Our Mascot = Useless? (Please see the *)

Submitted by uniqenam on August 17th, 2009 at 2:28 PM
    So instead of writing some dithering diary about Tate Forcier ZOMG or RRod recruiting the Midwest or Pahookie Dookie Florida, I decided to unload something that has been on my mind for the past year:

Is our mascot useless*?

Being a student of U of M and being raised in a house where an entire bathroom was created into a shrine for all things maize and blue, I certainly know of the tradition of the Victors, "GO BLUE", and anything else possibly Michigan in character.  However, besides a cheap, furry, stuffed "wolverine" with an M on the front, I can't really say I identify anything about the wolverine creature with the great University of Michigan.  Is it possible we need to simply can the mascot, and be "Michigan"?

I must admit, one of the factors in my analysis is that, unlike many other (debatably) great sports schools, we really don't do anything with our mascot.  We don't have any hand signals (like the Gators or Longhorns), no prancing mascot on the sideline (thank God), or even a wolverine that shoots lasers out of its eyes!  With the exception of "the Claw" that we do on fourth down (and I rather liked the straight-up chop better), it seems as if anything related to the wolverine is missing from the University of Michigan.


* Please, at this point, consider my good health and your conscience as a fellow MGoBlogger before negging me into a bottomless pit where the minions of the emperor of space will feed on my soul.



August 17th, 2009 at 5:19 PM ^

haha, it's funny how that works. Write something stupid, get negative points. Beg people not to neg you, get even more negative points.

As other people have said, if you actually have to include a 'no-neg plea' at the end of your post, there's a good chance you're going to get negged.


August 17th, 2009 at 2:36 PM ^

Let me answer your question with one of my own.

Are mascots at any school actually useful?

Does Happy Valley become less rockin' without a lion in a scarf running around the sidelines? I don't think so. Also, I doubt Albert E. Gator contributed significantly to Florida's NC success.

I propose that all mascots are essentially useless. The main service that they provide is to give something to call your team in conversation.


August 17th, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

Despite being one of the greatest college mascots of all time, it is one of the most recognizable in college football. "The Wolverines" is embedded in Michigan tradition and is synonymous with the allure and success of the Michigan athletic tradition.

Why am I even responding to this?


August 18th, 2009 at 12:03 AM ^

I completely agree and this post upsets me. While I agree that we do not use the Wolverine to its fullest potential (on merchandise and in fandom), the Wolverine is and has been our mascot for a reason and it will never change. The fact that someone, let alone a Michigan fan, would even consider the possibility of "canning" the Wolverine is an embarrassment. This post should have never been written, let alone posted on the premiere college football blog in the nation.


August 17th, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

I have noticed that some fans at UM do some chopping motion with their arm. I find it appalling. What is the reason for this and what sane and right minded person finds this acceptable?


August 17th, 2009 at 2:53 PM ^

The "chop" was supplanted by the "claw" sometime around 2003 or 2004. I think the Daily actually helped to spearhead the effort, but I am not sure where the "claw" originated.

I do remember chopping during my first year as a student but clawing full-time by the end of year two. Either way, who cares? Now the students use it to shout "you suck!" at the opposing team, which is generally tremendous, unless said team is actually winning the game.

Does anyone else have a different recollection?

Wolverine In Exile

August 17th, 2009 at 2:58 PM ^

at Yost in the late 90's when there wasn't an appropriate "goalie / sieve" combo to go after right at that point. I also seem to remember Ron Dayne's last game in the Big House the student section doing both "claws" and "wolverine mouth" instead of chop. Reason I remember that was my roommate got pummeled with marshmallows for "chopping".


August 17th, 2009 at 4:34 PM ^

Please tell me that's not something like the alligator chomp that UF does.
Or that if it is like that, that it has died as well.

I lives in columbus and goes to schools in cincinnatter and havn't been to a game in years, but I don't remember seeing the student section doing a whole lot in the organized arm motion department. I think that all started after I left.


