Coast to Coast: Rating the CFB AP top 10’s mascots

It’s almost bowl season, folks! As the business end of the season arrives, we’ll be watching the conference clashes that could determine the College Football Playoff participants this weekend. Just tuning in to college football for the first time all year after a deep sports hibernation? Have no fear. I’m here to give you the rundown on America’s top ten teams. We’re not looking at their on-the-field performances, though. To really give your friends the impression that you have a deep understanding of the sport, we’re going to arm you with mascot ratings. 

#10 Clemson Tigers

Fresh off a loss to a surging South Carolina last weekend, the Clemson Tiger looks like he hasn’t slept in a week. He’s got oddly human eyes and a football jersey that looks like it hasn’t been washed since Clemson’s last CFP appearance in 2021. It seems like the designers of this costume gave up halfway down the torso. They ran out of fabric near the bottom too, so you can spot the shoes of the poor sod underneath the costume.

Rating: 3/10. Needs improvement.

#9 Washington Huskies

Washington went for another human-like look in Harry the Husky. Unlike their Clemson counterparts, this mascot nails it. I’m a big fan of the purple and gold combo. The oversized head creates a fun cartoon-style effect, and the eyebrows are a nice touch. Even better, this mascot walks around with an actual husky named Dubs on game days in Seattle. My only complaint is that, at first glance, I thought Harry was a bear. 

Rating: 8/10. Like a popsicle in July.

#8 Penn State Nittany Lions

I’m at a loss for words to describe this one. This costume could be right out of “Creep” (2014). The soulless gaze pairs nicely with the 4 canines to create a look that’s gotta be near the worst in the country. I’m not alone in thinking that either, as the mascot has consistently ranked near the bottom of national polls. If any Nittany Lions are reading this, please do something.

Rating: 2/10. Irredeemable.

#7 Tennessee Volunteers

The most realistic of the AP top 10’s costumed contenders, Smokey the Bluetick Coonhound is a strong addition to these rankings. A pronounced set of jowls leaves no doubt about the identity of this mascot. He’s got a stately stare that gives you the impression you could trust him to be your financial advisor. Adding accurate paws and muscled legs to the bottom of the costume does wonders for the realism factor.

Rating 7.5/10. About as good as Tennessee’s onfield performance this year.

#6 Alabama Crimson Tide

Big Al the Elephant is a solidly mid-tier mascot. I appreciate the outside-the-box thinking of making an elephant the mascot of a school in Alabama, but I just can’t get behind that boa constrictor of a trunk. I’m all for overdoing it, but his trunk should not be hitting his knees when he sprints through the endzone.

Rating: 6/10. A foot of trunk away from a 7/10.

#5 Ohio State Buckeyes


Rating 1/10.

#4 USC Trojans

Entering the top 4 this week, USC has got an edge over its college football contemporaries. With the only live mascot in the bunch, the Trojans have cornered the market on realism. Traveler IX the white horse is the eighth8th in a proud line of Trojan spirit leaders. His majestic white mane contrasts beautifully with tar-black hooves and a gray snout. The horse’s third- quarter lap around the field is a unique tradition in the sport and makes good use of the Coliseum’s Olympic cauldron near the end of the routine.

Rating: 9/10. Horsing around.

#3 TCU Horned Frogs

This mascot has a lot of fans around the country. I’m not one of them. I think it’s a weird caricature of a horned frog that looks more alien than amphibian. There are way too many spikes and the long eyes make this SuperFrog look permanently shocked. 

Rating: 2.5/10. As likable as burnt toast.

#2 Michigan Wolverines

Michigan hasn’t had a mascot since the 1927 season when legendary head coach Fielding Yost attempted to bring two live wolverines to games against Ohio State and Navy. In a surprise that no one could have seen coming, bringing two of the most vicious animals alive to a stadium packed end-to-end with roaring football fans didn’t quite end well.

Rating: 0/10.

#1 Georgia Bulldogs

Of any mascot on this list, Hairy Dawg the Bulldog is the only one I would trust to produce on the field for his team. The mascot is absurdly muscled in his upper body. Rumor has it Kirby Smart has this bulldog in the gym with his linemen every morning.

Rating: 10/10. I wanted to give a lower score but he might show up at my door.

Yoav Gillath is a sophomore writing about professional and college sports. His column “Coast to Coast” runs every other Thursday.