An interesting story about each team in present Top25. There is a short paragraph tracing back the nickname for each. UM, MSU, OSU, Wisc., and Nebraska are included. Most are generally known, but a few I found interesting. Most involving a change in name for one reason or the other:
Knew they were originally called the Indians, but didn’t know the student body held an election to decide on a new nickname, and Robber Barons won, the school president felt the moniker was disrespectful to school founder and railroad magnate Leland Stanford, (even though he historically was considered one).
After name change from Michigan Agricultural College, wanted a name change to disassociate from “Aggies”, after a vote the winning entry “Staters” was deemed too unimaginative for the sports editor of the Lansing State-Journal, so he decided to choose another one and started calling them the Sportans, which he later changed to Spartans..
Originally called the Webfoots. Californians used it as a derisive nickname for their rain-soaked neighbors to the north, while Oregonians embraced the moniker with pride. However, the present “Ducks” nickname emerged out of sportswriters’ need for a shortened version of Webfoots to appear in headlines. (Again the power of the press.)
article: How Every School in the AP Top 25 Got Its Nickname