Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Midwest - Round of 32

#1 Louisville Cardinals vs. #9 Missouri Tigers

Truman the Tiger looks really, really earnest. I feel like he's just this side of putting on a bake sale to help raise money for research into a disease which is typically underfunded (maybe some sort of tropical parasite that hits particularly close to home given his natural habitat) and winds up not only making legendary peach cobbler but raises enough to open a clinic in Bangladesh. All without opposable thumbs.

Or maybe that's just a facade and he'd spend all of the money on his ridiculous Vespa collection and then maul everyone who showed up to support him. 

I don't know what kind of horrible genetic engineering program they've got over at Louisville, but it's going to keep me up at night. I'm not sure if it's more unsettling that Cardinal Bird has teeth or that he seems to be unable to stop scowling. Maybe that's not physical, though. Maybe he's had a pretty tough life, and I shouldn't be judging his harsh exterior.

Or maybe he realizes he's a songbird about to fight a freaking tiger. No way that ends well.

Missouri advances.

#5 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #13 New Mexico State Aggies

I'm not sure why these guys would be fighting. It seems like the development of agricultural technology would go hand in hand with raising and rearing livestock, but the Mascot Bracket makes demands and we must all abide by them.

The thing is, not only are both of these mascots some manner of cowboy (and so would likely be equipped with roughly the same arsenal, as well as similar experiences and tactics), they're both named Pistol Pete. How have we as a country allowed that to happen for as long as it has? They both derive from the same guy, Frank Eaton, largely because New Mexico State straight up copied the concept from Oklahoma State.

I'm elated that the guy's actual mustache lives up to the hype.

What on earth has been happening with my tax dollars? I assumed that we were still funding Mascot Research and Development and that regular advances in the field had been being properly utilized. But if the end result is that all mascots will wind up being Pistol Pete, I think we really have to get someone in here to review some of these grants. This is absurd.

Based solely on seniority (and the idea that the older Pete would have had more experience and may be better prepared), I'm going to have to give it to Orange Pistol Pete.

Oklahoma State advances.

#6 Memphis Tigers vs. #14 Valparaiso Crusaders

I don't know a lot about tigers. I don't know that I've ever pretended to, but in case that's unclear, I am absolutely not some sort of tiger biologist.

Because if I were a tiger biologist, I would print that on business cards and hand one to every single person.  I would basically never shut up about it.

But even though I'm regrettably not some sort of tiger expert, I'm pretty sure Tigers don't have lovely eyelashes. It has the effect of making him look both a little too human and constantly surprised. Normally, these mascots are cartoonish enough that I don't find them disturbing. While Pouncer is certainly cartoonish, it feels like he's staring at me a bit too steadily.

"You sleeping yet? No? That's ok. I'll wait. Just let your guard down. It's fine."

I need him to blink. He's not going to blink, but I would like him to blink and get the hell away from me.

The Valparaiso Crusader, I'm guessing, is mostly built to match up well against other human-themed mascots. That armor is probably sort of "sword/mace/spear" optimized, and I'm not sure if it provides any protection against tiger attacks. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he's a Crusader from an alternate universe where Kevlar existed in time for him to use it, but then I've got to apply those rules to the rest of the bracket, right? It's obviously not the real world, but we've got to have some order here or nothing is ever going to get done.

In over his helm.

Verdict: Crusader's training has probably mostly been in aggressive inter-personal warfare with a gap in his training on how to deal with the fauna of the subcontinent.

Memphis advances.

#7 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #15 Albany Great Danes.

Don't get me wrong. Great Danes are big impressive dogs. They've got a pretty impressive pop-culture lineage between Scooby-Doo, Maraduke, Astro from The Jetsons and the Hound of the Baskervilles and they're enormous. But they're also domesticated, and all the great danes I've met have been pretty sweet.

This is basically an anger machine.

I've never known any bearcats, but I have watched a bunch of bearcat youtube videos because this is what I do with my time. And I really, really didn't know how big they are.

