It all started in 1857 with a satirical drawing depicting Minnesota politicians as rodents following the introductions of legislature created to build railroads in Minnesota. Now I will not bore you with the story about the “Five Million Loan” bill, but is seems like a weird reason to call your state the Gopher State.
Others think the name came to be because of gophers that chew farm crops.
While several Minnesota sports teams were referred to as gophers in local newspapers dating back to 1901, football coach Clarence “Biggie” Spears appears to have been given credit for Minnesota sports teams taking on the gopher name, as he called the football team the Gophers in 1926.
Eight years later, famous journalist Hasley Hall coined the team the Golden Gophers after Bernie Bierman. Bierman was a legendary Minnesota coach who changed the team’s jerseys to match the color of a football—gold.
In 1940, George Grooms was hired to draw an official mascot, and Goldy Gopher was born.
However, he did not get the official name of Goldy until 1979 after a redesign.
Goldy received yet another redesign in 1984 when Lou Holtz became the teams coach. Groldy took on a more buff physique in the drawing, but the drawing only stuck for one year. The university then tweaked the design a bit, giving him a more friendly design.
Gopher or Ground Squirrel?
Back in 1940, Grooms, an Iowa resident, was hired to draw the school’s mascot, but he didn’t even know what a gopher looked like. His inspiration for the drawing came when he and his wife were stopped at a Minnesota rest stop and a small creature ran past his wife.
They fed the animal and Grooms sketched it.
The sketch was that of a rodent, with buck teeth, big ears, a bushy tail and stripes.
However, what Grooms did not realize is that he did not model the mascot after the native pocket gopher, but instead a chipmunk.
Goes to show, you can never trust someone from Iowa.
This explains the stripes, as gophers do not have stripes, but ground squirrels and chipmunks do! This means that Minnesota has been living a lie since 1940.
You’ll even notice that Goldy has stripes down his tail to this day, meaning he is no gopher, he is a ground squirrel.
We weren’t lion about @GopherFootball! #RTB #SkiUMah pic.twitter.com/nfQNIVyfYy— Goldy Gopher (@GoldytheGopher) November 9, 2019
His official bio even says that he is a “family member to every University of Minnesota student, staff, and faculty past or present.”
Gophers mostly live alone, while ground squirrels live in family groups. If Goldy was really a gopher, he would be a loner and not want to have such a large family…
Previous versions of Goldy were quite terrifying.
The old goldy gopher mascot costume scared children: pic.twitter.com/Vgqiir11fl— altobot (@TheRealAltoBot) March 22, 2019
It looks like they were taking a break from the furry convention to cheer on a college football team.
Goldy is an anthropomorphized ground squirrel that stands 5-foot-13-inches, which isn’t even a thing.
He typically will wear a matching uniform of the team he is cheering on, featuring either the number 0, or 00 on the jersey.
Goldy wears pants, unlike Bucky Badger, which his bio points out. But—have you ever paid attention to who doesn’t wear pants? Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Paddington.
Seems like a pretty legit list.
One of Goldy’s main tricks is, “Spin Your Head.” Which is where he, well... you guessed it, spins his head.
In 2017, Goldy did just that, to celebrate absolutely destroying a child...
Goldy Gopher trucks child, celebrates horrifyingly: https://t.co/bIqliv1jEp pic.twitter.com/X37Y0Ghp1N— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 25, 2017
Yeah, he’s a monster.
Much like how Goldy’s gopher-ness is wrong, the school’s slogan of Ski-U-Mah appears to be wrong as well…
In 1884 John Adams, the school’s rugby captain had heard some Sioux tribe members yell “Ski-yoo!” when they won canoe races on Lake Minnetonka and he incorrectly interpreted the phrase to a Sioux victory cry.
A co-captain of the rugby team added the ‘mah,’ to the chant, which has been used to cheer on Minnesota athletics ever since and has even been included in some University songs.
However, Dakota-Lakota specialists say that “Ski-U,” is not a victory cry, or a Sioux word for winning. In fact what he may have heard on the lake that day was an audible interjection, similar to “woo hoo.”
One could surmise that Minnesota’s battle cry is basically that of a “woo girl.”
Let’s get social
With Axe week upon us, our beloved Bucky Badgers and Goldy Ground Squirrel have been in their usual twitter feud leading up to this weekend’s tilt.
Per usual, Goldy’s burns are less than impressive…
Live look at @UWBuckyBadger getting prepared for #AxeWeek. #MakeSureToDoubleKnot pic.twitter.com/uptqoVQYxm— Goldy Gopher (@GoldytheGopher) November 24, 2019
I mean, I would take that as a compliment, he is saying that Bucky has rather large feet, and we all know that that means…
*editors note, this is a family site* (Editor’s note: I didn’t write that, but it is true.)
Bucky uses Comic Sans for every assignment #AxeWeek #Unprofessional pic.twitter.com/7CEgKOns7s— Goldy Gopher (@GoldytheGopher) November 26, 2019
Comic Sans is a staple among the font offerings in Microsoft word and should be used way more. (Editor’s note: it’s also an accessible typeface for the roughly 10% of the population with dyslexia. Goldy is ableist.)
.@UWBuckyBadger holds his drinks like this. #SomePeopleWantToWatchTheWorldBurn #AxeWeek pic.twitter.com/o20NhvtPsI— Goldy Gopher (@GoldytheGopher) November 24, 2019
Who hasn’t held their drinks like this before? I know I do.
Instead of helping old ladies across the street, @UWBuckyBadger races them. #HeStillLosesTheRace #AxeWeek pic.twitter.com/5LqogLVUP8— Goldy Gopher (@GoldytheGopher) November 25, 2019
Bucky IS helping them by racing them and then allowing them to win—to make them feel better about themselves. It’s a selfless act. Something Goldy knows nothing of. Not to mention, not all old ladies are frail and helpless people.
They can walk across the street just fine on their own, you ageist ground squirrel.
And most recently, Goldy suggested that Bucky is not a fan of baby Yoda... I mean, that is the jedi version of blasphemy.
If you want to check out the entire thread, start with the clown feet tweet.
Since I don't have a mascot to battle with for #RivalryWeek I may have helped @UWBuckyBadger with a skit last Saturday! Still love you @GoldytheGopher! #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/nOap95QYST— Purdue Pete (@PurduePete) November 26, 2019
While Purdue Pete gives me the willies, it’s nice to see him helping out Bucky by preparing a lovely pre-Thanksgiving Day meal.
All things considered—the fact that he isn’t actually a gopher, their battle cry is a woo girl’s woo, he picks on little kids and his social media burns are less than effective—I guess he isn’t that bad.
Just kidding, he’s the worst.
Mascot Suck Index
|Suck Ranking||University||Mascot||Mascot Suck Index|
|Suck Ranking||University||Mascot||Mascot Suck Index|
|1||University of Minnesota||Goldy Gopher||100|
|2||Ohio State University||Brutus||94|
|3||Purdue University||Purdue Pete||92|
|4||Kent State University||Flash the Golden Eagle||90|
|5||University of Illinois||Chief Illiniwek||89|
|6||University of Nebraska||Herbie Husker & Lil' Red||86|
|7||University of Iowa||Herkey The Hawk||85|
|8||Michigan State University||Sparty||63|
|9||Northwestern University||Willy the Wildcat||62|
|10||University of Michigan||N/A||60|
|10||Central Michigan University||N/A||60|
|10||University of Southern Florida||Rocky the Bull||60|
|13||Purdue University||The Boilermaker Special||10|
|14||University of Wisconsin - Madison||Buckingham U. Badger||0|