College football roundtable: Best mascots

We continue our national roundtable series with a fun look at which school has the best mascot in each Power 5 conference. This topic is sure to inspire debate among the fan bases, which take great pride in what their program has to offer. Here's how our panel voted:

ACC: Syracuse

There are various animal mascots that are fun in the ACC, like Ibises, turkeys and tigers. There is even a real ram and a real horse (plus flaming spear!). But none of them can top Otto the Orange, the most unique mascot of them all. First of all, he is a fruit. How many other fruit mascots can you name in college football? Thought so. Second of all, he is cute and cuddly. Sure, some schools want to have an intimidating mascot as part of their whole shtick. But there is something about an orange wearing a baseball cap, with arms and legs no less, that is just downright a-peelin'. Orange you glad to have him, Syracuse? -- Andrea Adelson

Big Ten: Michigan State

The current costumed mascot version of Sparty wasn't introduced to Michigan State fans until 1989. But in just a few short decades, it has become a prominent league staple and routinely ranks atop various lists of best Big Ten mascots. Sparty is 7 feet tall, yet even his rippling muscles and warrior garb can't mask his cartoon-like cuteness. Oddly enough, ESPN had a hand in helping Sparty become nationally recognized in the mid-1990s, when the mascot was featured carrying around Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug for a parody "This Is SportsCenter" commercial. Given that Michigan State has one of the most successful football and men's basketball team combinations in the country, Sparty should remain a national fixture for years to come. -- Jesse Temple

Big 12: West Virginia

Anytime video of your mascot shooting a bear in the woods can be found online, your mascot is going to be hard to beat. West Virginia’s Mountaineer mascot was always an interesting representative as one of the few mascots in college football without a face-covering mask, and one of the best costumes in the nation. But the Mountaineers' early years in the Big 12 coincided with an online video of Johnathan Kimble, West Virginia’s Mountaineer at the time, shooting a black bear with his school-issued musket. Quite the first impression for the most real -- and best -- mascot in the Big 12. -- Brandon Chatmon

Pac-12: Stanford

Technically, Stanford doesn’t have an official mascot, but we’ll let that unimportant distinction slide because the Stanford Tree is still one of the most recognizable mascots in college sports. Officially, the school designates the Tree simply as a member of its controversial band, but it’s so much more than that. It has existed in various forms since the 1970s, and there are often several versions on hand at Stanford athletic events. In a conference that, in all honesty, doesn’t have many great mascots, the Tree stands out. Hobbies include: dancing in circles and fighting Oski (Cal’s mascot). -- Kyle Bonagura


The SEC has some cool mascots, for sure. But does it get any cooler than a real, live tiger? Mike the Tiger, LSU's mascot, resides in a 15,000-square foot habitat on campus (which includes lush planting, a large live oak tree, a waterfall and a stream) and before home games, he is escorted in a trailer near the visitors' locker room to intimidate opponents as they enter. You can even watch Mike on his live "Tigercam." Mike VI -- who has served as the current Mike the Tiger since 2007 -- weighs about 500 pounds and eats 25 pounds of food per day (175 per week). When it comes to mascots, a live tiger is as fierce as they come. Unfortunately, Mike VI is battling cancer after being diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma in May. He is receiving treatment. -- Sam Khan Jr.