August 17th, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

That is mostly how I remember it getting started, although I graduated in 2003 and haven't been back in a while, so I've never actually seen the student section doing the claw outside a few groups in the middle of everyone doing the chop. But yes, the Daily ran graphics advocating changing the chop to the claw in the sports section frequently that year.


August 17th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

...finds it acceptable to not understand something before calling it appalling?

The chopping motion is synchronized after 3rd down defensive stops by Michigan to the song "Temptation." The chopping motion is the students trying to goad the opposition on 4th down to go for a 1st down.

When we stop the opposing team, the song is played again, because the "temptation" worked and Michigan now has the ball going in the opposite direction.

And of course, we should use the "Hawaiian War Chant" more often, because after all, you can't have one without the other...


August 17th, 2009 at 5:11 PM ^

Name me a team that does a chop like what the student section had been doing.

I can think of one. FSU.

People see that and think we're mimicking FSU. That's not good. Why would we want to look like FSU?

edit: jmblue below gives actual information on this chop and supports my idea (at least in my view) that it's some bastardization that should not be continued. It's not supposed to be a claw or a chop. It's supposed to be a closed fist, representing us putting the hammer down to our opponent. Unfortunately, lots of people failed to get the memo and turned it into an FSU-style chop.

People should be intimidated not because of some rip-off looking motion, but because they're in the largest sports stadium in the world with 100000+ people screaming at them, playing the winningest team in CFB history.


August 17th, 2009 at 5:38 PM ^

To be fair, jmblue and I both gave information, but neither of us could confirm our different origins. We need someone to get to the bottom of the story and clear it up for the entire fanbase, because clearly everyone is confused...

Essentially, just because FSU popularized the general motion, which you can call a chop or, as I learned, a first down motion to "tempt" or goad the other team to go for it, does not mean that we should change simply because another school does it.

If someone is able to create a better alternative, I'm all for it. Obviously that has not happened, as the Daily inspired "claw" is not much different from the original - when you are more than 30 feet away, it is hard to see any change.

Fan synchronization with the band and situational moments on the field can surely add to the intimidation of the largest stadium in the sport - the goal here should be maximizing the intimidation.


August 17th, 2009 at 7:40 PM ^

"the goal here should be maximizing the intimidation."

I agree. Maybe the Athletic Department should hand out plastic sniper rifles that we all point toward the opposing bench on third down while chanting something spooky in Latin. That would intimidate the hell out of me the first time I saw it.


August 17th, 2009 at 7:49 PM ^

To be fair, jmblue and I both gave information, but neither of us could confirm our different origins.

Actually, I CAN confirm it. I heard straight from the director of bands at the time it started that it was supposed to be a fist. The marching band tried to get students to do it that way, but it quickly morphed into a chop.

It has nothing to do with goading the opposition into going for it. In fact, when opponents do go for it on 4th down and get stopped, the band usually plays "Temptation" again.


August 17th, 2009 at 4:51 PM ^

I graduated in 1995 and started going to games at age 2.5 in 1974. I have no memory of the chop existing at any point prior to graduation.

My dad is class of 1964. He has no memory of it existing prior to the late 1990s.


August 17th, 2009 at 2:46 PM ^

I started typing "Uniqenam you ignorant slut" but just barely stopped.

Our mascot gets so many things right, here's a small helpful list:

1. It is unique. There aren't any other Wolverines in major colleges.
2. It actually has something to do with our state, the Wolverine State. It's not some generic "tiger" or "bulldog"
3. We don't have someone in a corked head running around, which is a good thing
4. A wolverine is a vicious animal with a mean streak, which is what you want in a mascot (you want a banana slug?)
5. It's my handle (enough said)

So I would counter that it's actually the BEST nickname in sports, or at least in the running.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 17th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

wolverine state? I didn't even thnk wolverines were native to Michigan.....I am being serious here, can someone verify that it is the Wolverine state? I am talking like officially and not something UM fans call it. I thought it was "the great lakes state"

I Miss Bursley

August 17th, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

Just came across this on the nets.

