Nebraska unveiled a new version of Herbie Husker during Saturday’s spring game. And based on the reaction, it’s been the talk of the state all week.

Just watch this hype video, which provides a rare combination of dramatic music and a man with giant foam hands and feet.

The hype video evidently did its job, because the Memorial Stadium crowd went bonkers as the New Herbie made his grand debut on the back of a motorcycle.

The updated Herbie is a throwback to the original formula after Nebraska spent 20 years with a New Coke version of the mascot. He’s got overalls and an ear of corn in his back pocket.

A real Cornhusker.

And now that he’s in the fold, we can get to the important business of ranking the Big Ten’s mascots.

Here goes nothin’.

Big Ten mascot rankings

1. Goldy Gopher

Goldy is the most versatile mascot in the B1G, updating his look for every Minnesota sporting event. You can also count on Goldy wearing a costume over his costume every Halloween, which is the Inception-type of behavior that really impresses the voters on this panel. (Me.)

Goldy’s signature head spin is the move that puts him, well, head and shoulders above the competition.

And though the character isn’t as bold as the frequently ejected Stanford Tree, Goldy tends to take more risks than his Big Ten brethren.


2. Brutus Buckeye

Brutus Buckeye is living proof that you can take the most boring concept for a mascot — a nut — and turn it into something spectacular with the proper vision.

Only Goldy can match Brutus on the overall enthusiasm scale.

Brutus also has the next-best signature move behind Goldy: punching himself in the head.

I’m going to laugh every time I see someone punch themselves in the head as an expression of excitement. I don’t care if this means I’m at the amusement level of a 3rd grader.

3. Sparty

Sparty is so effective that “Sparty” has become shorthand for describing Michigan State’s teams when you just don’t want to write out “Spartans” or “MSU” is too vague on account of Mississippi State.

Sparty has starred in multiple ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercials. So even though his bulky costume doesn’t allow for as many antics as Goldy or Brutus, he’s still a comedy legend.

4. Bucky Badger

Just as Chuck E. Cheese is short for Charles Entertainment Cheese, Bucky Badger is actually a shortened version of his government name: Buckingham U. Badger. The U, like the S in Harry S. Truman, does not appear to stand for anything.

Along with Sparty, Bucky is a member of Mascot Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, and deservedly so. Bucky puts in work, doing pushups for every point Wisconsin scores. That equated to 573 pushups in an 83-20 win over Indiana in 2010, though work was less exhausting in the Graham Mertz era.

5. Herky the Hawk

Herky is a bit problematic in the sense that Hawks don’t actually have teeth.

Of course, Gophers can’t actually spin their heads and Buckeyes can’t walk or punch themselves in the head, so we can’t get too hung up on that depiction. But it does make it hard for Herky to break into the top tier.

Despite the goofy look, Herky has some top-notch mascoting skills.

6. The Nittany Lion

The Nittany Lion’s costume looks like it was purchased at a thrift store, which is a demerit. But the distinctive scarf is a cool piece of flair.

And though there’s a temptation to put Penn State’s mascot much lower in these rankings, we can’t ignore the athletic skills involved in the signature back flip.

7. Herbie Husker

Turning Herbie back into a overalls-clad Cornhusker rather than a generic guy wearing a Nebraska outfit was the right move.

However, I can’t unsee the new Herbie’s facial resemblance to Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.

8. Willie the Wildcat

Willie is kind of just there. Not a bad mascot, but not a memorable one either.

He’s kind of like a person you went to high school with, then forgot existed a decade later. Then when you see him, you think “Oh yeah, that guy. Always seemed nice enough.”

9. Testudo

There is absolutely no way Testudo is protected by this half-assed shell. Major demerit. But, bonus points for being a turtle. Uniqueness matters.

10. Sir Henry

If you’re asking yourself, “Who is Sir Henry?” you’re probably not alone. Turns out that’s the name of Rutgers’ mascot, which comes as a surprise to those of us who assumed it was something generic like The Scarlet Knight.

Sir Henry is named for Henry Rutgers, who is the university’s namesake. He is reminiscent of Sparty, but not as cool.

11. Lil’ Red

Nebraska’s inflatable mascot for the kids, Lil’ Red is reviled by many. But sometimes there’s a need for an inflatable sidekick.

12. Purdue Pete

Purdue Pete provides the answer to the question, “Which mascot would you least like to see at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night?”

Pete’s creepiness is elevated by the fact he’s a mascot head placed on top of a regular human body. There are no other parts to the costume.

Just the plastic, dead-eyed stare of a homicidal railroad man. There’s no question who was responsible for putting Casey Jones on the wrong track.

It was Pete.

N/A (in order of validity)


Chief Illiniwek served as Illinois’ mascot from 1926-2007, when it was finally determined that having a white student dressed up in buckskins as a dancing Native American chief was not appropriate. (To this day, there’s a semantic debate used by staunch supporters that the Chief was not a university “mascot,” but a university “symbol.”)

There has been a recent push to use the orange-and-blue Belted Kingfisher as a new Illinois mascot, but that has received pushback from those loyal to reinstating the Chief.

Expect Illinois to remain stuck at nothing for a while.


Good luck finding a good way of depicting a Hoosier.

Indiana has tried, and failed, in this quest through the decades.

From 1965-69, a bison was used as the official mascot, though apparently the bulky costume was too hot for anyone to want to do the job. (There is a bison pictured on Indiana’s official state seal, because they still roamed the state circa 1816.)

In 1979, a mascot returned in the form of Mr. Hoosier Pride, who bore some resemblance to Wake Forest’s Demon Deacon. He lasted all of 1 year, and there’s never been a mascot since.


“A mascot?!? Such a childish symbol is beneath the dignity of a Michigan Man! You’ll never see such juvenile pursuits in Ann Arbor!” — Michigan fans, probably.

Michigan probably has enough money to pay Hugh Jackman to dress as Wolverine and serve in a mascot role. The current Broadway star would gladly sing “The Victors” over the PA system every time the Wolverines score, too.

But outside of that scenario, we probably won’t see a Michigan mascot any time soon.