Top Five Strangest Athletic Nicknames

With over 300 college and universities registered with the NCAA for Division I athletics, some of those schools have some unique nicknames you won’t find anywhere else. The pride from fans dating all the way back to the founding of the school is what makes these nicknames stick with the athletic programs. Here is a list of the top five oddest Division I nicknames.

 1. Ohio State Buckeyes

 We all know and most of us love Ohio State for their athletic abilities in the Big Ten Conference, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that many of us most likely don’t know what a Buckeye is. In fact, a Buckeye is a nut that resembles a deer’s eye; who would have thought! In 1953, the Ohio legislature designated the Ohio Buckeye as the official state tree. Now known as “Brutus Buckeye”, the mascot was made official in 1965 with minor changed made to its appearance since then.

2. Presbyterian Blue Hose

This is definitely not the image I had when thinking of a hose! Being the most recent addition to the Big South Conference grants this school a lot of attention, and I think having the nickname “Blue Hose” adds to that as well. The name dates all the back to the early 1900’s when sports reporters would refer to the school’s athletic teams as the “Blue Stockings’ because of the color socks the teams wore. In these early years, writhers often interchanged “stockings” and “hose” when referring to socks. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the student body officially adopted the “Blue Hose” as their school nickname.

3. Saint Louis Billikens

Now, this is a nickname that for sure developed a lot of love from its fans all over Missouri. The Atlantic Ten Conference school has one of the oddest good luck charms since 1908 when the beloved image was created by a Saint Louis art professor and hasn’t been changed since. Manufactured in the early 1900’s, the “Billiken” was all the rage with its unforgettable face on just about everything you could think of. It is believed, but uncertain, that the name “Billiken” came from a poem written by the Canadian poet, Bliss Carman. It was somewhere between 1910 and 1911 that Saint Louis University adopted the strange creature as their own nickname for so that people could remember that time period for generations to come.

4. Idaho Vandals

If you pull out your dictionary to find this definition, you might get something like; “A member of a Germanic people who lived in the area south of the Baltic Sea and in northern Africa during the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.” Or, you may find the real meaning behind the name for the Pacific Coast Conference members which was given to them by their head basketball coach in 1917, Hec Edmundson. Student newspaper writer Harry Lloyd tagged the basketball team with the nickname during a pregame write-up which called the team “a gang of Vandals” because of how they won all their games by a good amount. By 1921, the deal of the College of Liberal Arts, Edward Maslin Hulme, adopted the nickname for all Idaho teams.

5. UNC Tar Heels

As one of the oldest state universities, the Atlantic Costal Conference member got their nickname from a term that dates back to the Civil War. What was once thought of as a degrading comment for someone who worked in a lowly trade, the term “tar heel” has since then been changed into an expression of state pride. In the 1880’s, the universities’ teams began competing in sports and needed a nickname quickly. It was with little effort and no debate that the school adopted “Tar Heel” as their nickname to express the same spirit and pride their home state possessed. The university still to this day is never questioned about their love for the athletic teams and fans.

Featured image courtesy of STL Today.


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