Some people believe that Ohioans gave Michigan the nickname “The Wolverine State” around 1835 during a dispute over the Toledo strip, a piece of land along the border between Ohio and Michigan. Rumors in Ohio at the time described Michiganians as being as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines. This dispute became known as the Toledo War.

Cmon now, why would you possibly want to get rid of a nickname borne from pure ohioan fear?

Blue in Yarmouth

August 18th, 2009 at 8:27 AM ^

for clearing that up for me. I am not native to Michigan (nor the USA) so the only name I am familiar with is the "Great Lakes State) but I am happy to know that "The Wolverine State" is a common nickname as well. It will be known as "The Wolverine State" in all future conversations that I have from now on. Thanks again!


August 17th, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

Yes, Michigan is called the Wolverine state. However, they aren't really native nowadays.

"Wolverines are, however, extremely rare in Michigan. A sighting in February 2004 near Ubly was the first confirmed sighting in Michigan in 200 years"



Sgt. Wolverine

August 17th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

Not only is it called the Wolverine State, but one of the reasons given for the nickname is hilarious, even if it may be only legend:

"Some people believe that Ohioans gave Michigan the nickname 'The Wolverine State' around 1835 during a dispute over the Toledo strip, a piece of land along the border between Ohio and Michigan. Rumors in Ohio at the time described Michiganians as being as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines."


EDIT: Oops -- Bursley beat me to it. Oh well. Two for emphasis.


August 17th, 2009 at 10:15 PM ^

It gets better. Ohio won the fight over the Toledo strip. In return, Michigan was given the UP. It seems like a good trade to me, even before iron and copper were discovered in the UP.


I pulled out my Michigan history text by Dunbar, and found an interesting footnote:

"Fielding H. Yost recounts his futile efforts to find any solid evidence of wolverines in Michigan in an article - 'The Wolverine,' Michigan History 27, 1943, pp. 581-89."


August 17th, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

I think if you post something that you are afraid is so stupid that you plead, not once, but twice (EDIT: 3 times)to not get negbanged for it, it probably is that stupid and you shoudn't post it.

Let me sum up you argument:

1. We don't have a hand signal.
2. We don't have a prancing mascot (which is good).
3. Oh wait, we do have a hand signal.

1+2+3 = We shouldn't have a mascot.

4. Other diaries filled with hours of research are boring, and I prefer something written while concussed that was put together in 2.57 minutes.

I hope you look up to Jenna Jameson, cuz you're about to get banged so, so hard.


August 17th, 2009 at 2:59 PM ^

Mostly because they began phasing out the chop my senior year, but also, I see people do the pathetic "clawing" motion and I can't help be be reminded of every other university and their cheesy animal hand motions. That and LOLcats.

I will alway do the chop.


August 17th, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

My sophomore year was the claw phase-in and I was steadfast in my choppiness--I had been chopping for 19 years as a born and raised Ann Arborite and Michigan fan after all. Then, once it caught on and you see all the limp-wristed, decidedly uninspired clawing I stuck firm. The chop, although not related to anything Michigan (except for cutting down the opposition, perhaps--I'm now genuinely curious as to its origins), is impossible to do weakly. Try it--right now. Can't make your arm go limp and weak with a chop, yet we invite claw foppery because it is more "Michigan". Please.


August 17th, 2009 at 4:52 PM ^

It's not supposed to be a claw or a chop. It's supposed to be a closed fist, representing us putting the hammer down to our opponent. Unfortunately, lots of people failed to get the memo and turned it into an FSU-style chop. Then the Daily further confused the issue by promoting a "claw." We need to go back to the fist.


August 17th, 2009 at 3:07 PM ^

It's a little known fact Wolverines are notorious car thieves, hence the "beloved" tradition of shaking your stolen keys at the game.


August 17th, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

OK - you're a student, it's near the end of summer vacation, and you obviously have way too much time on your hands. I don't think we're going to junk 100+ years of tradition because you can't tie in a cute cheer or crowd activity to a ferocious carnivore.

Suggest you consider the following from Wikipedia. "The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times its size."

Good luck in school this fall, hope your degree in Philosophy comes in handy.