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Jayhawks, Hoyas & Owls (Oh My!): How 21 Schools Got Their Nicknames

March Madness starts today, which means you're going to be tossing team nicknames around like crazy for the next few weeks. Do you know where these mascots came from, though? What the heck is a Hoya? Would you know a Gaucho if you saw one? Let's take a look at the origins of some of the tournament teams' mascots.

1. Georgetown Hoyas
The origins of the Hoya nickname are a bit murky, but the school thinks it originated in the 1890s. Students created a mixed Greek and Latin cheer of "Hoya Saxa!" (which translates into "What Rocks!") to inspire either the school's baseball or football teams. By 1920, "Hoya" had become a popular saying on campus, and by 1928 the nickname was firmly stuck to the school's teams.

Georgetown's original dog mascot, a pit bull named Stubby, actually fought in World War I before becoming associated with the school. He earned a promotion to sergeant by capturing an enemy spy and later delighted Georgetown crowds by pushing a football around the field at halftime.

2. Temple Owls
When Temple was founded in 1884, it was a night school, so people jokingly referred to its students as "night owls." When the school started fielding teams, it was only natural to call them the Owls.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes
A buckeye is a small, dark brown nut with a light brown patch on it. Carrying a buckeye is supposedly good luck; some superstitious people (like me) won't leave the house without one in their pocket. The buckeye tree is Ohio's state tree, and Ohio residents have been referred to as Buckeyes since 1788. Hence, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

4. UCSB Gauchos

UCSB-MascotUC Santa Barbara's teams call themselves the Gauchos, a term that's broadly applied to residents of South America's grasslands. It loosely translates into "cowboy," which explains why UCSB's logo includes the school's initials and a dark face glowering beneath an Argentine cowboy hat. [Image courtesy of CSTV.]

5. Kansas Jayhawks
According to the school's website, the mythical jayhawk is a combination of two birds: the belligerent blue jay and the quiet, deadly sparrow hawk. During the 1850s, there was a lot of violence regarding whether or not Kansas would enter the union as a free or slave state, and the militant free staters eventually became known as Jayhawkers. The fictitious bird eventually became a symbol of Kansas' commitment to freedom, and in 1912 a student drew a depiction of the bird. The bird wore shoes so it could kick opponents.

6. Purdue Boilermakers
In 1891, Purdue's football rivalry with Wabash was thriving. Purdue's team took a trip to Crawfordsville and thumped Wabash 44-0. The next day the local paper in Crawfordsville depicted the Purdue squad as conquering bullies and ran the headline: "Slauther of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue." Instead of being offended, Purdue's teams ran with the nickname.

robert-morris-mascot
7. Robert Morris Colonials
This one's not too tough; financier Robert Morris was a bigshot during colonial times. Morris signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, and he helped finance the American side during the Revolutionary War. [Image courtesy of Flickr user dietzy2320.]

8. Cornell Big Red
In 1905, Cornell alum Romeyn Berry was trying to write a fight song, but he hit a snag. The school didn't have a mascot for him to reference. To solve this problem, he called Cornell "the big red team," and eventually fans just started calling their squads the Big Red.

9. East Tennessee State Buccaneers
The Buccaneer is a fine mascot for a coastal school, but ETSU is decidedly landlocked. What gives? According to the university's website, a series of subterranean rivers runs through tunnels in the mountains near the school's campus. According to legend these waterways, known as Pirate Creek, were once home to pirate Jean Paul LeBucque, who had fled from the coast to hide his treasure. Thus, an inland school has a pirate mascot.

10. Tennessee Volunteers
This one comes from Tennessee's nickname, the Volunteer State. During the War of 1812, President Madison asked Andrew Jackson to find 1500 fellow Tennesseans to voluntarily help him fight the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Later, during the Mexican War, Tennessee's governor put out a call for 2800 men to help battle Santa Anna, but 30,000 volunteers showed up. All of this voluntary participation earned the state, and later its biggest college, a nickname.

wake-forest.jpg11. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake's teams originally called themselves the Tigers, but that name didn't stick. People started referring to the squads as "the Baptists" due to the school's religious affiliation, and when the football team beat archrival Trinity (which would later become Duke) in 1923, student newspaper editor Mayon Parker dubbed them the "Demon Deacons" to honor both their Baptist affiliations and "devilish" play.

12. North Texas Mean Green
The vicious play of football star "Mean" Joe Greene may have given rise to the school's current moniker. According to one story touted by the university, Sidney Sue Graham, the wife of sports information director Fred Graham, called Greene "mean" following a brutal tackle during his late-1960's career at the school. She then began calling the entire smothering defensive unit the "Mean Green," and although Graham initially dismissed his wife's newly coined phrase, he eventually used it in a press release that caught on with reporters.

