As part of our summer of education, the second part of our History of Kentucky Wildcats,..."/> As part of our summer of education, the second part of our History of Kentucky Wildcats,..."/>

The History of the Kentucky Wildcats: The Wildcat


As part of our summer of education, the second part of our History of Kentucky Wildcats, WildcatBlueNation presents: The Wildcat.

The Wildcat will turn 103 this October, marking a tradition at Kentucky that dates back to 1909 and a football game against Illinois.

The legend according to, involve a little poetic license, but says that “Commandant Philip W. Corbusier”, a grizzly man sporting a fine white moustache that would make Tom Selick green with envy, stood stately with his hands firmly grasping his decorated military green blazer, back-lit by the rays of light cast through a century old stained glass window while telling “a group of students in a chapel service following the game that the Kentucky football team had “fought like Wildcats” and as the final words passed his lips, the organs rang heavenly notes, sirens from nearby fire stations went off without being wound, and doves flapped out of the bell towers gracefully.

But just as you are able to picture the jaw dropping moment, you can realize that just as easily the well documented meeting could show the Commandant equally saying something about the fighting abilities of any other animate or inanimate object.

In fact, in 1909 language, the University could have merely been syllables away from being the mongeese, or basilisks , or the snappers.

You could possibly be visiting a site named MongooseBlueNation or BlueSnapperNation at this time for your Kentucky sports information.

But lets face it. There was fate at hand and Mongoose and Kentucky go together like Makers 46 and Coca-Cola. Snappers and UK are like Ashley Judd at a Louisville basketball game wearing red. They don’t work. Any other name just isn’t as lovely.

But as such, the nickname is a very popular NCAA collegiate mascot, ranking #4 among all mascots as of December 2011. (1. Eagles (61institutions), 2. Tigers (46), 3. Bulldogs (39),  4. Cougars (32), 4. Wildcats (32), 6. Panthers (31), 6. Pioneers (31), 8. Lions (30), 8. Warriors (30), 10. Knights (26)).

And despite having embraced the nickname for nearly 70 years, it wasn’t until 1976-1977 that a mascot began prowling the sidelines of Commonwealth and end-lines of Rupp, after Gary Tanner danced and entertained thousands.

Over the years since, a Wildcat on stilts welcomed the Melvin Turpin/Sam Bowie era, and a more cartoonish version “Scratch” joined the ranks.

No one will ever know what a poisonous lizards on stilts or laying on a canopy doing pushups will look like… but we all know one thing, he would have 8 national championship rings and a blue (and nearly blue, white, and yellow) nation of fans behind him all the way.