Have you ever wondered what a Hoya is? Or why UC Santa Barbara would select an Argentinian cowboy for a mascot? Or how a school with baptist roots like Wake Forest would become known as the Demon Deacons?
If so, then this is the post for you.
Unlike the dozens of schools who stuck with common mascots, the five NCAA tournament teams below chose to look beyond the insipid Tigers-Wildcats-Eagles triumvirate of nicknames. Here's the story of what their nicknames mean and how they chose them:
Its mascot may be a bulldog, but Georgetown's nickname is unrelated. The origin of "Hoya" actually dates back more than a century to when Georgetown's teams were known as "The Stonewalls." According to legend, a student, using Greek and Latin terms, dubbed the baseball team "Hoia Saxa," which translates to "what rocks." The name stuck, spawning Georgetown's popular "Hoya Saxa" cheer and eventually leading the school to formally adopt "Hoyas" for all Georgetown teams.
After Purdue's football team smashed Wabash College, 44-0, in its 1891 season opener, a Crawfordsville newspaper ran the headline "Slaughter of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue." The "Boiler Maker" reference was supposed to be an insult alluding to Purdue's working-class student body who received training in hands-on work in the forge room. Instead it became a source of pride, leading Purdue students to refer to their teams as the Boilermakers within the next few years.
A Terrapin is a type of carnivorous turtle native to the state of Maryland. Maryland had been referring to itself as the "Old Liners" until 1932 when football coach H.C. Byrd recommended the Diamondback Terrapin as mascot in response to the student newspapers search for one. Byrd had apparently had run-ins with this type of snapping turtle during his childhood.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest was originally known as the "Baptists" or the "Old Gold and Black," but a local sports editor referred to the football team as the "Deamon Deacons" in 1922 after a victory over rival Duke. Wake Forest news director Henry Belk picked up the new name for the Deacons and began using it in the school's news releases, leading it to become a familiar term with fans.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Many students at UCSB don't know that a Gaucho is an Argentian cowboy, let alone why their school chose that as a mascot. Originally known as the Road Runners, UCSB adopted its new nickname in 1936 when, inspired by Douglas Fairbanks's performance in the 1927 film The Gaucho, the female student population led a push to make the change.
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