On the brink of March Madness, the Center Field editors were randomly discussing the ruthlessness, or lack thereof, of the MAAC mascots, and somehow realized that not many were too threatening. The Siena Saints, Iona Gaels, Manhattan Jaspers, Fairfield Stags, and our very own Marist Red Foxes rank low on that scale. While the Canisius Golden Griffins, Saint Peter’s Peacocks, Quinnipiac Bobcats, Rider Broncs, Monmouth Hawks, and Niagara Purple Eagles each have some things to send us Red Foxes back into our den.
The idea came upon us to create a Mascot March Madness bracket, writing about how these various brawls would go down and crowning a winner for taking out the rest. Some battles will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. And some will make you rethink what a Griffin or a Jasper even is. This is March and this, some would say, delivers even more madness.
Game 1: (9) Canisius Griffins vs. (8) Iona Gaels
Connor Kurpat: This matchup is similar to Jonathan’s in terms of not knowing what the mascot is for one of the teams, so let me resolve that real quick. Iona’s Gael mascot, according to TuscaloosaNews.com, represents a Celtic and Scottish highlander. And why is that associated with Iona, you may ask? Well, the college was founded by Irish Catholic brothers and scholars in 1940.
Knowing what a Gael is doesn’t really matter, though. He isn’t a knight of the roundtable or a wizard named Harry, so he wouldn’t fare very well against the Canisius griffin. The griffin swoops in, pounces the knockoff Braveheart, and turns him into mincemeat. The winged hybrid is ready for round two.
Winner: Canisius Griffins
Game 2: (10) Siena Saint Bernards vs. (7) Monmouth Hawks
Bridget Reilly: The Saint Bernard of Siena, Bernie, emerges from his humble abode of a college in Loudonville, NY patrolling his campus as he spies a wary foe above circling him. To Bernie, who is pushing 140 pounds, the Monmouth hawk looks like a small speck in the sky. However, higher ground serves better, observing the battlefield and the opponent’s weaknesses. What are some of Bernie’s weaknesses? His Milk-Bone treats and he is a sucker for a good nap.
The hawk swoops in for one of Bernie’s Milk-Bone treats to get his attention. With his eyes on the prize, Bernie runs after the hawk. The flood of drool from Bernie’s mouth begins to be too much as it starts to fly into his droopy eyes, partially blinding him. Satisfaction comes across his face as he feels the treat in his mouth, along with the leg of the hawk. No one can stop a Saint Bernard from protecting his family.
Winner: Siena Saint Bernards
Game 3: (11) Manhattan Jaspers vs. (6) Niagara Purple Eagles
Jonathan Kinane: For this one, I think we need to start with the question that everyone is asking themselves right now, “what is a Jasper?” Well, Google tells you that it is “an opaque reddish-brown variety of chalcedony.” Don’t say that to Manhattan, who chose the name in honor of Brother Jasper, who served at the college in the late 1800s.
Brother Jasper came from Ireland in 1861 to take the role of head of resident students and later worked as the prefect of discipline. While Brother Jasper might be more than a match for Notre Dame’s leprechaun, I don’t think an elderly Irishman, who I imagine with a walking stick and a thick brogue, has much of a chance against Niagara. The purple eagle uses an aerial assault to make things turn ugly for poor old Jasper.
Winner: Niagara Purple Eagles
Game 4: (9) Canisius Griffins vs. (1) Saint Peter’s Peacocks
Mackenzie Meaney: As we all know, St. Peters is breaking records in the March Madness tournament as being the only 15-seed to make the Elite Eight. However, their mascot, the unforgettable Peacock, is a confident, colorful and dramatic bird. I mean, you saw his dance battle against the Purdue mascot, right? Notice the mention of the male pronoun as well, because “peacock” refers to the male species of the bird and are the ones we think of when we picture those colorful feathers.