They're six feet long and have a prehensile tail. Bearcats are not messing around. They don't have to have someone else operate the doorknob so they can go for a walk. They don't have wacky napping antics. They just sit up in a tree and plan murders all day. I have a feeling the tail is more of a "stabilize you when you're on a branch" and not a "throttle your enemies" type tail, but hey, stability is important.

Cincinnati advances.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - East - Round One

#1 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #16 James Madison Dukes

Indiana doesn't actually, technically have a mascot. By a long standing rule at the Murphspot Mascot Bracket that I made up just now, absence of a mascot allows me to assign you one based on your team nickname.

A "hoosier" is a resident of Indiana (evidently deriving from a word for hill folk), so I'm left with the entirety of the history of Indiana citizens to choose from.

Which obviously means that Indiana's mascot is Axl Rose.

Seen here cosplaying as mid-90s era John Popper.

For James Madison, we have a member of the nobility happens to be a bulldog, but presumably this sort of thing is hereditary and his subjects are less likely to revolt so long as they can continue to pay their taxes in soup bones and belly rubs.

The thing I don't get about His Grace Duke Dog is the regalia. His crown appears to be a wire frame that's sort of in the shape of a crown, but mostly attached to a skullcap. I have no idea what to make of that.

I've been hard on bulldogs for the most part in this bracket, but this one has subjects who presumably could be ordered to chase down Axl as punishment for Chinese Democracy.

James Madison advances.

#8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #9 Temple Owls

NC State certainly has to gain some advantage for specifying that they're a full pack of wolves. On the other hand, their mascot is named Mr. Wuf (which is either an oddly formal way of referring to him or indicates that he's the Wood Shop teacher) and he's wearing a particularly unintimidating sailor cap.

It looks like something you'd have quickly embroidered at a theme park. I think I had a hat like that at one point, but that's different because Donald Duck is (at least in some contexts) canonically an Admiral, so it's got some legitimacy behind it.

Owls are freaky. They're vicious little birds, the neck thing is disturbing and they're harbingers of death in more than one culture. And Hooter the Owl is alarmingly maroon.

Cherry, technically, but we're positing a situation where he's fighting a pack of wolves to the death, not repainting his sun room.

As freaky as I find owls and as well justified as I think that unease is, it's a small bird of prey going up against a bunch of wolves, even if they are inclined towards silly hats.

North Carolina State advances.

#5 UNLV Rebels vs. #12 California Golden Bears

Hey, Reb.

Hey, Reb.

If you're going to win me over, comically large mustaches are a pretty decent starting point. I mean, he's an old man with dead eyes and Chronic Mascot Head disorder, but on the whole he's got a certain "Outlaw Josey Wales, the later years" vibe to him that leaves him well equipped for this sort of battle.

Oski the Golden Bear, on the other hand, looks like this.

Look, I get it. There are bears in California to the point that they put one on the flag, and so it makes sense that Cal's mascot is going to be a bear. This bear, though? He's got an unrealistically wide smile and he's wearing a cardigan. I'd be perfectly fine accepting Oski's offer to read me a book and give me a cup of sleepytime tea, but he's not really prepared for battle here.

I'm going to assume that Hey Reb wouldn't have been able to settle the area without some manner of taking out a bear.

UNLV advances

#4 Syracuse Orange vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

Oh, Otto.

Let's hope that one of these days you get matched up against scurvy.

Otto's best shot here is that Monte the Grizzly doesn't like to eat oranges or will hold off doing so long enough for Otto to rot and give Monte a bit of food poisoning, but any battle that you enter into with the strategy of dying first and hoping you'll make your opponent sick isn't one that's going to be particularly successful for you.

Monte's a more intimidating bear as far as mascot goes, mostly because of the bandana.

Montana advances.

