earliest Benny Beaver cartoons were created by the famous graphic illustrator, and Disney employee, Arthur C. Evans. That’s neat. Yet Benny is just a bit too lovable to land higher on this list and take on the most serious contenders. 

  1. Washington State’s Butch T. Cougar

Butch T Cougar.png

Butch is cool, really cool. He has a very active Twitter account and has been known to make appearances with Washington State’s dance/cheer squad. Legend has it that Butch was the one who asked Head Football Coach, Mike Leach, this infamous question about marriage advice… Good for you, Butch.

  1. Washington’s Harry the Husky

Harry the Husky.jpg

One of Harry the Husky’s claims to fame came when he was mentioned in Marlon Wayans’ 1997 tear-jerking basketball film, The 6th Man. I cried like a small child when I first saw that movie, which I worked through emotionally on my 1st album, but that’s another story.  Harry is classic looking and has a legit chance to showcase his talents this year if Washington can make a run to the College Football Playoff.

  1. The Stanford Tree

Stanford Tree.jpg

Ok…I know what some of you are thinking, “the Stanford Tree is ranked way too high!” Others are screaming, “the Tree is ranked way too low!” I hear you both, so I put this thing right square in the middle of the rankings to adequately upset both camps. The Tree is confusing and ugly and ironic, but I like it. In a world that at times loses sight of that fact that football is really just kids playing a game on a Saturday afternoon, the Tree reminds us to not take things too seriously, because in the end, we’ll all be working for the Stanford kids someday. We know it, and they know it.

  1. Arizona’s Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat

Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat.jpg

Wilbur and Wilma crack the top five for two main reasons, The Hat and The Chemistry. First, The Hat. I mean look at that thing. If you saw Wilbur at a bar you would buy him a drink on the spot. And then you add Wilma to the mix and you have yourself a top five mascot combination.  Arizona has been under a bit of fire lately, so hopefully the good news of a Top Five mascot will calm the nerves.

  1. USC’s Traveler


The two Trojan-bleeding hosts of The Checkdown Podcast will cringe at USC’s 4th position here. Stay calm guys, USC still comes out way ahead of UCLA, which is sort of a trend. Traveler does have a majestic and conquering look about him and live animal mascots get extra points in this poll. Fight on. If you don’t already know how great a mascot Traveler is, give it a second, a Trojan fan will surely tell you.

  1. Colorado’s Ralphie

Colorado Ralphie.jpg

Imagine for a second you are a student at Colorado… You attend a couple of pre-game activities, cram into the crowded student-section, take a deep breath of that fresh mountain air, and then right before kick-off…a large, living, glorious bison storms the field. I would lose my mind. I’m losing my mind now and I’m just writing about it. Once again, being a live mascot gets extra points, and a bison is just really cool and should hopefully satisfy the Colorado student body.

  1. Arizona State’s Sparky

ASU Sparky.jpg

Arizona State’s Sparky is a mixture of all the things you want in a mascot. He’s intimidating, cocky, and more than likely the fittest mascot of the bunch.  Sparky was also designed by a Disney illustrator who was said to have fashioned his face after that of his boss’, Walt Disney. Let’s see if Herm Edwards can help Arizona State climb as high in the Pac-12 rankings as Sparky has.

  1. The Oregon Duck

The Oregon Duck.jpg

We’ve seen some pretty cool mascots throughout this list, but none is cooler than The Oregon Duck.  He’s fashionable, fun, and just so darn iconic it’s hard not to have him on top. He has an unofficial nickname of “Puddles”, which is awesome, and you match his green and gold with the always cutting edge uniforms of Oregon, and the marriage of Oregon and it’s Duck is just quite a thing. Plus, the way he enters games at Autzen Stadium is just the cherry on top. 

Now that the mascot debate has been settled, we may now proceed to what promises to be a memorable and outstanding season of college football. Best of luck to you all.

*Dan Krikorian is a part-time contributor to The Checkdown Podcast, a professor and basketball coach at Chapman University, and a stellar musician. Find his music here for your listening pleasure.

6 thoughts on “Ranking the Pac-12 Mascots

  1. Swoop is way too high… Much better then a tree and all Bear mascots should be at the bottom (too many of them).

    1. Appreciate the input. While we agree that there are a lot of bears (some may say too many), Swoop is not a Ute. Not even really sure what a Ute is, but it definitely isn’t a red tailed hawk. That brought his rating down!

  2. Well done Dan. I, too, love the tree and Oski’s letterman’s sweater gives him serious old-school appeal (my demographic). It if walks like a Duck and … (well it should be waddling well down the list in my opinion), And your awe-inspired take on Ralphie clearly reveals why he should run roughshod over this Pac of pretenders. I will never again think of ASU without conjuring the image of a smiling Walt Disney (not sure I should thank you for that).

    1. Thanks Barry! It’s true that Oski probably gets a bad rap and could’ve received more old-school points, and I too am not sure if I’ll be able to look at Sparky from ASU the same way lol. Thanks for reading and I hope life is well!

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