Getting to know you

On July 1, the Big 12 Conference welcomed new members for the first time as West Virginia University and Texas Christian University became part of the league. Need a primer on our two new sister schools? Here’s a quick look at each.



1867, public land-grant

Old Gold and Blue

Nickname: Mountaineers
West Virginia became the “Mountaineers” in the mid-1930s on the heels of rejected mascots “Snakes” and “Miners.”

Mascot: The Mountaineer
West Virginia is one of a handful of universities that still exclusively uses a human mascot. The application process to become the Mountaineer, selected by a student group known as the Mountain Honorary, is very rigorous and includes an essay, interviews, and a trial performance at a late season basketball game. Only one student and an alternate are selected annually, and the job comes with up to 500 appearances per year. Although a beard is often grown, its requirement is a popular WVU myth; in fact, two women have previously donned the Mountaineer buckskins. The West Virginia Alumni Association’s Washington, D.C., chapter donates money every 5-6 years to commission the handcrafting of the Mountaineer’s musket.

Athletics traditions

  • Country Roads: The theme song of West Virginia University, “Country Roads,” has been performed before every home football game since 1972, and John Denver performed it live in 1980. Today it is a tradition for fans at Milan Puskar Stadium to sing the song together after every home victory.
  • Rolling out the Carpet: An elaborate blue and gold carpet is rolled out before every Mountaineer home basketball game, upon which the players run out. One of college basketball’s most recognized traditions, it was begun in 1955.
  • Mountaineer Maniacs: The largest student group on campus, formed to show support for WVU athletics, is active at all Mountaineer contests.
  • FanFest: Thousands of students and fans gather on Mountainlair Plaza to hear the band, meet the cheerleaders and Mountaineer, and cheer on head coach Dana Holgorsen’s football team. It’s the biggest pep rally of the season
    at WVU.

To do in Morgantown

  • Dining: Located about a mile and a half from campus, Mario’s Fishbowl is a local bar and grill that many alumni consider a “must-visit.” Sign the wall and sample some beer out of a (you guessed it) fishbowl. The Boston Beanery is another local favorite for food and drink.
  • Taste an original: West Virginia is famous for inventing the pepperoni roll. Stop at one of the Morgantown’s many local restaurants to taste one.
  • Outdoor recreation: “Morgantown is very mountainous. Everything is located on a ‘hill,’ as we call them,” said Tara Curtis of WVU’s Alumni Association. “We’ve got beautiful outdoor recreational activities here. We’re located on the river; we have trails that run along the river for people who like to walk, bike, or run. And Coopers Rock State Park has unbelievable vistas and trails.”
  • Visit campus: The original West Virginia University campus was built on a hill, and the rest of the town grew up around it. To accommodate university growth, WVU today has two campuses linked by a transit system called the PRT. The football stadium and WVU’s new alumni center are located on the Evansdale (newer) campus. The alumni center is open to visit for pregame
    festivities on gameday.

ISU-West Virginia football series history
The Cyclones and Mountaineers have never met on the gridiron.

Notable matchups in other sports
The ISU women’s basketball team played TCU and West Virginia in back-to-back games at the Paradise Jam Tournament in November 2010. The Cyclones defeated TCU, but lost to the 10th-ranked Mountaineers, 64-53. The Cyclone volleyball team defeated WVU in the schools’ only meeting in that sport in 2003. West Virginia brings the welcome addition of a wrestling program back to the Big 12 after the losses of Nebraska and Missouri in recent years had taken the league down
to three teams.

ISU vs. West Virginia 2012
Friday, Nov. 23, Jack Trice Stadium

tcu-utah fans & field


1873, private

Purple and White

Nickname: The Horned Frogs
There are two stories floating around Forth Worth about the origin of TCU’s unique nickname. One goes as follows: The unimproved field on which the school’s first football team practiced teemed with horned frogs. Because it was observed that the players scampered about like the fierce-looking and sturdy creatures, the players began referring to themselves as such and the name stuck. The second story purports that a four-student committee chose the name in 1897 for their team and for the first yearbook, which was to be published that year. “There may be truth to both stories,” says Rick Waters, a campus history expert and assistant editor of The TCU Magazine. “Addison Clark Jr., who is credited with bringing about both the first yearbook and the first football team, was fascinated with horned frogs and likely influenced that decision.”

Mascot: Super Frog
Super Frog became the official mascot in 1979, following Addy the All-American frog, who had served in the role for the previous 30 years.

Athletics traditions

  • Frog Horn: This 3,000-pound train whistle was given to TCU as a gift sports_tcufroghornfrom Burlington Northern Railroad in 1994. The contraption, which is painted purple and mounted on a four-wheeled trailer, is designed to look like a horned lizard and blasts every time TCU scores a touchdown. It can reach up to 120 decibels.
  • Frog sign: Every school in the Lone Star State has a hand gesture, and TCU is no exception. During the alma mater and fight song, fans fold over their index and middle fingers to mimic the horns on a horned lizard.
  • Bleacher Creatures: At each football game, this group of young Horned Frogs fans is led onto the field by Super Frog and runs out of a tunnel with the team. The concept was the brainchild of head coach Gary Patterson, who suggested it as a way to make games more family-friendly. The tradition has been around long enough that there is now a former Bleacher Creature on the TCU roster – defensive tackle David Johnson.
  • Alma Mater/Fight Song/Riff Ram Chant: Win or lose, TCU’s teams always linger on the field after a competition to sing the alma mater and fight song with the TCU Marching Band and cheerleaders. Students have done the “riff ram” chant at home games since the early 1900s.

To do in Fort Worth

  • Dining: Fort Worth has some of the best Tex-Mex and BBQ cuisine in the Southwest. Joe T. Garcia’s, located in the Fort Worth Stockyards, is known for its fajitas and enchiladas. Railhead Smokehouse and Angelo’s Barbecue are legendary spots to try treats such as ribs, brisket, and smoked sausage.
  • Fort Worth Museum District: Fort Worth is known as a city that celebrates western heritage, and several area museums on the subject make the district the “Museum Capital of the Southwest.”
  • Sundance Square: Rated the “cleanest, safest big-city downtown in the U.S.,” Fort Worth’s shopping, dining, and entertainment district is a major
    attraction for visitors. Find out more at
  • Frog Alley: TCU’s free pregame party starts two hours before kickoff on the east side of the stadium. Live music, food and beverage vendors, live game broadcasts, youth activities, and pep activities are part of the fun.

ISU-TCU football series history
The Cyclones are 0-3 all-time against the Horned Frogs, including a 27-10 loss in Fort Worth in 1995, a 31-21 loss at Jack Trice Stadium in 1998, and a 27-24 loss in the 2005 Houston Bowl at Reliant Stadium.

Notable matchups in other sports
A men’s basketball matchup between the Cyclones and Horned Frogs left Johnny Orr feeling miffed at the 1991 San Juan Shootout. Freshman Fred Hoiberg made a lay-up with 18 seconds left to give ISU a 52-50 lead, but TCU responded by converting a 3-point play thanks to what many witnesses would describe as a phantom goaltending call. “I thought they called a foul, but I never dreamed they’d give him the basket,” Orr said. “The ball was not even near the basket.” The Cyclones lost, 53-52. The Cyclone women’s basketball team is 2-0 all-time vs. TCU. The Cyclones won the first meeting in 1986 at Hilton Coliseum and also beat the Horned Frogs in the 2010 Paradise Jam tournament.

ISU vs. TCU 2012
Saturday, Oct. 6, Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas


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