As the North Texas Mean Green prepare for their first season in the AAC, we dive into the history of the Mean Green mascot — one of the more confusing mascot/nickname mismatches in college football.
What Is the North Texas Mean Green Mascot?
“Scrappy” is the Mean Green mascot, a larger-than-life eagle with a pointed, ferocious, beak that encapsulates the “mean” element of the program’s moniker. Unlike most eagles you’ll find in a zoo or the wild, the North Texas mascot has an impressive wingspan in a shade of the team’s distinctive green, while sporting the uniform of the sports team it represents.
We know what you’re thinking. What on earth has an eagle got to do with “Mean Green”? Well, the Mean Green mascot actually refers to the program’s long-held official nickname rather than the current and well-known moniker.
Although the program was formed in 1913, North Texas spent its first years without a formal mascot. Having been referred to as “the Normal Boys” and “Normalities” early on, it was decided in the early 1920s that the program needed an official mascot.
Like in-state rivals Texas State, the student body wanted to find a nickname that was unique to the program. The focus for North Texas was discovering a name that would be unique in the state of Texas. As a result, Eagles was chosen over Dragons and Hawks.
North Texas was officially known as the Eagles in 1922, but the Mean Green mascot remained absent until 1950, when a live Golden Eagle made an appearance at an October clash with Oklahoma Tech.
A naming contest saw the bird christened Scrappy, and he was a constant presence at North Texas games up until his death in 1959. Live eagles made a brief return to the program in 1967, but “problems with the live mascots” saw them permanently replaced by a costumed mascot in 1969.
Mr. Eagle — the original costumed Mean Green mascot — made his debut in 1963. The bird was birthed of leather, plastic, and chicken wire and formed the basis for future iterations of the feathered friend of the North Texas college football program.
Over the years, the Mean Green mascot has held various names and sported multiple faces and costume changes. In 1995, however, a return to Scrappy — the original name of the live eagle mascot — was announced at the North Texas clash with Alabama.
Why Is North Texas Called Mean Green?
With the Mean Green mascot having been an eagle — live or costumed — since 1950, it begs the question, why is North Texas called the Mean Green?
There are conflicting reports that the program took its nickname from standout player and future NFL star “Mean” Joe Greene. However, that report is disputed by the North Texas program’s official website, which offers a different story entirely.
According to the site — via Randy Cummings of the Denton Record-Chronicle — North Texas took their nickname from the calls echoing around Fouts Field during a 1966 clash with what is now UTEP (formerly Texas Western College).
Sidney Sue Graham, who sadly passed at the age of 83 with her place in North Texas folklore safely secured, was an avid North Texas fan and particularly proud of a defensive unit that was viewed as one of the best in the nation.
On that day, however, the then-North Texas Eagles were behind their in-state rivals, and Graham attempted to whip up the crowd and players by yelling, “Come on green, get mean” or “Here we go, mean green” in reference to the teams usually ferocious defense and distinctly colored uniforms.
The chant took hold, and over the course of several seasons, the team began to be referred to as the “Mean Green” rather than the “Eagles” by fans and media alike. In 1973, it was officially adopted by the football team, with all North Texas sports teams taking on the nickname as of 2000.