#6 Butler Bulldogs vs. #11 Bucknell Bison

The costumed version of Butler Blue manages to combine a bunch of elements from all the other dog-themed mascots from around the bracket in the most offputting way possible. He's got Georgetown Jack's little hat, Albany Damien's monogrammed collar tag (though Butler Blue has evidently either taken a bite out of his own tag or gotten into a fight with one of the other dozen bulldogs in this thing), the standard spiked collar like he's selling Manic Panic as his day job and he's wearing a shirt and shoes, but no pants.

That's somehow more disturbing to me than Jack, who's just nude. Listen, I've seen dogs wear shirts before, and I may have even seen a dog wear booties, but those dogs weren't anthropomorphic. Butler Blue just looks like he's doing this whole mascot business as some sort of compulsion, and it makes me sad.

Bucky the Bison has the decency to dress for the competition and the standard mascot giant head isn't even that odd looking, because bison have enormous heads. They're enormous animals. And I think, if they ever ran into a pantsless bulldog in the wild, they'd have the sense to just run it the hell over.

While giggling his giant head off.

Bucknell advances.

#3 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. #14 Davidson Wildcats

Every year, my brain makes the same connection between the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles and I'm just going to keep running with it because it allows me to incorporate Jerry Van Dyke into the mascot bracket.

In order to avoid taking sides, Jerry Van Dyke is now the Murphspot Mascot Bracket Mascot

The Davidson Wildcats mascot (uninspiringly named "Mr. Cat" like he's in a particularly ineffective version of the Witness Protection program) puts a lot of evidence into the whiskers and his mighty Cheeks of Justice.

I've mostly established my skepticism over the popularity of the Wildcat as a mascot and my willingness to believe that for small opponents, at least, eagles are going to be able to just swoop down from the heavens and take care of business. So, rather than continuing here, I'll just point out that (with the exception of the obvious differences between golden eagles and bald eagles), Marquette's mascot reminds me of Eagleman.

I mostly just wanted to freak you all out. Enjoy.

#7 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. #10 Colorado Buffaloes

The Fighting Illini haven't had a mascot since Chief Illiniwek was retired in 2007. Despite the Sioux regalia, it turns out that "Fighting Illini" referred to Illinoisans who fought in the first World War, but as long as we're tracing things back, we'd eventually get to the Illinois Confederacy from which "Illinois" derives, so we're back to a group of Native American tribes (which, ironically, do not include the Sioux).

Ralphie the Buffalo, on the other hand, is both a live and costumed mascot who seems pretty pleased with life. He's also got the shirt-and-shoes-but-no-pants thing, and I'm tempted to assume this is some sort of pan-Mascot protest of draconian convenience store dress code policies.

So what do we do? The Happy-Go-Lucky Buffalo named Ralphie or the team which doesn't have a mascot but whose last mascot was representative (in a roundabout sort of way) of a people who would have absolutely been able to take down the buffalo that were native to the region?

I don't believe I can give the victory to a mascot that hasn't been used for six years. If Illinois gets a new mascot, we can talk, but as this is entirely mascot based, it's got to go to the one that is actually a mascot.

Colorado advances.

#2 Miami Hurricanes vs. #15 Pacfic Tigers

Whether we're talking about a violent storm system or an overly strong rum-based drink, Hurricanes are pretty destructive. And Miami would have done pretty well if they'd been able to figure out a way to have a costumed Hurricane.

Pictured: Not a hurricane

They didn't, though. They went with a white ibis named Sebastian. And that would be perfectly fine, if Pacific's mascot were a small crustacean or fish. I don't mean to disparage the noble Ibis; it's difficult to come up with a way in which to have a reasonable mascot that's actually a storm system and "local marsh-dwelling bird" is quite a lot better than what the Carolina Hurricanes went with

Stormy the Ice Hog. This makes me miss the Whalers.

Pacific's mascot is named Power Cat and is not messing around.

Yeah, that is going to be able to eat a medium-sized marsh bird.

