Traditions - Mascot
Release: 07/15/2012
The Ram as Mascot

For nearly 70 years the mascot of North Carolina's football team has been a ram. Since Carolina's nickname is Tar Heels, it might seem strange to have a ram as a mascot. It is. But, there is a good explanation. It's offered by Vic Huggins, Carolina's head cheerleader back in 1924.

"In 1924 school spirit was at a peak," Huggins once explained. "But something seemed to be missing. One day it hit me. State had a wolf. What Carolina needed was a symbol."

Two years earlier the Tar Heels had posted a brilliant 9-1 record. The star of that 1922 team was a bruising fullback named Jack Merritt. Merritt was nicknamed "the battering ram" for the way he plunged into lines. It seemed natural to Huggins to link a mascot with Merritt's unusual sobriquet.

"Charlie Woollen, the athletic business manager at that time, agreed with the idea and gave us $25 to purchase a fitting mascot," said Huggins.

Rameses the First was shipped in from Texas, arriving just in time to be introduced at a pep rally before the VMI game. Complete with a monogram blanket on his back, Rameses helped make the pep rally one of the school's greatest.

Then the ram was taken to Emerson Field where Carolina was an underdog to a strong VMI team. But, for three quarters the Tar Heels battled the visitors to a scoreless tie.

Late in the fourth period Carolina's Bunn Hackney was called upon to attempt a field goal. Before taking the field he stopped to rub Rameses' head for good luck.

Seconds later Hackney's 30-yard dropkick sailed between the goalposts, giving the Tar Heels a 3-0 victory and a legendary mascot.

Tar Heels rams have traveled everywhere from New York City (for the Carolina-Notre Dame game in 1949) to Jacksonville for Carolina's Gator Bowl appearances.


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