He’s fuzzy, lovable and a great dancer. He does push-ups in the end zone and the worm under the basket. Willie the Wildcat is the king of the Evanston sidelines, winning our wind-chilled hearts with high-fives, practical jokes and his undying faith in the ‘Cats (except when he puts his paws over his eyes). We know what the standings say about how the Wildcats fare against the Badgers, Buckeyes, Hoosiers and Illini, but there’s no precedent for how Northwestern’s mascot would fare against Penn State’s or Purdue’s. What would happen if Willie the Wildcat went paw-to-paw with Minnesota’s Goldy Gopher? What if Willie and Michigan’s Biff had a dance-off? We at Northwestern love our feline, but how does he stack up against the Big Ten’s costumed competition?
Willie measures in at 6 feet tall, about the same size as Sparty — save for the fact that Sparty’s head constitutes half his height. The Hoosiers lack a mascot, but if we’re taking Hoosier to mean a resident of Indiana, we can guess he’d be about 5’9” (the average height for an American male, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Wisconsin’s Bucky is also in the 6 foot range, but the poor badger’s head is so small, it’s a miracle he can see out of those beady eyes. Willie is much taller than the Illini mascot — which doesn’t exist anymore after a controversy over the use of American Indian imagery.
It’s no secret that the wildcat isn’t exactly a unique mascot (think Kentucky and Arizona), but we at Northwestern like to think that at least Willie the Wildcat is all our own. The Big 12’s Kansas State would point out that that’s not the case, as Willie Wildcat also roams the sidelines in Manhattan, Kan. It’s safe to say the Nittany Lion wins the originality contest, considering its name comes from an obscure mountain in Pennsylvania. The Hoosiers place a close second, but only because a Hoosier is just a name for a person in Indiana, and there are only so many of those.
Willie’s a cutie, with his canine-toothed smile and those perfectly fluffy cheeks, but he’s sorely underrepresented in Northwestern’s logos. He’s not even in the school seal. Sure, there’s that “N” with his growling face plastered over it, but that barely looks like Willie; those black eyes and short ears just don’t do him justice. Sparty’s famous green profile is everywhere in East Lansing, and the Nittany Lion is the entirety of Penn State’s emblem.
Then again, Purdue Pete is nowhere to be found in the Boilermaker logos. Also forgotten is Brutus Buckeye, who’s absent from Ohio State’s famous logo featuring the red “O,” and even beloved Bucky Badger is absent from that renowned red “W.”
We know Willie has personality and spunk at the games, but let’s face it: Our beloved feline is a bit shy on the Internet. His Twitter account is a blasé repetition of Northwestern’s own news articles and blog posts, complete with proper capitalization and shortened links that have attracted a little more than 300 followers. Compare Willie’s online persona to Bucky Badger’s attempts to trend #BuckyEllenDanceOff and Sparty’s almost 5,000 followers, and you can see that our ‘Cat isn’t so wild on the web. Still, it doesn’t look like Iowa’s Herky, Purdue’s Pete or Michigan’s Biff have Twitter accounts at all, so at least Willie is 140 characters ahead of them.