99 Things – #17 The Western Kentucky Hilltopper


We could not go through this whole series without talking about the best mascot in all of college football. Anyone who disagrees with this sentiment and I am sorry you feel that way. Western Kentucky has seen numerous talented players come through the program but none are more synonymous with the university than Big Red. Bailey Zappe set the record for most touchdowns in a single season but he will never be as popular as their beloved Hilltopper. Big Red gets the honor of being part of our 99 Things coming in at number 17.

Big Red was created by a Western Kentucky student by the name of Ralph Carey. Carey was looking to create a mascot for the university to help bring student involvement and excitement to the school’s basketball team. Carey wanted something unique which stayed away from Kentucky stereotypes. He came up with the red blob looking costume which was approved by the university. The first Big Red costume cost $300 and debuted on December 1, 1979. Big Red made his debut at a Hilltopper football game in the fall of 1980.

The Capital One Mascot Challenge Hall of Fame (yes this does exist) inducted Big Red in 2012. He was the first member of the Mascot Hall of Fame. Big Red also also ranked tenth in the inaugural Cheetos Top 25 Cheesiest College Mascots. The Western Kentucky mascot was also selected to the Mascot All-American team in eight of the 10 years it existed. The Hilltopper has consistently been viewed as one of the best mascots in college sports and rightfully so. Creative and unique makeup a successful mascot and Big Red does both. Understanding exactly what character, animal or person a mascot is supposed to be is not important. Western Kentucky has also done a great job marketing Big Red to help their brand and become known across college sports.

Mascots have become part of college football. Some mascots are creepy and weird (Looking at you Clemson), while others have an amazing brand. Georgia and Texas have live mascots which people love to see. The Stanford Tree has an unmatched twitter personality. Big Red is arguably the best all-around mascot. Ask any of The Walk-On Redshirts writers and they are bound to have Big Red in their top five college football mascots. Typically I do not watch many Western Kentucky games but I will make a point to watch Big Red on television at least a few times every fall. 17 more days until we can see mascots in person and on television once again.

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