Major FBS programs often adopt the more popular nicknames -- names that evoke images of strength and power: lions, tigers, bears, and birds of prey. FCS programs, however, tend to be directional schools or smaller private institutions, and often take on more obscure and entertaining nicknames than FBS programs.
These FCS schools show great levels of creativity and cleverness with their nicknames:
25: College of the Holy Cross Crusaders. Holy Cross' Crusaders nickname is inherently linked to the institution itself and does not rely on any gimmicks. I like the inextricable link between the school and nickname, one that is a truly sincere embodiment of the university and team it represents.
24: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs. Birds of prey are common for team nicknames, but Scrappy the Mockingbird provides a more friendly mascot and nickname for the Chattanooga Mocs.
23: Sacred Heart University Pioneers. Pioneers evoke a spirit of freedom, independence, and strength, giving Sacred Heart a proud moniker for its athletic programs.
22: Marist College Red Foxes. While foxes aren't ferocious, they are sly, giving Marist a unique and cunning nickname.
21: Austin Peay State University Governors. Austin Peay was once the governor of Tennessee, providing the inspiration for Austin Peay State University's mascot and giving it a stately nickname.
20: University of Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. The Fighting Blue Hens are certainly a less fowl nickname than the Gamecocks.
19: Presbyterian College Blue Hose. Similar to the Red Sox or White Sox, except it sounds funnier and has religious origins.
18: Saint Francis University Red Flash. During the 1920s, the combination of Saint Francis' red uniforms and the team's speed caused some to refer to them as the Red Flash. The name stuck and gives them one of the best nicknames in FCS football today.
17: Western Illinois University Fighting Leathernecks. While a dog with a studded collar is not the most prolific mascot in the game, Western Illinois' nickname more than makes up for it.
16: University at Albany-SUNY Great Danes. UAlbany chose a very regal dog breed for its nickname.
15: University of Pennsylvania Quakers. Although Penn is not actually affiliated with the Quakers, the Ivy League institution draws its distinct nickname from the religion. It would only be better if it called its sports teams the Fighting Amish.
14: Liberty University Flames. The Liberty University school motto is "Knowledge Aflame," which was the catalyst for the school's nickname. Nicely played, Liberty. It eschewed the passé Patriots nickname for one that makes you think a little.
13: Furman University Paladins. Furman's choice of a chivalrous nickname combined with the knight in shining armor mascot might be a loose historical interpretation but the symbolic synergy is impressive.
12: Murray State University Racers. Murray State pays homage to Kentucky's horse-racing heritage with its Racers nickname.
11: Southern Illinois University Salukis. Some schools take the easy way out and nickname their teams the Bulldogs, but Southern Illinois chose a much more patrician breed for its moniker. Saluki may sound a little wonky, but Salukis are the royal dogs of Egypt, which is why the breed might look familiar to you.
10: University of Richmond Spiders. Why don't we see more schools adopt this Arachnophobia-inducing nickname?
9: Stony Brook University Seawolves. There is actually an Atlantic fish called the seawolf, but Stony Brook's nickname is represented by Wolfie the Seawolf, who bears resemblance to an actual wolf. Points for clever wordplay.
8: Elon University Phoenix. Elon changed its nickname from the Fightin' Christians in order to gain more mainstream appeal. It chose on the Phoenix moniker to represent the school "rising from the ashes" of a 1923 fire that nearly wiped out the entire campus.
7: Youngstown State University Penguins. Penguins are endearing, and while they don't convey ferociousness or valor like other school's nicknames, they are a universally loved animal. Who doesn't love penguins?
6: Northern Arizona University/Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjacks. Lumberjacks evoke images of strength, hardiness, and hard work -- all solid virtues for a school's football team to possess.
5: South Dakota State University Jackrabbits. South Dakota State certainly picked one of the most unique and amusing nicknames in FCS football.
4: Florida A&M University Rattlers. Venom the Rattler represents the Rattlers and makes me wonder how this is not a more common nickname. Kudos to Florida A&M for making opponents watch for the snake in the grass.
3: University of San Diego Toreros. For those of you not familiar with the term, a torero is a bullfighter. This is one of the boldest and bravest nicknames in all of college football, not just FCS.
2: Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers. The Chanticleer nickname is derived from the rooster made famous in "Canterbury Tales." Coastal Carolina even named the mascot Chauncey as a reference to Chaucer. I love the intellectual nature of this nickname.
1: Campbell University Fighting Camels. Fighting Camels, eh? Campbell University certainly has a sense of humor.
The author is a lifelong fan of the LSU Tigers, but has also attended many Southern Jaguars games in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
More from this Contributor:
- Austin Peay State University