Mascot Monday: Roc the Panther

This week we will take another look at a potential power pill to the Big Ten’s Pac-Manning of college football in the Pittsburgh Panthers.  This Big East team has been linked to a rivalry with Penn State and generally fits well with other potential teams like Syracuse and Notre Dame.  So how does ‘Roc’ the Panther stand up to mascot standards?  We’ll find that out as well as where this guy came from and why he’s the ‘Roc’.  So kick back and see if Roc rocks our world if, much like Sex Panther Cologne, he works 60% of time every time.

Of all of the stories of how a school conceived their mascot, Pitt enjoys the title of being the school with the most direct reasons.  Heres, as follows, are the reasons that Pitt chose the Panther in a meeting of students and alumni in 1909:

  1. The Panther was the most formidable creature once indigenous to the Pittsburgh region.
  2. It had ancient, heraldic standing as a noble animal.
  3. The happy accident of alliteration.
  4. The close approximation of its hue to the old gold of the University’s colors (old gold and blue), hence its easy adaptability in decoration.
  5. The fact that no other college or university then employed it as a symbol.

So basically, it was a unique creature mascot that had the same colors that used to live around their area and sounded.  That explains half of the animal mascots out there and we’d like to thank Pitt for not wasting our time with stories of individuals or newspapers concocting some strange journey to explain a pet.  We enjoy those alot but this is some fresh air in the category.

So where did the name ‘Roc’ come from?  Oh wait here’s the strange journey we were just complaining about.  ‘Roc’ came from Steve Petro.  The legendary player, coach, and administer is affectionately referred to as the “Rock upon which Pitt football grew.”  The former linemen who helped seal the blocks and the deal for the Panthers in the Rose Bowl back in 1937 went on to military status before coming back to be a coach.  Petro was the penultimate example of unwavering pride for one’s school and athletic teams.  Cue the Rudy music.

Now that we are swollen with emotion, let’s turned our watery eyes to the costumed critter.  There is some serious similarities between Roc and Penn State’s Nittany Lion.  Where they both enjoy the almost same colored fur from head to toe, the real distinguishing factor is in the enlarged head.  The Nittany Lion wears all the anger in the teeth but the Roc wears it in the eyes.  They watch you with every move.  We certainly dig the uniforms Roc sports as well, instead of just some stupid scarf.  Chalk the in state mascot rivalry to Roc and the Pitt Panthers for sure.

But is Pitt a good fit for the Big Ten?  Sure they can slide right in to some rivalries and such, but seeing as another school from the Big Ten already plants a flag in Pennsylvania, it doesn’t jive with Darth Delany’s Death Star plot to take over college football.  The footprint must go farther, like New York.  So while the school won’t work well with the Big Ten, we can say that the mascot kicks the conference’s ass for sure, at least on the eastern part of the territory.  Our hats and Will Ferrell references go out to you, Roc.  Stay strong and be resolute like your boy Petro.