Monday, June 20, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michigan should steer clear of a mascot debacle
anny Bleigh isthe only man
inthe world who knows the
During a Sept. 17, 1988 matchup
against Miami, Willy the Wolverine
stepped onto the
turf at Michi-
gan Stadium in
front of 105,834
strutted up and
down the Michi-
gan sideline for
a few minutes
and got his mug STEPHEN J.
on national tele- NESBITT
ing the only
costumed mascot ever to represent
Michigan at the Big House.
Three weeks later, there were
security guards at every gate tasked
with keeping Willy out of the sta-
dium. And only one man truly
understands. Bleigh was Willy the
Wolverine that day.
Thisweek, Athletic Director Dave
Brandon opened a can of worms that
was kept firmly sealed for the past
two decades - and one that was
largely forgotten in the 194 years at
the University of Michigan.
In an interview with Michigan
Today, Brandon said that, given the
right conditions, he would reopen
the discussion on Michigan having
"I'm struck by the fact that when
opposing teams come to our sta-
dium, 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 told Michi-
gan Today. "That's a little annoying
Brandon's answer certainly
has Michigan fans up in arms, but
this isn't the first time the Athletic
Department has considered adding
a mascotto headlinesporting events.
In 1927, then-head football coach
Fielding H. Yost brought a pair of live
wolverines to patrol the sideline. But
Biff and Bennie proved too danger-
ous and were given the pink slip.
So Michigan became the one
school that prided itself in being rep-
resented by its tradition and history
rather than a visible, cuddly mascot.
The fact of not having a mascot has
become a tradition of its own.
Butinthe late 1980s, a pair ofUni-
give Michigan its first-ever mascot:
Willy the Wolverine. Willy was the
brainchild of Adam Blumenkranz
and David Kaufman, who created
the furry, nine-foot beast and their
store, Willy's, at the corner of Lib-
erty and State.
Willy made his debut at the
Miami game, but his time in the
spotlight was cut short when the
Spartans came to town - along with
the security guards.
"I tell you, everyone who's met
Willy loves him," Bleigh, the one-day
Willy, told The Michigan Daily. "I
put on the costume and step outside
and cars come to a screeching halt.
"The cheerleaders want a mascot,
the fans want a mascot, the students
want a mascot. The time is now."
But the time wasn't "now." And it
still isn't. Then-Daily sports editor
and current NFL Network analyst
Rich Eisen said it right.
"Picture it," Eisen wrote. "A Wol-
verine running all over the place to
lead the crowd in cheers.
"In Michigan Stadium, for crying
out loud. Where Bo works. Just say
no to Willy."
Even Bo himself had some
thoughts on Willy. After a 1989
matchup with Michigan State,
Schembechler sidledup to agroup of
reporters and gave his opinion.
"I've got a wolverine skin - it
looks like a big skunk, but don't put
that down, boys," he said with a
Willy the Wolverine was only able to make one appearance as Michigan's mascot.
laugh. to be something that fans love, that
Michigan fans don't want a big children love and everyone can
skunk on the sideline. It just doesn't embrace."
seem right. Now, Brandon hasn't On Friday evening, Brandon took
sold Michigan's collective soul to to Twitter, where he likely found his
a mascot just yet. It's not Willy this strongest opposition, to clarify his
time, it's just a thought. Brandon's stance.
words ring loud and clear - the door "@DaveBrandonAD: Sorry to
is now opened, at least a crack, for a disappoint anyone getting worked
major change on campus. up about a mascot - nothing in
Twenty years ago, then-Senior the works! Gave honest answer to
Associate Athletic Director Jack reporter - we consider lots of ideas!"
Weidenbach said, "The issue is we Smart move. Michigan fans
have decided that we really don't would make a bigger stink than Bo's
need a mascot to start off with." bigskunk.
Compare those comments to
these from Brandon: "We're inter-
ested in dofng a mascot but it has
- Nesbitt can be reached at
Piccolo 6 etGL rv4ett10-/ (4.
Michigan Marching Band
Open Auditions During Orientation
Auditions start at 3:00 PM
Required music audition will be held at Revelli
Hall on the final day of your Orientation Session.
Audition will consist of:
- one chromatic scale two octaves
to demonstrate range
" one minute of prepared music
solo or etudes that have contrasting style .
(demonstrate beauty of tone, phrasing & musicality,
and technical ability)