Ranking The Creepiest Mascots in the Big Ten

By TJ Neer on June 26, 2017 at 1:05 pm
Brutus Buckeye.

There are no sports going on right now for Ohio State (or the NCAA, really), so let's rank the creepiest mascots in the Big Ten.

Not Considered

Illinois, Indiana and Michigan all do not use a mascot currently, so they're left out of contention for the purpose of this piece. I also didn't include the Boilermaker Special because it is a train.

11. Goldy Gopher, Minnesota

Goldy Gopher is the only mascot on the list that seems friendly and completely harmless. He gives off Chuck E. Cheese vibes and, in case you don't trust my judgment, won his third mascot national championship in January.

Also, that stiff arm he threw on some kids during a Minnesota Vikings halftime has endeared him too much for him to be creepy.

10. Testudo, Maryland

As far as I am concerned, Testudo is a cute turtle and overall is not imposing or particularly creepy. He isn't scarily designed and seems like a friendly cousin of FranklinSomebody give Testudo a catchy theme song and a kids show.

However, if you Google images search Testudo, you can find some creepy pictures of his former costumes. Particularly this one which will haunt me for a few weeks, at least. 

9. Scarlet Knight, Rutgers

While most mascots in the Big Ten are anthropomorphic animals, a few are made to look just like really buff humans and aren't particularly creepy. With the Scarlet Knight and Sparty having a lot in common in terms of design, I'll give the edge to the team that has warranted more fear on the field in recent years. 

While knights were probably scary to many people at some point in time, I think they're generally viewed as cool by kids around the world.

8. Sparty, Michigan State

Sparty is modeled after a spartan (duh), which I also think is revered more as cool than as creepy, despite the nightmares Michigan State has caused on the field for Ohio State fans everywhere.

I'm not saying I'd wanna meet Sparty in an alley, but he certainly isn't going to wreck your dreams for nights like some of the mascots coming up on the list.

7. Bucky Badger, Wisconsin

I may be the only one here, but Bucky Badger does not look friendly at all. Even the drawings of him are frowning. Combine that with the reality of badgers and you've got a scary combination, but somehow the mascot itself doesn't seem necessarily imposing or otherwise creepy. Bucky Badger might unnerve you a bit, but you aren't likely to get goosebumps if he comes to your section of the stadium at a game.


I might get destroyed down in the comments for this one, and originally I had Brutus as one of the least creepy of the Big Ten mascots. But stick with me for a minute here — most of the mascots in the Big Ten fall into one of two categories: anthropomorphic animals or augmented humans. Brutus does not fall into either of those categories.

He is an anthropomorphic nut. A nut that can't be eaten, at that. So, somehow, a poisonous nut fell off its tree and grew legs and arms and now is the centerpiece of Buckeye Nation. Right. Suuuuure, not creepy at all. 

Brutus Buckeye seems like the Big Ten mascot most likely to lead a cult. How did we end up here, worshiping a nut that can kill us? Why not a delicious cashew or an almond? Or even a peanut? But to be honest, I'd still probably join the Cult of the Poison Nut. 

5. Herky the Hawk, Iowa

At first glance, Herky the Hawk doesn't seem too overtly creepy, but the longer I look at him the more I feel scared for my personal safety. Herky's giant eyebrows and grimace just scream aggression and incite fear. He isn't something that's going to populate nightmares for years like some of the highest ranked mascots on this list, but he gives off a constant aura of discomfort. To me, at least.


I'm up in the air on this one and definitely open for Willie the Wildcat to move up in the rankings, but as of right now, Willie reminds me a bit of Einstein or like a knock-off of one of the characters from Between the Lions.

And while Lionel, Leona, Cleo and Theo sure were friendly, Willie seems more like he could snap at any moment and use you as a test subject for one of his experiments to make more anthropomorphic mascot-people and one day take over as the dominant species on earth.

3. Lil Red and Herbie Husker, Nebraska

You read that correctly: Nebraska somehow ended up with two pretty creepy mascots in Lil' Red and Herbie Husker.

Herbie is obviously the less creepy one here, but he also looks like an overly aggressive lawnmower salesman or a Purge mask that grew a body. Both those things creep me out.

Lil' Red, on the other hand, is totally nightmare fuel. I'm not sure if he's meant to be a child but a quick look at his Wikipedia page reveals that Lil Red was intended to appeal to children which seems creepy as a premise for mascot design. Lil' Red could be the haunted doll at the center of a horror movie based on what I see. Sign me up to never be within 300 feet of Lil' Red in my life, please.

2. Nittany Lion, Penn State

Nittany Lions are meant to be a type of mountain lion that hail from Nittany Park in Pennsylvania, so they are probably scary. However, that rule doesn't have to apply to mascots made to resemble said animals. The people at Penn State evidently didn't get the memo because the Nittany Lion mascot is the thing that I was scared would show up at Chuck E. Cheese when I was younger.

Nittany Lion looks like an entertainer at kid's birthday party who has to be watched at all times. Nittany Lion looks like a cosplay outfit gone horribly, horribly wrong. I could go on but that would mean I have to switch tabs back to a picture of Nittany Lion and my eyes can't take it.

1. Purdue Pete, Purdue

I don't think I'll find much resistance to Purdue Pete as the creepiest mascot in the Big Ten from anyone who is familiar with him. Although, technically, Purdue Pete is not the official mascot of Purdue. That title belongs to the Boilermaker Special. A train.

And let's be honest, if you were edged out by a train as the official mascot of a university, you might be a bit creepy too. 

In cartoon form, Purdue Pete is actually not too bad. But once the costume comes out you need to shield your eyes or you will have nightmares. Just look here if you want to check for yourself.

Confirmed: Purdue Pete is creepy.

Purdue Pete's odd costume design that doesn't seem to include arms, the constantly wide eyes and lips that seemed pursed in disappointment give off an aura that Purdue Pete has (a) seen some things and (b) will devour your soul if left alone with you. If you've got two minutes, you can watch Purdue Pete's entry video into the mascot national championships for 2017, but even the happy music can't offset his creepiness.

If I was a football player I might have to file a complaint for unsafe working conditions if Purdue Pete even looked in my direction during a game.

View 96 Comments