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What If the Ohio State Buckeyes weren’t the Ohio State “Buckeyes”?

And instead were named after the official fruit of Ohio, for example?

NCAA Football: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing on with our “What If?” theme week, my “What-if” question was inspired by the latest by Ann K., a contributor over at On the Forecheck— SB Nation’s Nashville Predators community. She asked the question: What if the Nashville Predators weren’t the Nashville “Predators?”

You see, in 1971, a group of construction workers were working in downtown Nashville and came across a nine-inch saber tooth cat fang. This discovery became the inspiration for the NHL team 26 years later when they were officially named the Predators. But, what if it wasn’t a badass saber tooth cat fossil the construction workers found? What if “the famous blood-engorged mosquito fossil were discovered instead?”

In which case, Ann predicts the team would’ve been named the Nashville Skeeters, Nashville Drill Bugs or maybe the Nashville No-See-Ums.

So, this of course got me thinking about Ohio State’s mascot: the Buckeye.

A Buckeye, for those of you who don’t know, is a small, shiny, dark brown nut with a patch of tan coloration that grows on the official state tree of Ohio, the Buckeye tree. According to folklore, the nut was named “Buckeye” because it resembles the eye of a deer and carrying one brings good luck. (If you did not know any of that information, leave your name in the comments so that I may have a word with you.)

In 1965, two Ohio State students— Ray Bourhis and Sally Huber — decided that, since it was the official tree of Ohio, the school’s mascot should be a Buckeye. Can’t argue with that logic. It was also suggested that the mascot just be a plain buck (a male deer), considering a white tailed deer is the official animal of Ohio, but the mascot-naming duo were big into trees, apparently.

So here’s my what-if question: What if the students who were in charge of choosing the official name of Ohio State sports for the rest of eternity (seriously, how did they get that job?) weren’t so focused on the state’s tree, and were instead focused on the state’s official fruit?

I give you....

The Ohio State Tomatoes

Netherlands Under Coronavirus Pandemic Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

Team colors: Red and green. The players would wear green helmets and red everything else.

Mascot: Tom the Tomato. Picture Brutus Buckeye, but red.

Goal Song: “Home Grown Tomatoes” by John Denver

Upside: Tomatoes are like the king of all fruits (and if you’re one of those “tomatoes are a vegetable” people, leave your name in the comments so that I may have a word with you). All of the power five foods are elevated by the addition of tomatoes—pasta, grilled cheese, burgers, pizza, tacos. Even tomatoes’ biggest haters have to eventually admit that this is true.

Downside: Nothing is intimidating about tomatoes. However, the same can be said about a nut.


Not feeling it? Okay what about the official state bug?

Introducing....

The Ohio State Ladybugs!

Ladybugs Photo by Martin Schutt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Team colors: Red and black. The players’ uniforms would be all red, covered in black polkadots.

Mascot: I don’t know if you’ve seen Disney’s “A Bug’s Life,” however the lady bug character, Francis, is who comes to mind when I picture our mascot. A fandom website even lists his personality trait as “aggressive” which we love to see in a football team, no?!

https://pixar.fandom.com/wiki/Francis

Upside: According to National Geographic’s website, their spots and attractive colors make them unappealing to predators, along with their bad taste.

“Their coloring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: ‘I taste awful.’”

Ya hear that, Wolverines?!

Downside: “ladybugs”


Okay, let’s try one more to see if it sticks. If they went with the state reptile, we would be...

The Ohio State Black Racer Snakes

Now we’re talkin’!

https://animals.net/black-racer/

Team colors: Black and white. The players’ uniforms would feature scales on the jerseys and pants.

Team logo: Just a black cartoon snake with its tongue out like in the photo above...but more approachable and less overall disgusting. (I’m not a big snake guy, if you couldn’t tell)

Goal Song: “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle.

Upside: Obviously, snakes are generally viewed as scary, intimidating, gross, unapproachable, gross, predators, dangerous, gross. etc. And according to Wikipedia, “the eastern racers are fast-moving, highly active, non-nocturnal snakes,” and they kill their prey by “pinning it bodily, pressing one or two coils against it to hold it in place instead of actually suffocating it,” which, if you take away the whole killing detail, is kind of what tackling is, right? (I swear if you people don’t read this after all this reptile/bug research I’ve been doing...)

Downside: Eastern black racer snakes are actually nonvenomous, which takes away a pretty intimidating quality. Also, snakes are GROSS.

Okay so, maybe the Buckeye was our best option as a team mascot. I’ll admit, sometimes it gets old having to explain to my Australian in-laws and friends what a Buckeye is and why Ohio State is named after a nut, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.