13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
There's some debate about how the Fighting Irish nickname affixed itself to Notre Dame. Some people say the media started calling the teams the Fighting Irish because the Catholic school's teams played with the ferocity and grit people associate with the Irish.

Others say the nickname came from the Union Army's Irish Brigade, while yet another story claims the name was born at an 1899 away football game at Northwestern where the home crowd chanted "Kill the Fighting Irish!"

14. California Golden Bears
In 1895 Cal's powerhouse track team went on the road to challenge top college powers back East in a series of meets. Arthur Rodgers, a university regent, commissioned a blue banner decorated with a gold grizzly bear for the team to carry on its journey. The team kicked some serious tail, and a nickname was born.

15. Sam Houston State Bearkats
This odd spelling has been around since the school abandoned its previous nickname, the Normals, in 1923. According to SHSU, the name probably doesn't refer to any sort of animal; instead, it reflects a popular 1920s saying on campus, "Tough as a Bearkat!"

blue-blob-xavier16. Xavier Musketeers
Xavier actually has two mascots. D'Artagnan the Musketeer has been around since 1925; the idea of using a French musketeer came about because the school had strong ties to French culture in its early days. The other mascot, the Blue Blob, has a more mysterious back-story. The school may have developed the Blue Blob because the heavily armed D'Artagnan terrified small children, but others claim that the school won the Blue Blob as part of a Skyline Chili promotion in the 1980s.

17. New Mexico Lobos
According to the school, it picked the Spanish word for "wolf" as its nickname in 1920. The school paper wrote, "The Lobo is respected for his cunning, feared for his prowess, and is the leader of the pack. It is the ideal name for the Varsity boys who go forth to battle for the glory of the school. All together now; fifteen rahs for the LOBOS."

18. UTEP Miners
This one's pretty straightforward. When the school was founded in 1914 it was known as the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy. It later became Texas Western and then UTEP, but the mining heritage hangs around in the school's mascot.

19. Vermont Catamounts
Vermont got its Catamount nickname through a democratic vote. In 1926 the student newspaper UVM Cynic ran a poll asking students to vote for the wildcat or lynx as the school's mascot. The response was tepid at best, so the paper gave it another try later in the school year. This time the options were the camels, tomcats, cows, or catamounts. "The Catamounts" took the day by grabbing 138 votes to the other options' combined 126.

20. Murray State Racers
Murray State's teams were originally known as the Thoroughbreds in a nod to Kentucky's racing tradition, but newspaper editors had trouble cramming such a long word into headlines. Eventually they started shortening it to "Racers" to save space, and in 1961 the school officially changed its nickname to the shorter version.

21. Minnesota Golden Gophers
According to the school's website, Minnesota has been known as "the Gopher State" since an 1857 cartoon depicted local politicians as gophers pulling a locomotive. Thus, the school's teams eventually became the Gophers. The "golden" part came later. In the 1930s the football team wore gold jerseys and gold pants, so a radio announcer started calling them the "Golden Gophers."

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Martin Wittfooth
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Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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entertainment
11 Magical Facts About Willow
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Five years after the release of Return of the Jedi (1983) and four years after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), George Lucas gave audiences the story for another film about an unlikely hero on an epic journey, but this time he had three Magic Acorns and a taller friend instead of a whip and gun to help him along. Willow (1988) was directed by Ron Howard and starred former Ewok and future Leprechaun, Warwick Davis.

Over the past few decades, Willow—which was released 30 years ago today—has become a cult classic that's been passed down from generation to generation. Before you sit down to explore that world again (or for the first time), here are 11 things you might not have know about Willow.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN FOR WARWICK DAVIS.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Warwick Davis revealed that George Lucas first mentioned the idea for the film to Davis’s mother during the filming of one of the Ewok TV specials in 1983, in which he was reprising his role as Wicket. Lucas had been developing the idea for more than a decade at that point, but working with Davis on Return of the Jedi helped him realize the vision. “George just simply said that he had this idea, and he was writing this story, with me in mind,” Davis said. “He didn't say at that time that it was going to be called Willow. He said, 'It's not for quite yet; it's for a few years ahead, when Warwick is a bit older.'" The role was Davis’s first time not wearing a mask or costume on screen.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED MUNCHKINS.

Five years after he mentioned the idea, Lucas was ready to make his film with Ron Howard directing and a then-17-year-old Davis as the lead. The original title was presumably inspired by the characters from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the subsequent Victor Fleming film.

