This began with a trip to the Big 12 tournament, where gun-toting mascots gallop along the margins of the floor with such freedom that they all seem unaware of their impact.
They don’t realize that they might scare folks. Children. Teens. A few grown men and women. Even reporters, maybe.
Yeah, mascots are supposed to be fun. And these guys are fun ... in a "Friday the 13th" kind of way.
Disclaimer: ESPN is not responsible for the nightmares that some of these images may induce.
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1. Sparty (Michigan State)
So ... at what point should we start testing mascots for PEDs? Guessing Sparty keeps a stash of steroids in his locker. It’s not like anyone would check for fear of the pummeling that would follow. Seriously, though. Is he on something?
2. WuShock (Wichita State)
What kind of Stephen King horror film character, fast-food French fry-looking thing is this? So they just allow some dude from “The Shining: The Mascots Live” to stalk and terrorize individuals at Charles Koch Arena? Fine. But that doesn’t seem wise.
3. Stanford Tree (Stanford)
What on Earth is this? Everyone’s nightmare. That’s what it is. A giant, walking tree. Weird eyes. A giant mouth that’s obviously used to eat people. His leaves look like little hands that he uses to grab you, so he can eat you. This is Stanford’s unofficial mascot. But our fear is official.
4. The Hawk (St. Joseph’s)
All night long, he just flaps his wings and stares at you. In the beginning, you think it’s cool, commendable. He’s committed. And then you realize that he never stops flapping and staring. By then, however, he’s already hypnotized you. Won’t be long before he’s controlling your mind.
5. The Mountaineer (West Virginia)
So we’re just going to pretend like we’re OK with the idea of a dude, a real dude, with a gun running around Morgantown as he represents West Virginia athletics? OK, America. OK. And what is he screaming about?
6. Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State)
Well, if The Mountaineer is strapped, Pistol Pete ain’t walking into the gym without a weapon. Look at his face. Pistol Pete is prepared for a showdown. Always.
7. Sparky the Sun Devil (Arizona State)
Must be rough for Arizona State fans. You all can’t invite Sparky the Sun Devil to your child’s birthday party. He’ll scare the kids. Hell, you can’t invite Sparky to the bachelor party. He’ll scare all the bros.
8. Rodney the Ram (VCU)
The scariest thing about Shaka Smart’s program is not its "Havoc" defense. It’s the ram on the sidelines with the crazy eyes, a linebacker’s build and horns. Doesn’t matter that you’re an adult. If he gets too close to you, you’ll grab your stuff and run.
9. Victor E. Viking (Northern Kentucky)
He sounds friendly, right? And then you see him and you’re like “Kids, stay close to me.” The thick, long yellow mustache. The helmet. That glare. He seems like the kind of mascot who walks around campus looking for fights. Be careful, Norse fans. Be careful.
10. Purdue Pete (Purdue)
OK. Everybody stay calm. What are you going to do with that sledgehammer, Purdue Pete? Why are you just looking at us and not saying anything, Purdue Pete? ... Run! It’s Purdue Pete!!!!!!