Ralphie is the queen of them all.
Colorado Buffaloes fans already know that, of course. There are few sights as unique in college football as Ralphie barreling across Folsom Field with her handlers in tow and a fired-up football team hitting the turf behind her.
Yet those same CU fans may be shocked to learn there are fans of other schools who believe their live mascot ranks at the top of the class. Here is a look at the first team and honorable mention lists of the top live mascots in the nation.
For the purposes of this list, animals that share the spotlight with a prop or person — see Florida State’s Chief Osceola and his horse Renegade, Oklahoma’s Sooner Schooner, or USC’s gladiator-saddled Traveler — are ineligible. If you want to challenge Ralphie, your animal must do it on its own.
Ralphie: It’s difficult to find another live mascot that blends originality, geographical relevance, and an actual game-day role beyond being a four-legged (or winged) bystander like CU’s iconic buffalo.
Uga: The beloved English bulldog has been the canine face of the Georgia Bulldogs since 1956. According to a report by the Pittsburgh Press, Uga is the only collegiate mascot that is ritualistically interned within the confines of the football stadium, with Uga I through VIII all resting in peace under the south stands of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium. Currently it is Uga X, known as Que, who is leading the way for Georgia’s best season in years.
Bevo: A 2016 listing of live mascots by FOX Sports ranked the Texas Longhorns’ Bevo at the head of the pack. Think Ralphie’s 50th anniversary is special? Bevo XV was introduced last season in the 100th anniversary year of the longhorn steer’s representation at Texas football games. Ralphie won’t hit that mark until 2067.
Cam the Ram: Sorry, Buffs fans. CU’s rivals to the north have been parading Cam (named after the school’s former moniker of Colorado A&M) out at football games a solid 20 years longer than Ralphie has been running. Cam 25, the current mascot, took over when Cam 24 (his half-brother) died on the day of the Rocky Mountain Showdown two years ago.
War Eagle: Auburn’s rally cry-turned-mascot name doesn’t have the lasting tradition of some of its peers, having first taken flight at a football game in 2000 (Though eagles have been a regular sideline presence at Auburn since the 1960s). But it easily makes up for that with coolness points — who doesn’t get fired up seeing a beautiful, majestic eagle soaring over the crowd on an autumn Saturday?
Mike the Tiger: Ralphie will run you over. Mike will gouge your eyes out. LSU’s mascot would rate higher if the finicky feline acquiesced to getting into a trailer to actually attend games a little more frequently.
Bill the goat: In another era goats often sailed with Navy vessels to provide meat and milk because they took up less room than cows and can swim. The live goat made its debut for the Midshipmen at the fourth Army-Navy game in 1883.
Smokey: Among the packs of dogs littering the mascot landscape, few have been known to actually bite the opposition. Tennessee’s bluetick coonhound is the exception.
Vic & Tory: Eastern New Mexico is well off the national football radar, but give them points for the names of the two greyhounds (crunch the names together…get it?)