Sunday, August 12, 2007

The iSchool Needs a Mascot!

As a former University of Oregon Duck, I have no love for Huskies. When the University of Washington basketball team visited MacArthur Court in Eugene during my undergrad years, I enjoyed heckling the players. I prayed for missed free throws, airballs, and turnovers and I cheered wildly when they happened. I thought that the purple and gold uniforms were the ugliest things I've ever seen. I felt a sort of pity for the Oregon State and Washington State teams, because their athletic programs did not attract as much funding or blue-chip recruits. But I hated the Huskies. I even went so far as to revel in the professional failures of Jerramy Stevens, Cody Pickett, and Marques Tuiasosopo, long after their graduation from UW.

Now, as a graduate student at the UW Information School, my hatred has cooled considerably. But I still have trouble identifying with a sled dog as a mascot. According to, the name was adopted because of Seattle's proximity to Alaska. Apparently the committee that voted on the nickname in 1922 was not aware that it's a 1,832-mile drive to Juneau (which would probably take at least 3 days on gravel mountain roads in a Studebaker). Apart from this geographic oversight, I don't understand why a domesticated dog with fluffy white fur got the nod over Wolves, Vikings, and Tyees...unless they were ranking them in terms of "most likely to cuddle." Perhaps the results would have been different if they had considered "hunting ability" and "most difficult to housebreak."

Now I'm not suggesting that we should wipe away 85 years of Husky tradition. I'm thinking small-scale. Maybe we should look at branding the Information School with a character that corresponds with our values and represents library culture. And not just a nerdier form of a Husky, like Michigan Tech's own Blizzard T. Husky. We need someone or something that says, "information is king and we know how to collect it, organize it, and retrieve it" and also implies some sort of hipness that can only be ordained by the New York Times. I have some interesting ideas and I'd like to hear yours!

But first, I'd like to present some unique college nicknames. Yes, these are real. And hopefully they will inspire you to dream of bigger and brighter mascots.
  • Colonel Ebirt (College of William and Mary) - That's "Tribe" spelled backwards!
  • Wally Wabash (Wabash College) - Nothing gets a team fired up more than an out-of-work painter.
  • Gorlok (Webster University) - The explanation is lamer than you think.
  • Penmen (Southern New Hampshire University) - Finally we can put this issue to rest...the sword is mightier.
  • Hardrockers (South Dakota School of Mines) - This name just barely beat out Rhyolite Raiders.
  • Ladies and Gents (Centenary College of Louisiana) - Intimidation with an emphasis on politeness.
  • Eutectic (St. Louis College of Pharmacy) - As if being a mad scientist gremlin wasn't enough, he also symbolizes a chemical process.


The Chuckman said...

How about the “Kiss My Hairy Beanbags!” The cougs need not your pity good sir. I’m all for passive Husky bashing (or active for that matter) but what’s with the collateral cougar damage?

You make a great point about the Huskies/Seattle thing. Was that decision made by the same east coast bias geniuses that think Seattle is the only city in Washington State with indoor plumbing?

For your consideration: The University of Washington Waterlogs (especially apt that it’s not even a word.) If it was a pro team I’d say the Seattle Self-Righteousness; which really captures the spirit of this town’s self entitled indigenous peoples.

Charles “More Cowgill” Liotta

Joel Pierce said...

I was going to make some sort of snarky Joey Harrington comment, but it looks like his career has yet another chance thanks to the good folks at PETA and the federal government.

As a proud Husky, I insist that the while Alaska might be a long way away, the Alaska gold rush created Seattle and thus a Husky seems a perfectly rational mascot. Still I think Sun Dodger will never be beat. Stupid image conscious people...