Pacific advances.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - South - Round One - Part Two

#6 UCLA Bruins vs. #11 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Joe Bruin looks like he likes fun. Which is great. He's still 1500 pounds of claws and anger and I don't trust him for a second.

Let's go ride bikes! You guys! I probably won't murder you!

Goldy Gopher is the reigning Mascot Nationals Champion, but this isn't some rinky-dink awards ceremony; the Mascot Bracket shall not be swayed by such trivialities. The thing is, he's a gopher. He'd stand a chance if Joe Bruin depended entirely on, I don't know, a field of carrots and lettuce to survive but I'm fairly certain Joe's heartier than that. I tried to figure out if any other gopher may have been able to put up a challenge in a way that I could then apply to Goldy, but I"m afraid all that did was get me clips from Caddyshack and get myself on some sort of government list of creeps who google "Famous Gophers".

Big hitter, the Lama.

UCLA advances.

#3 Florida Gators vs. #14 Northwestern State Demons

I"m never sure how to deal with supernatural mascots. It's tempting to just say that the Demon would be able to either supernaturally kill Albert the Gator or convince him to make  aseries of life choices that condemn him to a life devoid of meaning.

The problem lies in Vic the Demon himself. I'm working off of the assumption that part of Vic the Demon's supernatural powers involve being able to choose his appearance. That's pretty standard in the sort of fantasy/horror fiction that would involve Vic, either through some manner of glamour or full-on shapeshifting.

You can't be serious with this. Stop this right now.

So assuming that's the case, why would he go with "Ed Asner if he were a Wood Elf". If you look at something like the Blue Demon from DePaul, he's got the pointy ears and horns on his forehead, but they kept going by making him more Devil-ish. Northwestern State covered the horns up with a sweatband, slapped on some ridiculous eyebrows (He's too demonic for mild grooming!) and called it a day.

I just can't. I can't reward that. If that's the look he's chosen, he's clearly got some problems with decision making, so I'm thinking he'd mostly succeed in giving Albert some mild indigestion.

Florida advances

#7 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #10 Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners seem to have tried to improve their chances by entering double the number of mascots, with Boomer and Sooner. That said, they're ponies. The standard too-wide smile and hyper-alert eyes are somehow only made more horrifying by the mane. Or, rather, the way in which they're wearing the mane.

Maybe I'm judging prematurely. Maybe that's Pete Wentz inside the pony-head. But I doubt it.

The Aztec Warrior, on the other hand, has some pretty great headgear, a shield and a conch shell. I'm not sure what the associations are between the Aztec and blowing conch shells, but I assume they're valid. Additionally, I'm going to assume guy's got a spear, as that's in the logo. Horses in North America died out during the last Ice Age, so the Spanish bringing horses over gave them an advantage over the Aztecs.

But the Spanish aren't here, and I think the Aztecs will be more than able to handle a couple of horses. Make things even.

San Diego State advances.

#2 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

What? Rocks.

I feel like Jack the Bulldog is taking a different approach towards intimidating his opponents. He's got the spiked collar and the tiny little hat, but unlike most other costumed animal mascots that seem to wind up being dressed in a jersey and shorts (or, in the case of Rebel Black Bear, slacks), Jack is otherwise nude. I'm not one who has ever seen the utility in dressing up pets, so I get the impulse to stay true to reality, but it's sort of odd once you realize that, hey, that mascot isn't wearing pants.

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles mascot, Azul, is not only wearing clothes but green sneakers.

 I'm somewhat concerned with how that's going to impact his ability to attack (as my conception of how this is going down relies on the Azul swooping down and grabbing Jack with his talons), but a mascot that can make this shot will probably be able enough to take off his shoes first. And I doubt he's prudish enough to be swayed by Jack's unconventional clothing choices.

Florida Gulf Coast advances.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - South - Round One - Part One

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs #16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers



I'm sorry. I shouldn't announce my biases so blatantly. First, Kansas.

