In the last few weeks, we’ve covered how several colleges adopted their nicknames. Often names that seem a little odd today, are traditional and have more than a little bit of history. At the University of Central Florida (UCF), there isn’t 100 years of football history, and in fact, there isn’t 100 years of history. The school opened in 1968, just east of Orlando, originally named Florida Technological University (FTU). Today, UCF boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the United States, and is the second largest university in the country when graduate students are counted.
The school’s first mascot was the Citronaut, which was designed by the brother-in-law of the school’s first president. According to the UCF website, “the mascot looked like a cross between an orange and a character out of The Jetsons, a popular cartoon of the time.” Either way, the students weren’t having any of it — It only appeared once in 1968, and was never officially adopted by the school.
The Student Government Association and school paper, the FuTUre, proposed “Vincent the Vulture.” The name was inspired by the ever-present vultures that circled the campus, located on newly cleared land where a pine forest had stood. According to the UCF website, the first rendering looked ominous and mean, but later drawings portrayed a friendly, even comical bird character. The debate between Citronauts and Vultures had just begun.
The story continues in the summer of 1970 when students offered suggestions on the much-maligned mascot crisis. “Operation Mascot” soon commenced and a committee comprised of students, staff, and faculty members reviewed submissions, eventually narrowing the selection down to four.
- Sun Devils
- The Golden Paladins
- The Knights of Pegasus
The student vote wasn’t even close, with the winner getting 824 of 1,313 student votes. Golden Paladins finished second. Intercollegiate sports began in 1970, with the FTU teams named “Knights of the Pegasus.” This name remained in place for nearly 25 years, when slow merchandise sales led to a 1993 change to Golden Knights. When the school moved from the Citrus Bowl to a newly-built, on-campus stadium, they became known simply as the Knights.
90 DAYS UNTIL THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICK OFF!
Our countdown started last Tuesday with the history of different school mascots:
Friday – Demon Deacons
Saturday – Eagles
Monday – Falcons
Tuesday – Gators
Wednesday – Hokies
Thursday – Jayhawks
We didn’t include Black Knights, Scarlet Knights in this countdown, the color is part of the name and start with B or S. Those Knights will get a different day.