The griffin, on the other hand, is a literal mythical creature with the back half of a lion and the front half of an eagle. How do we categorize it? Is it more lion than it is eagle? Or vice versa? If we go with the lion perspective, the griffin will win almost 100 percent of the time because it is a) an apex predator and b) an animal that hunts peacocks in the wild. If we go with the eagle, well, the battle will go longer, but the Peacock would be able to break free from those talons and flee to safety as it would just release its vibrant tail feathers. Maybe the solution to victory is not in the interpretation of if the griffin is more lion than eagle, but if the peacock should have been the “peahen,” the term for the female species who have less saturated feathers, and thus less likely to be spotted by predators. However you spin it, I think the griffin upsets the peacock and moves forward.
Winner: Canisius Griffins
Game 5: Siena Saints vs. (2) Quinnipiac Bobcats
Ricardo Martinez: It’s a battle of two land animals between Siena’s Bernie the Saint Bernard and Quinnipiac’s Boomer the Bobcat, the classic dog versus cat debate. More people would pick the dog to win, but don’t sleep on Boomer whose camouflage spotted pattern on its body makes it hard for any animal to find it out in the wild, making it even more dangerous as a predator.
Sure, Bernie might weigh more than Boomer, but Boomer also has incredible speed, reaching a top speed of 30 miles per hour. Not sure the poor Saint Bernard would be able to keep up with such a fast animal, who, I should also add, has retractable claws that will pierce through any animal’s fur should they not be aware of their surroundings. Sorry dog, the cat’s got the advantage in this one.
Winner: Quinnipiac Bobcats
Game 6: (6) Niagara Purple Eagles vs. (3) Marist Red Foxes
Jonathan: I think we need to address the elephant in the room for this one. Frankie the Red Fox hasn’t performed too well in these single-elimination mascot matchups over the last years. In fact, his loss to the Quinnipiac Bobcat is still a painful memory for many of his supporters. Frankie swears this year will be different, but it’s been rumored that his mascot coach, Don Junne, is on the hot seat.
At the start of this one, things feel different. It looks as if the first-round bye has made Frankie sharper than ever. For a while, he outwits the predatory Purple Eagles who are still looking for “Shooter.” Once they figure out their mistake, the Eagles pounce on Frankie, sending him home with a series of bad cuts and another early exit from the mascot battle.
Somehow, Coach Junne earns himself an extension, even as his mascot loses yet another battle.
Winner: Niagara Purple Eagles
Game 7: (4) Rider Broncs vs. (5) Fairfield Stags
Connor: The Bronc versus the Stag, two creatures similar in stature, but different enough to create an interesting matchup. Both had the first round off, so they’ve had some time to rest and plan. The Stag, of course, has weapons built into his noggin, with antler tips curving and pointing in every direction. The Jägermeister poster boy isn’t as big as the Bronc, but he’s got the power and speed to pose a challenge. He’ll use his shorter frame and vicious antlers to attack the Bronc’s most important parts: his legs.
The Stags’ opponent isn’t a slouch either. Broncos are a wild, fiery bunch that even some of the best cowboys can’t tame. The untamed beast will use its bucking leg power to strike the Stag whenever it’s in range. The nearly 1000 pound weight advantage that the Bronc has will give him the edge in this one, likely needing only two or three good kicks to knock the Stag down for the count. Sorry Jäger, your guy ain’t winning this round.
Winner: Rider Broncs
Game 7: Canisius Griffins vs. Rider Broncs
Jarod Rodriguez (Center Field’s Social Media Master): To all the mythical beings and to all the members of the animal kingdom, I want a clean fight in this one. The Griffin successfully passed their Performance Enhancing Drug test that St. Peter Peacock’s fan base forced our hand to do by rallying on Twitter (shout-out @CFMarist), so the Griffin is indeed eligible to compete.
Pre-match, the Bronc received an inspirational DM from Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson that read: “Use your speed and lateral movement to scramble away from the Griffin’s reach. I believe in you!” That is exactly what the Bronc did in the opening moments of the match.
The Bronc galloped in zig-zags so the Griffin could not easily fly over and snatch them. The Griffin becomes irritated by the shiftiness of the Bronc and tries to run them down with their speed. The Bronc spots the Griffin in its peripherals and bucks the Griffin hard. Remembering the previous match against the Stag, the Bronco struts around thinking it’s over, but the resilient hybrid swoops its wings, rises to the sky, and pounces on the show-boating stallion. 10 points Gryffindor and a chance at the Championship.
