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D2SDAY: SMALL CONFERENCE, BIG DREAMS

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AND THEN I GO OFF TRACK FOR A BIT

Welcome back to one of the top seven days of the week, Division II Tuesday, where we profile one of the many wonderful conferences from the third tier of college football!

If you need to catch up, here’s what we’ve done so far this season:

The Great American Conference

The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference

Now, we’re in Week 5 of this venture, and in honor of that incredibly significant numerological milestone, we’re going to profile one of the smallest conferences in Division II, one that has only five football-sponsoring members. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in pluck, charm, and scenery.

It’s time we meet the Great Northwest Athletic Conference!

The GNAC formally spans 11 schools from Montana to Alaska, but only three full members (Western Oregon, Central Washington and British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University) sponsor football. Affiliate members Azusa Pacific (of the Pacific West Conference) and Humboldt State (of the California Collegiate Athletic Association) round out the football schedule.

NOTABLE ALUMNI OR ATTENDEES OF THE GNAC

Raymond Carver - Humboldt State University

Terry Fox, Canadian humanitarian and cancer research activist - Simon Fraser University

Craig T. Nelson of Coach fame, flunked out of Central Washington University

Daniel Mallory Ortberg, beloved internet humorist, author, and co-founder of The Toast - Azusa Pacific University

Ariana Richards, best known as Lex in the original Jurassic Park - Western Oregon

GNAC GAME OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE GNAC

Central Washington University re-opened their newly-renovated Tomlinson Stadium on Saturday, playing the first night game in the facility’s 59-year history. The #14-ranked Wildcats lost in a thrilling 28-26 game to West Texas A&M.

GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE GNAC

Azusa Pacific wideout Brandon Jackson pulled in 13 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars’ 37-21 victory over Humboldt State.

STADIUM OF THE WEEK

Throwing this in here because it’s very cool that Humboldt State has a stadium called “The Redwood Bowl” and it’s as pretty as that name suggests.

OKAY LET’S GET TO THOSE MASCOTS

I’m going to remind you that I’m under no obligation to use the current logo for the school to formulate these rankings if I happen to find a better one from their past in the course of my research. I mean, what do you think of when you think of the UConn Huskies? It sure isn’t their current logo. Just think about that.

5. Azusa Pacific Cougars

“Is this a private Christian university, or is it a value-priced energy drink?” I applaud the ambiguity. Keeps people on their toes.

4. Western Oregon Wolves

Aggressive-looking animals are de riguer for college sports these days, but I really dig the graphic design on this logo nonetheless. It’s like a decent soccer shield.

3. Central Washington Wildcats

Now, as I was saying about using current logos...

Here’s the current logo for Central Washington:

That’s perfectly fine, isn’t it? It’s fine. Kinda fierce, kinda stylish, perfectly acceptable as far as logos go, if not terribly memorable. But, what about this, which I also found?

ehhhhhnnnhhh are you gonna finish that tuna

I live under your porch and moan at night like I’m dying, but I’m not dying.

am I dying?

Is that a new haircut, Dave? You know I see everything from under the porch

I see everything, Dave

That’s way scarier than the stylized fierce thing. Go with that.

2. Humboldt State Lumberjacks

Again, the current logo, which is okay:

Or, this logo from the marching band, which is terrifying:

What if you saw a marching band come out to play, but instead of instruments, they all had axes? Next week, on Black Mirror.

Now, on to the best mascot in the conference, and dare I say, a trendsetter, something others should aspire to, from a surprising place - the only school in all of the NCAA - at any level - based in Canada.

1. Simon Fraser Clan

A SCOTTIE DOG WHO’S READY FOR A BAR FIGHT. (Which, if you’ve met a terrier, is redundant). Bless you, Simon Fraser University, you’ve hit on something college football is sorely lacking: unique and interesting dog mascots.

Let’s look at the various dog breeds represented in FBS:

Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Huskies, Bulldogs, Huskies, Huskies, and Bulldogs.

I know the 1890s, when most college football programs got their start, weren’t the most creative time. Really, we should applaud any school that picked a mascot in that era without being racist about it. But there’s so much diversity available to you! Do you know how many dog breeds are available for your school to use as a mascot? There are so many!

Might I suggest:

KOMONDOR

Look at this glorious bastard. Affable. Cuddly. Is he hiding knives in there? You won’t know until it’s too late.

PULI

Look at this more glorious bastard. Like a wig on a missile.

NORWEGIAN LUNDEHUND

They have six toes and watertight ears and were bred to hunt puffins and eat their eggs. Look at this guy. He’s looking at you right now deciding if you’re a puffin egg.

HOLLY

I will rent her out to any college football program for any entirely reasonable rate or future scholarship for my kids. Email in bio.

XOLOITZCUINTLI

Mysterious. Once considered sacred in Aztec culture. Double as therapeutic heating pads. Don’t you want to hear a college football announcer pronounce Xoloitzcuintli? I want to hear Mack Brown say it.

BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG PUPPY

If you’re an upstart college football program and you need the internet to pay attention to you, make your team the University of Whatever Bernese Mountain Dog Puppies. We will cover your every step. This is my promise to you, eccentric billionaires of the world.

[clapping emojis] We. Need. Better. Dog. Mascots.

I am not a crackpot.