While Indiana does not currently have a mascot that does not mean that they have not run through the gambit of mascots in the school’s storied history.
In the early 1900s, the school tried out an owl, a raccoon and even went a dangerous route, by having an unhinged live mascot, much like many schools did back during that time and just like all of the other schools, this one failed as well. And no, I am not talking about a wild animal; I’m talking about a toddler.
The toddler was the son of a former athletic trainer at the school.
Now, I myself have a toddler and they are pretty entertaining, but sometimes I think I would be more comfortable hanging out with a wild animal than a toddler.
The school followed up its toddler experiment, with a bald eagle and then a goat, which was thought of by the class of 1923.
Who has the time and financial means to try out this many mascots?
Next, the school tried a bulldog and then a border collie.
Finally, a light at the end of the mascot-less tunnel – in 1965 a unanimous decision was made by the student senate to have a bison, which is on the Indiana state seal, as the school mascot. The idea then was to have a live bison run around the field during football games.
Ever heard of the University of Colorado?
How the hell do they keep up with that thing? I’m tired just watching it.
However, the state said “bye, son,” to that idea as the cost was too great to acquire a live bison…but the cost of running through all those previous mascots was minimal?
So the school went with Plan B, which was to construct a costume, but they did not receive rave reviews… the first mascot lacked holes for arms and did not include hind legs, but that did not stop the school from using it…for four years.
FOUR YEARS. They used a bison tube for four years.
In 1969, the school reached out to none other than Walt Disney for help, but Disney was too busy to help construct a bison costume. However, he did recommend that the school reach out to a firm in Los Angeles, who created the second version of the bison.
This time around, there were more problems as people tasked with wearing the costume had a hard time breathing and a hard time seeing. You know, two of the big things people need to do.
The school then decided to scrap the idea and ten years later, came up with another option, which was called Mr Hoosier Pride. However, the mascot’s run was short-lived as many students were not fans of the newest creation.
“Mr. Hoosier Pride is the most asinine and ridiculous-looking character anyone could have ever dreamed up to be IU’s mascot,” IU student Ben Blair said in a 1979 IDS letter to the editor.
However, I agree with him, that thing is garbage. The bison tube, or the bison that hindered sight and the breathing capability of the wearer, would have been a huge upgrade.
What is a Hoosier?
Residents of the
great state of Indiana have been referred to as Hoosiers for many many years. In fact, since about a decade after Indiana joined the Union (Dec. 11, 1816), when newspapers began to refer to its residents as “Hoosiers.”
Hoosiers appears in print, as early as 1832 and was even featured in a poem, “The Hoosier’s Nest,” which was written by John Finley.
It appeared as though the term was first used not as a term of endearment, but used mockingly, until Indiana residents, leaned into the metaphorical skid and adopted the term with pride.
However, regardless of the term’s popularity and usage its origins are unclear, but there are several theories…
1. Contractor Samuel Hoosier, who was tasked with hiring workers to build the Louisville and Portland Canal along the Ohio River in the 1820s, preferred to hire laborers from Indiana, instead of people from Kentucky. The workers were supposedly referred to as “Hoosier’s men,” and later, just “Hoosiers.” No record of anyone by the name of Hoosier is found in the canal records, though.
2. An article in the Pittsburgh Statesman, in 1833 gave an alternate origin story though, that the words came from surveyors mapping the state. Apparently, the surveyors would yell out, “who’s here?” when they spotted cabins. The simple question was said so much across the state that it was quickly shortened to “hooshere,” and then finally “hoosier.”
3. Jacob Piatt Dunn Jr wrote a book called, “The Word Hoosier,” in 1907. In the book, he noted that many immigrants from the Cumberland region of England came to the US, and eventually settled in the southern mountains of Indiana. Dunn traced “Hoosier,” back to the word “hoozer,” which in Cumbrian dialect came from the Old English word, “hoo,” which meant “high” and “hill.”
And here I thought they were named after the Gene Hackman movie...
Whichever origin story you prefer, whether it’s Hoosier’s men, surveyors, the English, or an alternate one from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think we can all agree that Hoosier, sounds better than “Indianian,” or “Indianinite.”
Usually when I think about possible mascots, I look to the given state’s official animal, but in this case, Indiana does not have one. However, they do have an official bird, which is the Cardinal.
I think we can all admit that the Cardinal is overused in sports, so I think I have to agree with our friends at The Crimson Quarry, and ask Indiana to reinstate the Bison.
I mean, I don’t really understand it, but it’s been popular and it’s way better than a nut and a ground squirrel.
I know it’s been done elsewhere in sports, like North Dakota State and the University of Colorado and even the Oklahoma City Thunder’s mascot is a bison.
And why not go all in and bring in a live mascot. Their football team already shits on the field, why not a live bison?
There is no way the state could say they can’t afford it now and if the state has a problem, I’m sure the University’s athletics budget would allow for it.
Not to mention, Indiana has a booming bison population. In 2016, 23 American Bison were from to Kankakee Sands preserve in Northwest Indiana, from South Dakota in an effort to help maintain the natural habitat.
A year later, the herd nearly doubled in size.
The bison gave birth to 10 calves in 2017 and 10 additional bison were brought from South Dakota to join the herd.
Not to mention, even if Indiana is unable to procure a live buffalo, mascot costumes are way better constructed than when they last had a bison costume made in the 1960s.
I mean look at these.
The OKC Thunder’s mascot looks amazingly detailed, but I also feel like that face will haunt my dreams.
Maybe don’t make it too much like that one…
Regardless of whether or not Indiana goes with the bison, or something else, they need a mascot. As one of only three teams in the B1G, it’s embarrassing.
They could just refer to every team as the Indiana Basketball Team, because everyone knows that’s the only team of theirs that is relevant...then again, they’re No. 10 in the B1G, so maybe not.