Last week, we talked about the Great American Conference, the hotbed of fantastic mascots and wonderful rivalry hardware in the NCAA’s Division II. That was productive, so we’re going to continue in the same vein this week with another conference of indisputable distinction and utter glory:
It’s time we talked about the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
WHO IS THE MIAA?
Fourteen schools in the heart of the old Big Eight footprint, spread across Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Those schools are: Central Missouri, Central Oklahoma, Emporia State, Fort Hays State, Lincoln, Lindenwood, Missouri Southern State, Missouri Western State, Nebraska-Kearney, Northeastern State, Northwest Missouri State, Pittsburg State, Southwest Baptist, and Washburn.
NOTABLE ALUMNI OF THE MIAA
Paul Rhoads (Missouri Western)
Dennis Franchione (Pittsburg State)
Phog Allen (Central Missouri)
Carrie Underwood (Northeastern State)
What a collection. Three people I’d trust to run any college football program, and Paul Rhoads.
MIAA PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE MIAA
In Saturday night’s 51-13 domination of Missouri Southern, Lindenwood tight end Erik Henneman pulled in eight receptions for 74 yards and four touchdowns, setting a school record in the process.
MIAA GAME OF THE WEEK, THE WEEK I COVERED THE MIAA
Missouri Western scored 13 fourth-quarter points Thursday night to seal a 23-13 win over #5-ranked Fort Hays State, the Griffons’ first win over a ranked team since 2012.
AND NOW, LET’S RANK SOME MASCOTS
14. Northeastern State RiverHawks
A minute amount of credit can be given for moving away from a racially offensive mascot, though this move was only made in 2006 after a NCAA rule change necessitated it, so let’s not be too generous. Also, “RiverHawks” is about as tidy a rebrand as “RedHawks”, and that just makes me think of how Miami University just lost its 13th straight game against its historic rival, whoever that is. I will grade this mascot “pass”.
13. Lindenwood Lions
12. Missouri Southern State Lions
Jauntier. More stylish. Lions may not be the most original choice, but I’ll say it: this conference has lions down.
11. Fort Hays State Tigers
I love all of these big beautiful cats. I want to voice the human character in a Saturday morning cartoon wherein the three big cats I’ve just shown you form a band. I play their befuddled manager who has to rein in their youthful antics and occasionally pay off someone after a mauling.
10. Lincoln Blue Tigers
This guy’s the manager of the rival band who tries to freeze us out of the battle of the big cat bands. He’s a scoundrel, but don’t you sort of want a scoundrel as your mascot? I know I do. This guy gets results.
9. Emporia State Hornets
This image that I’m about to show you is not, to the best of my understanding, the official mascot styling of the Emporia State Hornets, but rather appears to be an image created to advertise the university theater program’s 2012 production of Guys and Dolls. That said, it’s a tremendous mascot and it should absolutely be the official one.
Put that on a helmet right this minute.
8. Central Oklahoma Bronchos
Sure, they’re not the only team around named the Broncos/Bronchos. Sure, they’re not even the only one to have a blue horse as the logo. Boise State’s got that down. But you know what I like about this guy here? He reminds me of the terrifying horse sculpture that greets you outside the Denver International Airport.
Iconography is never an accident, therefore I can reasonably infer that the Central Oklahoma Bronchos, much like DIA, sit atop a massive government conspiracy, which is the foundation of any successful college football program. Just ask Alabama.
(TIE-6). Southwest Baptist Bearcats / Northwest Missouri State Bearcats
Last week I applauded the Great American Conference for having the guts to be a Double Bison Conference; similarly, I must fete the MIAA for the forward-thinking and vision to be a Double Bearcat Conference. Where RiverHawks suggests “I have lost 13 straight to my rival”, Bearcats is a powerful message, one that says with confidence, “I have beaten Miami of Ohio 13 years in a row”.
We’re not talking about FBS football here, but aren’t we? Moving on. We’re getting to the good ones now.
5. Missouri Western Griffons
This was actually an investment bank until the 2008 financial crisis, when they surreptitiously rebranded as a college football team to escape prosecution, knowing that the NCAA is truly the last place the regulators will ever look.
4. University of Nebraska-Kearney Lopers
3. Pittsburg State Gorillas
What a genuinely lovely logo. Pleasant colors, soothing ‘70s-esque graphic design style. I look into his eyes, and I see myself, I see the humanity, and ah crap he’s eating my face off
2. Central Missouri Mules & Jennies
This is the second straight week in which I have profiled a Division II conference that has a mule-based mascot. Do you know how many FBS schools have mule mascots? None, unless we’re counting Will Muschamp.
Allow me to propose the following schools in each Power 5 conference that should be rebranded to a mule or mule-derived mascot:
Big Ten: Illinois
Pac-12: Arizona State, because Herm Edwards finds it less blasphemous than their current one
Big 12: The loser of this year’s Baylor-Texas game
SEC: Mississippi State
I am not a crackpot.
Finally, who’s #1? Who’s got the best mascot in this lovely conference full of distinguished mascots?
1. Washburn Ichabods
The Washburn Ichabods are named after the founder of the university, industrialist Ichabod Washburn. This is a tremendous stunt, even for an industrialist. T. Boone Pickens wishes he could get the Oklahoma State Cowboys renamed the Pickens T-Boones. (I also wish this, for the record.)
Does the logo live up to the massive swagger of the name?
Look at this dapper fellow. What’s under his arm? Why, it’s the bag. He’s secured it - and our hearts.