As March Maddness fever sweeps the nation, and people everywhere intently watch each tournament game to see how their bracket predictions fare, we decided to take a look at a different factor in determining college sports success.
Instead of statistics or advanced analytics, we’ve gathered our team of experts to examine the spiritual side of NCAA athletics. Below is our breakdown of the best religious team names in all of NCAA sports.
Years from now, only the most devoted fans will remember who made the final four in the 2015 NCAA tournament, but our list will be the defacto, definitive ranking of religious mascots for all-time.
Let the real madness begin:
10. The Crusaders
Schools: Holy Cross College, Evangel University, Capital University, Belmont Abbey College, Alvernia University, Valparaiso University, William Carey University, Tennessee Temple University
The Crusaders get dead last. Considering the crusades aren’t exactly a shining moment in church history, the medieval weapon-wielding knight is the mascot of way too many schools. Plus there are some many more original team names out there. Like the …
9. Fightin’ Quakers
School: Wimington College
Though there are numerous “Quakers” in college athletics, there is only one “Fightin’ Quakers.” However, it is common knowledge that the Quakers are a peaceful people, and we do not look highly on oxymorons in mascot names.
8. Devils (Both Red and Blue)
Schools: Central Connecticut State University, DePaul University, Dickinson College, Duke University, Wisconsin—Stout, SUNY Fredonia
When you think about it, it does seem a little odd that the Prince of Darkness serves as the mascot for several major American universities.
7. Preachers and Angels
School: Lincoln Christian Seminary
Lincoln Christian University evidently now goes by the much lamer “Red Lions.” Thankfully, sweet Lincoln Christian Seminary “Preachers and Angels” polos can still be purchased online, starting at the low price of $29.99.
6. The Magicians
School: LeMoyne-Owen College
These are not the LeMoyne-Owen College Illusionists. These are the LeMoyne-Owen College Magicians. We’re talking the dark arts here. In other words, not a team you want to be facing off with.
5. The Saints
School: Ashford University
There are several schools with teams called the “Saints,” but we’ve decided to go with Ashford University for their curious, yet bold, decision to make the team named after Saint Bernard dogs, not actual religious figures.
The Final Four
4. Demon Deacons
School: Wake Forest
Evidently, the school, which was founded by Baptists, gained the nickname for “devilish” athletic ability a hundred years ago. Thankfully, the name stuck. And now the top-hatted church leader—who is frequently seen riding a wicked motorcycle—strikes fear into the hearts of crusaders, saints and Quakers everywhere.
School: Providence College
We’re going to be honest. We weren’t sold until we saw the mascot and the Assassins Creed-style logo for ourselves. They are both terrifying.
School: Yeshiva University
Not only is this ancient warrior well-armed, the dude is totally ripped. He literally has abs built into his armor.
1. Hustlin’ Quakers
School: Earlham College
Was there ever any doubt that the mighty Hustlin’ Quakers would take the top spot? Though these days, Earlham is more commonly known simply as the “Quakers,” they’ll always be precluded by the hustlin’ spirit to us. They also have the undisputed greatest chant in college athletics (if the site “quaker.wikia.com” is in fact accurate, which we have no reason to believe it isn’t) Fight, Fight, Inner Light! / Kill, Quakers, Kill! / Knock ’em Down, Beat ’em Senseless! / Do It til We Reach Consensus! Not only will the Hustlin’ Quakers knock down, senselessly beat and kill inferior teams. They will do it until a consensus is reached.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.