Gonzaga University
Whether you call them Bulldogs or Zags, Gonzaga students, fans and alumni answer loud and proud. Especially when they’re in the “Kennel,” aka the McCarthey Athletic Center, a raucous assemblage sporting blue, white and red, and cheering for their team. Beyond 1984 graduate and NBA Hall of Fame player John Stockton, Gonzaga basketball didn’t gain national fame until 1999 when this small Spokane, Wash., school stormed into March Madness all the way to the Elite Eight. Since then, Gonzaga has gone from “mid-major” darling to a perennial powerhouse in the West Coast Conference and an annual attendee to the NCAA tourney. Zag students go to great lengths to see their beloved Bulldogs, even camping out in “Tent City” (often in freezing temperatures) for prized tickets to home games. And every year, thousands of Zag fans line up for “Kraziness in the Kennel,” a carnival and Bulldogs scrimmage game that kicks off the basketball season.
Top Rivals:
BYU, Pepperdine
Style Facts:
In the early years when Gonzaga still had a football team, the players were called “The Blue and Whites” or “The Fighting Irish” (in the hope of becoming a Notre Dame of the West). After a game in 1921, a reporter wrote that Gonzaga fought tenaciously like bulldogs. That moniker stuck and was adopted for all the school’s teams. Over the years, numerous live bulldogs served as Gonzaga’s mascot. In 1980, the dogs were replaced with “Captain Zag,” a student wearing a cape. But the school returned to its “tenacious” heritage in 1985 with “Spike the Bulldog,” both the comical costumed mascot and the imposing bronze statue that stands guard at the arena doors.