The Jayhawk isn't an actual bird, because birds naturally possess a sense that wearing buckles on your shoes is absolutely ridiculous and will naturally avoid doing so. Jayhawkers, on the other hand, were real abolitionists who got into border skirmishes with pro-slavery advocates during the Bleeding Kansas incidents, which would place them as one of the few team nicknames that actually have combat experience.

Dearest Kansas, why isn't this guy your mascot? Look at that hat. Magnificent.

A quick search also turned up this guy making a John Brown Jayhawk. John Brown was from Connecticut, so I'm not sure he counts as a Jayhawk, but that's pretty significantly more awesome than most of the mascot-inspired art I've come across in doing this bracket.

Big Red, on the other hand, is the Avatar of Joy. I don't know why I can't get over this thing. He's got a giant hinged head and apparently naturally forming shin guards and his design makes it impossible to find a picture where he doesn't look disturbingly happy. Maybe that's it. It's not just that he's giddy, it's that he's unnaturally giddy. Like the Hill in "Hilltopper" might be comprised entirely of the bones of his enemies.

Big Red knows your secrets and is positively overjoyed. Be afraid.

I have no idea how Big Red actually would fight, but that's what's frightening. In any case, "Hilltopper" implies superior tactical positioning, so we'll go with that.

Western Kentucky advances.

#8 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #9 Villanova Wildcats

Villanova actually narrows down what they mean by "Wildcat" which is unexpected and sort of helpful. The regrettably named "Will D. Cat" is some manner of mutant bobcat with unnaturally blue eyes which I'm assuming means this is the bobcat version of the Kwisatz Haderach.

Fear is the mind-killer.

On the other hand, the Villanova logo incorporating Will seems like it should have someone standing off to the side yelling at the cat to get down right now and running at him with a spray bottle.


The Tar Heels nickname continues to be unhelpful as "Tar Heel" just refers to a resident of North Carolina which puts this just this side of "Montreal Canadiens" in terms of redundancy. Rameses has got some pretty threatening horns, but when it comes down to it, it's a sheep.

It's close, but I think I'm going to have to say that Villanova's mascot is very, very slightly more threatening.

Villanova advances.

#5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. #12 Akron Zips

This bracket is turning out to be relatively ram-heavy. I wish I could say I was more intimidated by Rodney the Ram, but look at him.

He's got a heart-shaped nose. He looks like a giant teddy bear with post-factory horns thrown on. He seems like he might break into song, but not in a "my enemies lie vanquished before me" sort of way.

I have to hand it to Akron for just disregarding the idea that mascots need to make sense. The team itself is named after, as far as I can tell, a style of zippered galoshes which allows them pretty free roam with what to use as a mascot. Kangaroo would not have been my first guess. Kangaroos aren't, so far as I know, indigenous to northeastern Ohio, but my alma mater decided on a Gator despite being in northwestern Pennsylvania, so I'm not sure I can throw stones.

Sure, she's got a goofy beanie, but kangaroos can kick pretty hard and, once again, Rodney the Ram is more "adorable" than "menacing".

Akron advances.

#4 Michigan Wolverines vs. #13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

I don't want to disparage the noble Jackrabbit. It's probably got the advantage in terms of knowing when his opponent is approaching and in pure Kennywood terms, Jackrabbit is slightly more exciting than Racer, but without the intense pain of Thunderbolt as far as the wooden coasters go.

Not many people know this, but most Leporids are classic roller-coaster enthusiasts.

The mascot himself looks like something out of an After School Special, but I'm pretty sure that's just the backwards cap. But while he might be phenomenal at convincing eight year olds to not bully other ten year olds or talk to strangers, he really doesn't stand a chance here.

Wolverines have the same tendency that most dogs I've known have to completely disregard their own size when deciding to get into a fight. Wikipedia not only lists rabbits as their natural prey, but deer, caribou and elk. If this thing is capable of mortally wounding large, even-toed ungulates, a rabbit in a hat has no chance.

Michigan advances.