COLUMBIA — Think of the SEC as a gigantic house and the 12 member schools as the house's inhabitants. The likes of Florida, Georgia and Alabama just got two new roommates in Missouri and Texas A&M. But, because the Tigers and Aggies are the new guys, they’ll have to deal with some of the more odd habits of their new roommates.
Like the fact that they like to keep live animals in the house.
That’s right, eight of the 12 current member schools in the Southeastern Conference have live animal mascots. We picked out five of our favorites for Missouri fans to get acquainted with. Better hope no one is allergic.
Uga. Any discussion of live animal mascots must include the University of Georgia’s bulldog mascot. Through the years, there have been seven dogs named Uga that have acted as the Bulldogs’ official bulldog. Georgia’s official website keeps track of how the team has performed under each dog, and Uga IV is the all-time winningest bulldog, with the Bulldogs winning 77 games and heading to nine bowl games under his watchful eye. It was his son, though, Uga V, that starred alongside Kevin Spacey and John Cusack in the 1997 film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." We'll let you determine the more impressive accomplishment.
War Eagle. "War Eagle" is the battle cry of Auburn University, and the school also has a live eagle mascot that flies at home football games. According to a 1998 article from The Auburn Plainsman, there was a debate over which animal would be represented by costume: "Though the eagle is a symbol of dignity, the tiger was chosen to serve as the costumed mascot because university officials feared a giant eagle would be mocked." The current eagle is named Nova.
Tusk. Dogs and birds are common. Many people have dogs and birds as pets, but how many people have Russian boars? The University of Arkansas has one named Tusk as its official mascot. He is the fourth boar named Tusk, and he recently made his debut at last season's Sugar Bowl. But a Tusk wasn't always the mascot at Arkansas. This is from the Razorbacks' website: "Another live mascot, Ragnar, was a wild hog captured in south Arkansas by Leola farmer Bill Robinson. Before Ragnar's spree was done, the mighty animal had killed a coyote, a 450-pound domestic pig and seven rattlesnakes. Ragnar died in 1978 of unknown causes." That's right, in the SEC, mascots go on "sprees." Could you picture Truman going on a spree of some kind?
Sir Big Spur. The rooster that calls Peace Park its home will have company in the SEC come next summer. The University of South Carolina has its own rooster, Sir Big Spur. According to a 2010 story by WLTX-TV, in Columbia, S.C., the rooster's owners have been bringing him to South Carolina sporting events for more than a decade. The story also says that the rooster was called "Cocky Doodle Lou" during the head-coaching tenure of Lou Holtz.
Mike The Tiger. Perhaps the most famous of the SEC fauna is Mike, the live tiger mascot at Louisiana State University. Some version of Mike has been in Baton Rouge since 1936, when a group of athletics department employees raised $750 to buy a tiger from the Little Rock Zoo, according to the Mike the Tiger website. LSU is now on its sixth Mike, the current one born in 2005. Mike lives in an enclosure on campus that allows spectators to walk by and look at him. The Mike the Tiger website describes some of the features: "The new environment created for Mike is over 15,000 square feet in size with lush planting, a large Live Oak tree, a beautiful waterfall and a stream evolving from a rocky backdrop overflowing with plants and trees." It was Mike that was mentioned during a brief campus debate a few years ago at MU about the possibility of obtaining a live tiger mascot.
Other live animal mascots in the SEC include Tennessee's Smokey, a coonhound, and Mississippi State's Bully, a bulldog, as well as the University of Kentucky’s live bobcat named Blue. Also, Texas A&M has a collie named Reveille.
Consider this a field guide to the SEC's wildlife. If you are scared of animals, don't worry. Being between an SEC mascot and some food is probably not as dangerous as being between an Alabama fan and an Auburn fan.