A candid, no holds barred look at those screwy college nicknames. You know the ones. Hoyas, Tar Heels. Yeah. Those ones.

Monday, March 15, 2004

March Madness
Now that the invitations to the "Big Dance" for 2004 have been handed out, the NCAA's selection committee has provided me with some additional mascots to make fun of. (Ooops – I've committed that grammatical sin where I end a sentence with a preposition. Should it instead read, "…some additional mascots of which to make fun."?? Naaww.)

First off, let's look at some of the traditional teams that have ended up in the tournament. With these, we've learned over time to accept their goofy nicknames and have given up hope that we can convince others to join us in making fun of them. We've got Blue Devils, Friars and Demon Deacons. Yellow Jackets and Red Raiders, Crimson Tide and Blue Demons. Gamecocks and Catamounts. We've even got Illini (fighting ones at that).

And that's not even the weird ones! One of the weirdest (and believe me, the competition is tough!) is the Southern Illinois Salukis. What the hell is a Saluki? Apparently, I am not the first one to ask this question. When Walt Frazier was leading the So. Illinois team to an NIT championship in 1967, sportswriter Jerry Isenberg wrote the following:

Princeton has its Tiger. B.C. has its Eagle,
Rutgers is the Queensmen, a title truly regal.
But from frigid New York City to Kentucky's old Paduchee,
There's just one burning question – what the hell is a Saluki?

Ok, for the record, please note that Rutgers used to be the Queensmen?!? Ugh. Makes Kingsmen seem so much manly-er.
Well, the short answer is, a Saluki is nothing more than a fancy name for a dog. For the long answer, you can visit SIUC's website. Basically, it's an Egyptian dog, and Salukis were accepted as the finest animals a family could possibly possess. Known for their speed and hunting skills, Salukis are the oldest pure-breed dogs in the world with records dating back to 3600 B.C. That's great. And very historical. Not to mention very biblical. And much better than their former name – the Maroons! But, don't you think they could have come up with a better looking representative of that fine animal?

This reminds me of the dog on the Simpsons. Hellooo Santa's Little Helper!


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