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Why your mascot sucks: University of Maryland

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Keep the ooze away from Testudo, Shredder... I mean, Maryland.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Northwestern vs Maryland Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Well... not this one...

Origins

Maryland’s mascot was introduced back in 1932, when football coach Dr. H. Curley Byrd recommended the Diamondback Terrapin, become the mascot.

Prior to the suggestion, Maryland athletic teams were known as the Old Liners.

What?

Byrd made his suggestion to the school, when the school newspaper, The Diamondback, posted about the search for a new official mascot.

Driving the desire for the suggestion, was the fact that the Maryland state reptile is the Diamondback Terrapin.

Byrd hailed from Cristfield, Maryland, which was famous for its terrapins.

Ralph I. Williams, who was the President of the Student Government Association (SGA) for the class, suggested that the class of 1933 give a bronze statue of the school’s new mascot as their graduation gift to the school.

The graduating class went to great lengths to raise the money for the statue - graduating classes at Maryland normally held their Senior Proms at the Washington Hotel, which was quite the expensive endeavor, but the class of 1933 held its prom on campus. Additional funds came from the student yearbook, The Reveille, which was renamed The Terrapin, just two years later.

Once the class came up with the funds to the statue, the SGA footed the bill for its base.

Byrd reached out to a former quarterback at Maryland, Edwin C. Mayo, who was the President of Graham Manufacturing. Mayo agreed to produce the statue for the school, at cost. The sculptor used a live Diamondback as a guide for the piece, which was provided by Williams.

On June 2, 1933, the statue of Testudo was unveiled to the world, with some help from a hero in a halfshell... the actual turtle used as a guide, had ribbon tied to his shell, which in turn was attached to canvas, which covered up the sculpture. As the turtle slowly.... moved.... forward... the... canvas... slowly... shuffled... off...

What’s in a name?

The origin of the Diamondback terrapin and Maryland is well known, but the reason for the name Testudo, is unclear.

Testudines, which is the scientific classification for turtles, is one of the leading theories, for the name. Another possibility is that ‘Testudo,’ is part of the name of a species of turtle, native to Africa, the testudo gigantica.

The final theory is that ‘Testudo,’ comes from the Latin word for protective shelter, which was used to protect Roman soldiers heads, much like that of a shell.

Mo Statues, Mo Problems

The inclusion of a statue to campus, usually comes with some drawbacks... Maryland found this out the hard way, when a number of crimes befell the mascot.

Testudo was painted, its pedestal was defaced, and the sculpture was even kidnapped.

Johns Hopkins students stole the turtle in 1947, resulting in many Maryland students rushing to Baltimore to start something with its captors.

However, their desire to riot and get revenge, quickly turned into a party.

Testudo went missing again two years later, when a fraternity at the University of Virginia called the school and asked that statue be removed from its lawn.

C’mon Maryland... maybe keeping an eye on your statue, should fall under the same category as crab cakes and football.

Maryland wised up and finally took action to keep its turtle safe, by hiding it in a shed on campus, which is one way to do things.

Later Testudo was filled with 700 pounds of cement and was attached to its new perch outside of Byrd Stadium with long steel rods and hooks.

The statue was then moved in 1965, when students carried the 1,000 pound sculpture to its new home, overlooking McKedlin Mall, which was outside of McKeldin Library, which opened in 1958.

The statue was rededicated and restored in 1983 and a bronze twin was placed outside of the football complex in 1992.

Testudo has stayed in place on Maryland’s campus and has served as a good luck charm, for years.

Passerbys rub Testudo’s nose for good luck

Appearance

Well, you guessed it, Testudo the Turtle, is an anthropomorphic turtle.

He is a lovable turtle, whose shell, has a Maryland, ‘M,’ in case you forget who he is the mascot for. The costume is designed for function as well, with a loose-fitting shell, that does not hinder movement. Well played Maryland, well played.

I also appreciate the details in the beak, making it spotted.

And as you can tell he has come a long long way, in his evolution.

WE MUST PROTECT THIS TERRARIUM

In 2014, Maryland pulled a Shedder and used the ooze to unleash a new and impro... I mean, turtley terrifying version of Testudo, which left onlookers, shellshocked.

The new version of Testudo appeared in a 2014 hype video, which played as a stadium intro for the football team.

While turtles are normally docile creatures, there is nothing docile about this oozed-up Testudo, as he seriously looks like he is ready to kill everyone and everything in its path.

Huge muscles and razor-sharp teeth and who can forgetting the over-commercializing of the Under Armour logo.

The plush Testudo should remain the only Testudo. While I get what they were trying to do, in making him a more imposing figure in the hype video, all it was, was nightmare fodder.