clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Why your mascot sucks: University of Michigan

New, 8 comments

Hike up your Lululemon’s and tell the art department to build a Wolverine costume...

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I mean, seriously? What is wrong with schools in the state of Michigan? Why is it so difficult to have a mascot? Look at all the states surrounding them. This is getting ridiculous. Michigan, I expect more from you in the future.

Origins

Michigan is the Wolverine State; however, it is unclear on if this was the choice of proud Michiganders.

In 1803, Michigan and Ohio entered into a dispute over the border that separates them, this dispute was known later as the “Toledo War.” As the two states fought over their border, Michiganders started to be referred to as wolverines.

It is unclear whether or not those from Michigan referred to themselves as such. It is possible Ohioans called them that due to their gluttonous and aggressive habits, which are similar to that of a wolverine.

When the University of Michigan was founded, it took on the name as its nickname.

However, there isn’t much on the history books as far as wolverines being native to the state in which they represent. One verified sighting occurred in 2004, near Ubly, MI, which was the first confirmed sighting in 200 years. Sadly, the animal was found dead in 2010.

Oddly enough, Michigan finished 7-6, (3-5) that season and Wisconsin went on to win the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game.

Early mascots

Inspired by the University of Wisconsin, who had live Badgers on the field during games, Michigan began the search for a mascot in 1923.

In 1924, Michigan’s original mascot was Biff, a mounted and stuffed Wolverine. Because who doesn’t love posing with a dead animal while sporting your favorite school’s colors?

Biff the stuffed wolverine had about as much chance of getting the crowd pumped as Michigan now has of making the Big Ten Championship game.

Luckily, three years later, the Detroit Zoo acquired 10 wolverines from Alaska.

Then athletic director and football coach Fielding H. Yost struck a deal with the zoo to have two wolverines featured on the sidelines for Michigan home games. The two wolverines were named Biff and Bennie.

However, like Wisconsin’s practice of carrying a vicious wild animal on the sidelines, Biff and Bennie’s stay did not last long, as Yost did not account for the rapid growth and ferociousness of the growing wolverines.

Some intrigue revolves around what happened to the ousted carnivores though. Some reports say that their inclusion in gameday only lasted a year and, at that point, Biff was put in a cage at the University of Michigan Zoo. Yost wanted students to be able to visit Biff and be inspired by him.

However, the Bentley Historical Library says that the two live wolverines were brought to the stadium for “a number of years.” It also states that Biff and Bennie lived in a small zoo near the Natural History Museum, but were eventually moved back to the Detroit Zoo, because they became too vicious to remain on campus.

Life after Biff and Bennie

Michigan also had a pair of dogs named Whiskey and Brandy perform at halftime, which became its unofficial mascots in the 1960s and 1970s.

Later in the 1980s, some students started a petition for a new mascot, named Willy the Wolverine. Willy, who stood nearly seven feet would come to games, but he was eventually banned from the Big House because he blocked the view of fans.

This was clearly an idea that Utah Valley University had no problem running with and perfecting…

And I have to admit, it’s a pretty bad ass mascot.

OH MY GOD! PUT THE HEAD BACK ON! PUT THE HEAD BACK ON!

Present-day

However, in 2011 Michigan Athletic Director, Dave Brandon (never trust a man with two first names, kids…) said that the school was interested in possibly having a mascot.

”I’m struck by the fact that when opposing teams come to our stadium, and they bring a mascot, all of our young fans are lined up to see if they can get a picture taken with it, whether it’s the Penn State Nittany Lion or Sparty,” Brandon said. “That’s a little annoying to me. You can’t get your picture taken with a Block M. Mascots are really embraced by the youth demographic, and we want to take advantage of that, for all the reasons that are obvious . . . We’re interested in doing a mascot but it has to be something that fans love, that children love and everyone can embrace.”

I think children would love anything more than a dead, stuffed wolverine.

Needless to say, it is now 2019, so clearly that was a very slight possibly.

If Ohio State can make a mascot out of a nut, Michigan certainly can with a Wolverine. It could even follow the blue-print it set forth in the 1920s and have a mascot similar to Bucky.

It would pale in comparison to Bucky, but it would be a mascot, nonetheless.

While Michigan does not have a mascot, what they do have is a Jim Harbaugh—the famed NFL Coach, turned basic bitch.

Harbaugh was known to wear ill-fitting, boxy khakis WITH pleats, during his days in the NFL and early on at Michigan. Word is his wife got so sick of them and threw them away…

IT’S CALLED FASHION, KAREN, LOOK IT UP!

Harbaugh then bought himself another pair of $8 khakis from Walmart, while on the road.

However, in 2017, Harbaugh took a page out of the playbook of the co-eds in Ann Arbor, who literally can’t even with drab garbs, and started wearing Lululemon khakis.

Ermahgerd…

Harbaugh went from paying $8 to $128 for pants… I guess when you got the money.

Personally, I will stick with my Dockers.

However comfortable the Lululemon’s may be, Harbaugh hasn’t won a bowl game while switching to the athleisure wear. However, Michigan did come close to appearing in the Big Ten Championship Game last season and finished tied with Ohio State. OSU went to the championship game after winning the head-to-head match-up with Michigan.

If Michigan doesn’t want to have a mascot roaming the sideline that is as bad ass of an animal as a wolverine, they might as well lean into the comfort, the ABC (Anti-Ball Crushing) design, that Lululemon offers and introduce a new mascot...

GO FIGHTING LULULEMONS!