This past week, students have been sweating through tryouts, vying for the most important position in Boston University athletics: Rhett the Terrier, mascot extraordinare. Mascots really fascinate me. I can relate to them because I wear a costume at sporting events, too. However, they have it made: they can do things completely incognito, and they don’t even have to speak.
Anyway, I got to thinking about the America East mascots. We could talk Hockey East, but the America East mascots are far more germane to our daily sporting lives. Like everything in my life, I ranked the mascots. Here they are, from worst to best:
9. Howie the Hawk (Hartford) I hate Howie. I hate his big shoes. I hate the fact that he looks more like a duck than a hawk. And I hate the way he celebrates. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have to see many teams win conference titles other than BU, but one of the rare times I did was at Hartford for the women’s basketball title last year. I had to sit there and watch Howie attempt to stir the crowd into a frenzy. Something about that made me angrier than I could imagine.
8. Wild E. Cat (UNH) To me, the UNH mascot looks like the would-be child of Bugs Bunny and the Wile E. Coyote ‘-‘- which could be why his name is Wild E. Cat. There’s really nothing cool about Wild. He doesn’t make me want to watch UNH sports, and when I found out the college used to keep an actual Wildcat in a cage and bring it out for games back in the ’20s, I realized that things were much cooler back in the ’20s, and it’s all Wild’s fault for ruining that.
7. True Grit (UMBC) He’s rather new to the mascots of the AE, and he’s kind of lame. He’s not muscular or big or intimidating. He’s just a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who used to be called Fever. Now, for whatever reason, he is True Grit and only my seventh favorite AE mascot.
6. Rally Catamount (Vermont) What is a catamount? It’s really a cougar, but until I arrived at BU, I had never heard the word ‘catamount.’ Rally has only been around since 2003. Like Wild E. Cat, there’s really nothing special about him. There’s nothing catchy about his name; he doesn’t look especially cool. He’s just really muscular and just a little bit better than three other AE mascots.
5. Baxter the Bearcat (Binghamton) Bearcats sound like a bad ass mascot, right? In actuality, a bearcat’s body size resembles a bear, but its head and its behaviors more closely resemble those of a house cat. And its tail acts as a fifth hand. Baxter follows suit ‘-‘- he’s got huge whiskers, glossy eyes, and, like Baldwin from BC, little dignity. Baxter belongs in the middle of the pack.
4. Damien the Dane (Albany) He looks like a hungover Scooby Doo, so that’s kind of cool, right? That’s part of the reason he cracks the top half of the list. Actually, that’s the only reason.
3. Bananas T. Bear (Maine) Bananas is so highly ranked simply because of his name. If I had a pet monkey, I would name it Bananas. If I had a bear, I would definitely name it Bananas. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say Bananas is the coolest name for any pet or animal. Hell, I’m not even gonna stop there ‘-‘- my first born is getting named Bananas.
2. Wolfie the Seawolf (Stony Brook) Here’s a little anecdote explaining why Wolfie is the second-best mascot in the America East:
In 2005, at the America East men’s basketball tournament, during the fourth media timeout in the first half of a game between Stony Brook and Northeastern (which was in the AE back then), something epic happened. JJ Jumper, a mutant frog mascot that resembles what I picture would be an offspring from Courtney Love and a teenage Hulk, was parading around on the court, trying to get the crowd pumped for T-shirts.
JJ Jumper was the official mascot of the NCAA, but really, who would know that? Certainly not many of the people in attendance at the game knew. During JJ Jumper’s feeble attempts to hype the AE crowd, Wolfie decided to take it upon himself to clothesline JJ. Then, as JJ Jumper tried to get up, Wolfie finished him off with a Terry Tate Office Linebacker-esque tackle.
The crowd stood and cheered in disbelief and complete approval, while the PA announcer told Wolfie that wasn’t good behavior. The NCAA frowned upon Wolfie for hurting its poor, pathetic-looking mascot. But the crowd loved it, and isn’t that all that really matters?
1. Rhett the Terrier (BU) There’s no one better than Rhett. It’s rumored that Rhett is in line to get his own ‘This is SportsCenter’ commercial; of course, it’s all speculation. Regardless, Rhett’s a diesel ‘-‘- 6’3’, 200 pounds ‘-‘- and, as Baldwin remembers well from the 2006 Beanpot, Rhett plays a mean game of beer pong. He also has one of, if not the most, creative name in the conference. Plus, I’ve grown to love Rhett in a completely nonsexual way.
That’s my list. Good thing Stanford Tree isn’t part of the America East. That thing is a god among mascots.