By Mike Jordan Laskey
May 6, 2020 — In honor of this college graduation season that is weird, more bitter than sweet and just a huge bummer overall, here is a toast to this year’s graduates of the 27 Jesuit colleges and universities of the United States in the form of a list ranking all the institutions’ mascots. It’s the very least I can offer you.
These scientific rankings were compiled by evaluating each mascot (plus mascot-related logo) on a zero-to-10 scale in four different categories:
Originality: Is the mascot unique or dime-a-dozen?
Fear: Mascots are meant to intimidate the opponent. Am I afraid of it?
Whimsy: Mascots are also meant to be whimsical. It’s a tough balance, fear and whimsy.
Logo design: How fresh is the visual presentation of the mascot?
One note: Some schools’ mascots are different from their official nicknames. I’ll consider it all.
Another note: In the spirit of this contest, I will decide how to break ties arbitrarily and capriciously.
27. Seattle University Redhawks (9 points)
26. Boston College Eagles (10)
25. Marquette Golden Eagles (10)
Here’s the generic sports team birds section. Marquette and Seattle are to be commended for team nickname changes that the Washington, D.C. pro football team should take as instructive. But they could’ve picked something more interesting.
To soften the blow for these three schools, here are fun facts about them that are more important than mascots, anyway: Seattle University’s Chapel of St. Ignatius might be the most beautiful college chapel in the world; actress and comedian Amy Poehler went to Boston College; Marquette was the first Catholic university in the world to admit both women and men.
24. Scranton Royals (11)
23. John Carroll Blue Streaks (12)
22. Santa Clara Broncos (13)
21. Rockhurst Hawks (14)
20. Saint Joseph’s Hawks (14)
Why do two generic hawks round out the next tier? Rockhurst’s logo is weirder than you’d expect for a hawk and it’s working for me. The hawk mascot at Saint Joe’s flaps its wings the entire dang game, which is cute and earned it a lot of whimsy points.
19. Gonzaga Bulldogs (15)
18. Creighton Blue Jays (15)
17. Regis Rangers (15)
Regis gets an extra point for an adorable new fox mascot named Regi. But that logo is going to haunt my nightmares.
16. Loyola Marymount Lions (16)
15. Holy Cross Crusaders (17)
14. Loyola New Orleans Wolf Pack (17)
13. Fordham Rams (18)
12. Fairfield Stags (19)
11. Detroit Mercy Titans (19)
Detroit Mercy is here on the strength of their logo, which neatly fits the D and M together in a font that nods to the Detroit Tigers’ classic look.
10. Georgetown Hoyas (21)
9. Loyola Chicago Ramblers (21)
8. University of San Francisco Dons (22)
I’m glad Captain Hook from the animated “Peter Pan” watched Zorro and thought to himself, I could have a less terrorizing second career!
7. Spring Hill Badgers (25)
6. Xavier Musketeers (25)
Xavier is not in the top 6 because of the Musketeers, which is a fine but unspectacular nickname. They’re here for the Blue Blob, which was pioneered in the 1980s as a kid-friendly mascot, less scary than the musketeer. I really wish I could’ve sat in on the marketing meeting that led to the Blue Blob. Imagine being the person brave enough to pitch that. Anyway, I find the Blue Blob WAY scarier (and more whimsical) than the musketeer.
The Top 5
5. Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (26)
Greyhounds are awesome, athletic, underappreciated dogs. Slight demerit for removing the greyhound from their official logo a decade ago.
4. Canisius Golden Griffins (26)
Just look at this thing:
The lion and the eagle are boring mascots. But combine the two into a mythical griffin and OH MY GOODNESS I’m frightened AND delighted. My first instinct was that the griffin felt like a newer replacement mascot from the ‘90s. Nope — it goes back to 1932 and was an homage to the Le Griffon, the first ship to sail the upper Great Lakes in 1679.
3. Le Moyne Dolphins (29)
Are there dolphins in Upstate New York? Does anyone care? Dolphins rule. (The association goes back to Siracusa, Sicily — a much more aquatic spot and where Le Moyne’s home city gets its name.) The dolphin is also an ancient Christian symbol for fascinating reasons.
2. Saint Louis University Billikens (30)
I know what you’re asking, so let’s just go to the SLU website and ask them what in heaven’s name a Billiken is:
“The Billiken is a mythical good-luck figure who represents ‘things as they ought to be.’
Before he was Saint Louis University's mascot, he was a national sensation, a figure who was reproduced as dolls, marshmallow candies, metal banks, hatpins, pickle forks, belt buckles, auto-hood ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, bottles and more.
To buy a Billiken gives the purchaser luck, but to have one given to you is better luck.”
I find that it’s most helpful to not try to think about it too much. Just embrace the mystery.
1. Saint Peter’s University Peacocks (37)
Imagine you’re a small snake, enjoying life slithering around in some tall grasses. Suddenly, a peacock swoops down and you’re brunch. That’s right: Peacocks, birds so beautiful they could get by on looks alone, are also vicious hunters. But they’re not picky. Peacocks are omnivores — versatile, hardy, polite dinner guests. You’d be happy to have one over.
Until it screeches. Have you heard peacocks screech? Have you ever seen something so beautiful sound so scary? I took my little kids to a zoo once and a peacock was just walking around the human walkways and it looked so nice so we got up close. Then it opened its beak and I pushed the stroller as fast as I could in the opposite direction. What I’m saying is peacocks have it all. Plus, they never show up as mascots in major sports. It’s a sin, but Saint Peter’s benefits from this oversight.
The university’s logo, mascot and color scheme are so well done, perfect tributes to a perfect animal. Also, I’m imagining a peacock just strutting around the streets of Jersey City, where Saint Peter’s is located, and that’s the coolest image.
There you go, in a blowout: The Saint Peter’s University Peacock is the best Jesuit mascot.
Mike Jordan Laskey is senior communications manager for the Jesuit Conference in Washington, D.C. He is the author of "The Ministry of Peace and Justice" (Liturgical Press) and lives with his family in Maryland. Follow him on Twitter at @mikelaskey.