SPORTS

Mascot Madness: Demons and Devils

2/18/2006

Take away the zany mascots that goof around on the sidelines and the Madness loses its carnival soul. Here are the stories behind the crazy-getups of some of the NCAA’s cuddliest cheerleaders.



Take away the zany mascots that goof around on the sidelines and the Madness loses its carnival soul. Here are the stories behind the crazy-getups of some of the NCAA’s cuddliest cheerleaders.

The Duke Blue Devil [Duke]
Nope, Duke did not sign a pact with Beezlebub. They are named after the Chasseurs Alpins, a World War I French alpine ski unit who were nicknamed the “Les Diables Bleus.” Mountain infantry, the Blue Devils were called upon to break up a stalemate in the French Alps. Irving Berlin described them in song as ''strong and active, most attractive . . . those Devils, the Blue Devils of France.”
Sparty the Spartan [Michigan State] Sparty’s rippling muscles (no doubt a result of kicking Athenian butt 2500 years ago) earned him the honour of “buffest Mascot” by Muscle and Fitness magazine. When the fearless warrior is not patrolling the sidelines dolling out hugs and high-fives in support of Michigan State’s sports teams, Sparty has a sideline making appearances at weddings and Bar-Mitzvahs.

Demon Deacon [Wake Forest]
Why a possessed deacon? The unique demonic name was the invention of school paper editor Mayon Parker in 1923 after the football team defeated rival Trinity (now Duke) due to their “devilish” play. The creative costume also has a story: "Some of my fraternity brothers and I were just sitting around one evening and came to the agreement that what Wake Forest needed was someone dressed up in a top hat, tails, a black umbrella and all that. We wanted him to be more dignified than other mascots, sort of like how an old Baptist Deacon would dress," says Jack Baldwin (’43), the first student to don the Deacon suit.


Spike the Bulldog
Human mascots replaced live dogs in 1980 after a student donned a cape and called himself Captain Zag. The Zag uniform was retired in 1985 and Spike burst onto the scene. Cuddly Bulldog’s are real popular around the NCAA. Georgetown, Western Illinois, Louisiana Tech, and Mississippi State are among 13 American colleges that have the canine’s courtside.

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