What's in a (nick)name?
In FCS college football, a lot.
The 125 programs have 84 different nicknames, with some sharing the same one.
With everything from Aggies to Wildcats, here's what you need to know about them:
Most frequent nickname
Eight programs go with Bulldogs and Gardner-Webb adds in the Runnin' Bulldogs. There are 15 different nicknames that start with the letter b.
Most unique nicknames
There are a lot to choose from, but nicknames that stand out include Blue Hose (Presbyterian), Catamounts (Western Carolina), Delta Devils (Mississippi Valley State), Demons (Northwestern State), Fighting Camels (Campbell), Hatters (Stetson), Jackrabbits (South Dakota State), Leathernecks (Western Illinois), Lumberjacks (Northern Arizona and Stephen F. Austin), Paladins (Furman), Red Flash (Saint Francis), Salukis (Southern Illinois), Sycamores (Indiana State), Thunderbirds (Southern Utah) and Toreros (San Diego).
Take us to the zoo
It's no surprise animal nicknames are everywhere in the FCS. Included are seven different Tigers and six Bears plus the Maine Black Bears.
It's for the birds
If you want to go bird watching, there are the Blue Hens, Cardinals, Eagles, Fighting Hawks, Gamecocks, Golden Eagles, Hawks, Mountain Hawks, Owls, Penguins, Redbirds, Redhawks, Seahawks, Skyhawks and Thunderbirds.
It's all in the family
Some teams in the same conference share the same nickname. The SWAC has three Tigers with Grambling State, Jackson State and Texas Southern. The Pioneer Football League (Butler and Drake) and the Southern Conference (The Citadel and Samford) have a pair of Bulldogs. New Hampshire and Villanova are the Wildcats in CAA Football, while the Southland Conference has Cardinals with Incarnate Word and Lamar.
They don't all end in "s"
The FBS has its Stanford Cardinal and others, the FCS has Dartmouth Big Green, Cornell Big Red, Presbyterian Blue Hose, Harvard Crimson, Elon Phoenix and Saint Francis Red Flash.
Don't forget the other Bison
The North Dakota State Bison are nationally recognized, having won six of the last seven FCS championships, so it's easy to overlook the Bison also are Bucknell and Howard.
The long and short of it
The nicknames of the Chattanooga Mocs, Kennesaw State Owls and Rhode Island Rams go only four letters each, while the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens top out at 16 letters.
What's old is new again
After competing for 22 years on the FBS level, the Idaho Vandals are back in the FCS this year. Also moving up to the subdivision are the North Alabama Lions.
Don't wait until Sunday
A whopping 13 NFL nicknames are represented in the FCS: Bengals, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Raiders, Rams, Seahawks and Vikings.
Wait, what sport is this?
There's at least three nicknames from the other three major sports leagues: MLB (Braves, Cardinals, Pirates, Tigers, even Tribe, if you will), NBA (Grizzlies, Hawks and Hornets) and NHL (Coyotes, Flyers and Penguins).
The FCS nicknames start with 20 different letters, but not i, n, u, x, y and z.
-- Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Photo courtesy North Carolina A&T Athletics)