3. IT WAS CRITICIZED FOR BEING A COPY OF STAR WARS.

Having thought of the two worlds simultaneously, Lucas may have cribbed some of his own work and other well-known stories a little too much for Willow, and some critics noticed. “Without anything like [Star Wars’s] eager, enthusiastic tone, and indeed with an understandable weariness, Willow recapitulates images from Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver's Travels, Mad Max, Peter Pan, Star Wars itself, The Hobbit saga, Japanese monster films of the 1950s, the Bible, and a million fairy tales," wrote Janet Maslin of The New York Times. "One tiny figure combines the best attributes of Tinkerbell, the Good Witch Glinda, and the White Rock Girl.”

Later in her review, Maslin continued to point out the similarities between the two films: “When the sorcerer tells Willow to follow his heart, he becomes the Obi-Wan Kenobi of a film that also has its Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3P0 and Princess Leia stand-ins. Much energy has gone into the creation of their names, some of which (General Kael) have recognizable sources and others (Burglekutt, Cherlindrea, Airk) have only tongue-twisting in mind. Not even the names have anything like Star Wars-level staying power.”

4. IT WAS THE LARGEST CASTING CALL FOR LITTLE PEOPLE IN MOVIE HISTORY.

Lucas has previously cast several little people for roles in Return of the Jedi, and there were more than 100 actors hired to portray Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. But, according to Davis, the casting call for Willow was the largest ever at the time with between 225 and 240 actors hired for the film.

5. THE DEATH DOGS WERE REAL DOGS IN COSTUME.

The big bad in the film, Bavmorda, has demon dogs that terrorize Willow’s village. The dogs are more boar-like than canine, but they were portrayed by Rottweilers. The prop team outfitted the dogs with rubber masks and used animatronic heads for close-up scenes.

6. IT WAS THE FIRST USE OF MORPHING IN A FILM.

While trying to use magic to turn an animal back into a human, Willow fails several times before eventually getting it right, but he does succeed in turning the animal into another animal, which is shown in stages. To achieve this, the visual effects teamed used a technique known as "morphing."

The film’s visual effects supervisor, Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic, explained the technique to The Telegraph:

The way things had been up till that time, if a character had to change at some way from a dog into a person or something like that it could be done with a series of mechanical props. You would have to cut away to a person watching it, and then cut back to another prop which is pushing the ears out, for example, so it didn't look fake ... we shot five different pieces of film, of a goat, an ostrich, a tiger, a tortoise, and a woman and had one actually change into the shape of the other one without having to cut away. The technique is much more realistic because the cuts are done for dramatic reasons, rather than to stop it from looking bad.”

7. THE STORY WAS CONTINUED IN SEVERAL NOVELS.

Willow has yet to receive a sequel, but fans of the story can return to the world in a trilogy of books that author Chris Claremont wrote in collaboration with Lucas between 1995 and 2000. According to the Amazon synopsis of Shadow Moon, the first book picks up 13 years after the events of the film, and baby Elora Danan’s friendless upbringing has turned her into a “spoiled brat who seemingly takes joy in making miserable the lives around her. The fate of the Great Realms rests in her hands, and she couldn't care less. Only a stranger can lead her to her destiny.”

8. THERE IS A MISSING SCENE CONCERNING THE MAGIC ACORNS.

Hardcore fans of the film have noticed that there is a continuity error that involves the Magic Acorns Willow was given by the High Aldwin. During an interview with The Empire Podcast, Davis explained that in a scene near the end of the film, he throws a second acorn and is inexplicably out after having only used two of the three Magic Acorns he had been given earlier in the film. Included in the Blu-ray release is the cut scene, in which Willow uses an acorn (his second) in a boat during a storm and accidentally turns the boat to stone. Davis says that his hair is wet in the next scene that did make it into the original version of the film, but the acorn is never referenced.

9. JOHN CUSACK AUDITIONED FOR THE PART OF MADMARTIGAN.

Val Kilmer in 'Willow' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Val Kilmer famously played the role of the reluctant hero two years after played Iceman in Top Gun (1986), but he was not the only big name to audition for the role. Davis revealed in a commentary track that he once read with John Cusack, who in 1987 had already starred in Sixteen Candles (1984), Stand by Me (1986), and Hot Pursuit (1987).

10. THERE IS A NOD TO SISKEL AND EBERT.

During a battle scene later in the film, Willow and his compatriots have to fight a two-headed beast outside of the castle. The name of the stop motion beast is the Eborsisk, which is a combination of the names of famed film critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

11. THE BABY NEVER ACTED AGAIN.

A scene from 'Willow' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

As is the case with most shows and films, the role of the baby Elora was played by twins, in this case Kate and Ruth Greenfield. The IMDb pages for both actresses only has the one credit. In 2007, Davis shared a picture of him posing with a woman named Laura Hopkirk, who said that she played the baby for the scenes shot in New Zealand, but she is not credited online.

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