If you’re like me, a rabid sports fan who also writes sports, you probably wonder how Penn State University’s athletic teams’ mascot nickname the Nittany Lions came to fruition.
Well, in 1904, Penn State baseball player Joe Mason came up with the moniker. At the time, Penn State didn’t have a mascot, so when Princeton players gibed the Penn State team over how their Bengal tiger mascot was the coolest, Mason retorted that Penn State had the Nittany Lions, “the fiercest beast of them all.”
The name came from their location: Penn State is situated in the Nittany Valley, near Nittany Mountain, and the lions he was referring to were mountain lions that once roamed the region.
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Source: Los Angeles Times
— Jerry Del Priore