Winner: Canisius Griffins
Game 8: Quinnipiac Bobcats vs. Niagara Purple Eagles
Mackenzie: A battle of land versus air. Sure, the Purple Eagle can swoop down and do some damage with its talons. However, I don’t think Monte is all that accurate, given Niagara’s men’s basketball’s .345 three-point shooting percentage this season (which feels low but correct me if I’m wrong I know nothing about basketball). Boomer is elusive, menacing and I think is too quick to get caught by a talon. Plus, when this happened in the wild, the bobcat won the contest AND put the eagle in its place. Boomer is a force to be reckoned with, and I think slips past the Purple Eagle and into the championship.
Winner: Quinnipiac Bobcats
Game 9: Canisius Griffins vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats
Bridget: I think Mackenzie brings up a good point in the quarterfinal game where the Canisius Griffins upset the Saint Peter’s Peacocks. Is the Griffin more lion than eagle? Or the other way around? It may be equal lion and eagle and if that’s the case, which I am saying it is, then how was this creature ever ranked 9th? Well, I am a sucker for an underdog story and I will be taking the Griffins all the way on this one. I just don’t see how this cat Boomer is going to battle a creature that equates with Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
Ricardo: Golden Griffins or Bobcats? Petey or Boomer? A mythical creature– lion and eagle– or a real animal? Griffins sound a lot cooler, but if there were points for alliteration, Boomer the Bobcat would win in that category. But let’s be real here, seedings aside, a lion-eagle creature would probably destroy a bobcat. I don’t care how fast a bobcat might be on land, a lion-eagle can probably run faster and this thing has wings. Also its talons, the talons on this Griffin are incredibly long and sharp. I’m sorry, but it would be illogical of me to pick against the Griffin.
Mackenzie: What better way to end our bracket than with a David and Goliath showdown? Sure, my peers picking the Griffin is a commendable choice. The Griffin is fast, it can fly, it even has a beak and a great aerial perspective, but, I don’t think the Griffin is the right pick. The Griffin might be seeded higher, but have you seen what Boomer looks like? Boomer is arguably the most fierce and scary-looking mascot in all of the MAAC. Those teeth, the sharp claws, the piercing stare. The Griffin? He’s one-dimensional (literally). If I was the Griffin, I wouldn’t even think to mess with Boomer. He may just be a cat after all, but at least he isn’t a mythical beast. You can witness all of the bobcats’ wild ability in most backyards in Connecticut. Boomer gets the crown, 2022 MAAC Mascot Tournament Champion.
Connor: I believe Master Yoda famously said “size matters not.” Unfortunately for Boomer, that’s not the case in this matchup. He’ll do some damage, using his smaller size and speed to mount the griffins back and dig in with his claws. That won’t get the job done. All the Griffin has to do is fly Boomer up high and let him go, and the wild cat will fly just about as good as a penguin. The Griffin dances the dance and earns the title of Champion that it so deserves.
Jonathan: I knew the selection committee made a questionable choice sticking the Golden Griffins with the 9-seed, and now, as I see them with a 3-1 lead in the opinions of the rest of the writers, it looks like their Cinderella run is almost complete. Well, let’s be honest, a creature that is half-lion, half-eagle should never really be counted out of anything. The Bobcat might have the advantage of being a tangible creature, but to me, it’s a no-brainer. Canisius and Western New York win, for once.
Jarod: A Bobcat vs a lion-eagle mixture… Maybe we have a bias towards felines. I wish Red Bull would sponsor Boomer to give him wings and maybe even the whole land vs air debate. Even with that disadvantage, the Bobcat is confident in their abilities cause of their ability to catch birds. But can a mythological creature like a Griffin be defeated? I do not think a bobcat can even defeat an eagle in real life; let alone an eagle-lion hybrid. Sorry Mackenzie and all my fellow Connecitcuters, it’s a wrap for the Bobcats and an underdog tournament run for the Griffins.
Winner: Canisius Griffins
Graphic and Feature Image Credit: Jarod Rodriguez