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Why your mascot sucks – University of Nebraska

A lack of creativity and corn... that’s Nebraska

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Aww shucks—it’s Nebraska week. Before we get to Herbie and Lil’ Red, let’s watch Daniel Tosh burn Nebraska to the ground.


Nebraska was known as the Old Gold Knights during its inaugural football season in 1890. The school later changed its name to the Bugeaters, but then quickly decided to rebrand to separate itself and settled on the Cornhuskers and the color scheme of scarlet and cream.

However, the Cornhuskers name did not separate them too much, as it was a casual reference to the University of Iowa. Luckily for Nebraska, the name never caught on in Iowa.

C’mon Nebraska, keep your eyes on your own test…

About 56 years later, still having no mascot, the school decided to introduce one and settled on Corncob Man.

Truly a creative bunch at Nebraska—first they steal their name, then they come up with the most basic name for their mascot. Why not name him Francisco?

Why you ask?

Anyway, Corncob Man was, as you likely guessed, a corncob that looked like a man. With tassels as a hat, a green shirt and overalls, he was designed to look like a corn stalk.

Sadly, Corncob Man’s tenure as Nebraska’s mascot was short-lived when the school decided that it needed a better representation of a Nebraskan. So they decided to go with a 10-foot-tall costumed person, dressed in a plaid shirt, jean-bib overalls and a straw bucket for a hat.

The new mascot’s name? Huskie the Husker. Again, very creative.

My guess is that Huskie was that large so that the twisters couldn’t take him away.

Huskie roamed the sidelined at Nebraska games until 1970, when the school’s ticket manager acquired the rights to an illustration of a cartoon by Bill Goggin, of a Husker fan called Mr. Big Red.

Mr. Big Red, aka Harry Husker, like his predecessors did not last long, as the mascot’s massive fiber glass head was too large.

How large was it?

So large, it couldn’t even fit on the team bus, measuring 5-feet, 8-inches and weighing 70 pounds.

The school introduced Herbie Husker in 1974, but it still hung onto Mr. Big Red until 1988, a 14-year span where the school used both mascots.

Herbie’s debuted on-field debut in 1974 during the Cotton Bowl.

Herbie: Fully…. Creepy

Throughout his existence, Herbie has featured a couple of looks, but for the most part, he has been blonde and has worn overalls and a red cowboy hat.

However, in 2003, the school decided that Herbie would go through a makeover. Leading up to the makeover, the school posted a series of posts on the school’s athletics web site showing his transformation. Herbie’s transformation was said to have involved the mascot dropping 70 pounds of fat, gaining 50 pounds of muscle and also involved a trip to the barber.

With Herbie’s makeover yielding a stronger physique, Nebraska has really shown young boys that look up to Herbie that it is better to be buff than to just be yourself. Way to go Nebraska, good job promoting toxic masculinity.

When Herbie’s makeover was complete, he debuted a new look sporting a polo shirt, blue jeans and dark brown hair.

Clearly Nebraska doesn’t know that blondes have more fun…

Nebraska classified the update as making Herbie look more like present-day agricultural workers. Or in other words, Herbie became “Farm Chic.”

I bet was also an attempt to get him more matches at (Editor’s note: not sponsored.)

Regardless of all the changes, Herbie still creeps me out. I get that he has a big smile on his face, but it’s a smile that comes off as him having a secret—like he’s not fertilizing his corn with fertilizer, if you get what I am saying.

One interesting thing about Herbie, is that his hat can come off.

A not-so-little friend

The 8-foot-4-inch Lil’ Red was created in 1993 to appeal to younger Husker faithfuls and to feature at basketball and volleyball games. He is an inflatable mascot, which allows him to crowd-surf and to perform some other more acrobatic maneuvers that Herbie cannot.

Maybe neither of them can move very well...?

Lil’ Red was also the first inflatable mascot to be used in college or professional sports, meaning a sharpened No. 2 pencil could be his downfall.

He is also described as someone with the personality of an 8-year-old boy… so Herbie hangs out with an 8-year-old all the time…?

Which makes that creepier, considering he’s not his dad… where is Chris Hansen when you need him?

Regardless of the questionable nature of their relationship, fans sure do love the pair and some love Lil’ Red, a lot… so much that he was even asked to attend a funeral and be the pallbearer.

“We had done so many unique appearances. Yet surprisingly, knowing the Nebraska fans, the only thing we hadn’t done was a funeral,” said Marlon Lozano, Nebraska’s Spirit Squad Manager.

“Then about three years ago, we got the request for Lil’ Red to be a pallbearer.”

Unfortunately for the bereaved, Lil’s Red’s costume made him physically unable to hold the casket, but he still marched behind the procession.

Which begs the important question: if your mascot can’t hold a casket, why do you have them?

Honored Huskers

Even though Lil’ Red has been around less time than Herbie, he has received more honors.

Lil’ Red won the national championship at the NCAA National Mascot Competition in 1999, just six years after his debut. He was then inducted into the National Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006. While Herbie has only received one honor, it was an impressive one, as he was named National Mascot of the year for 2005.

I was hoping that both mascots would feature a strong online presence, but neither has tweeted sine 2016… I guess they lost their phones in a corn field.

Which I guess isn’t the worst thing, much like the corn they covet having no nutritional value, I am sure their tweets would also have no value…

Mascot Suck Index

Suck Ranking University Mascot Mascot Suck Index
Suck Ranking University Mascot Mascot Suck Index
1 University of Minnesota Goldy Gopher 100
2 Ohio State University Brutus 94
3 Purdue University Purdue Pete 92
4 Kent State University Flash the Golden Eagle 90
5 University of Illinois Chief Illiniwek 89
6 University of Nebraska Herbie Husker & Lil' Red 86
7 University of Iowa Herkey The Hawk 85
8 Michigan State University Sparty 63
9 Northwestern University Willy the Wildcat 62
10 University of Michigan N/A 60
10 Central Michigan University N/A 60
10 University of Southern Florida Rocky the Bull 60
13 Purdue University The Boilermaker Special 10
14 University of Wisconsin - Madison Buckingham U. Badger 0