Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summit League Logo Battle: Southern Utah

When it comes to The Summit League, we have some of the best nicknames in all of college sports. And what better way to embrace our team monikers than to take a look at their visual equivalences: the team logo. For all of our analyses, we used the primary logos for each team listed on the venerable website (Please note that any digs thrown at the schools are just for fun and do not necessarily represent our true feelings about them!)

The following entry in our Summit League Logo series is a guest post by Danny Malendowski. Danny was featured previously in our Student Section Chronicles for Oakland U as a Grizz Gang leader. He is a loyal Grizzly and, as we find out below, full of clever thoughts when it comes to logos in this conference!

Program: Southern Utah

Nickname: Thunderbirds

Origin of Nickname: The Thunderbird is to Southern Utah what the Grizzly is to Oakland, with Broncos being the original mascot of the former, as Pioneers was the initial mascot for the latter. Like most schools that have gone through a transition in the past 100 years, Southern Utah changed mascots when they made the transition to a four-year college. A thunderbird is a Native American deity, and the logo as we know it now was designed by a student in 2001. Furthermore, their mascot is named Thor, which apart from being awesome, should certainly be incorporated in the official “Extreme Golden Grizzlies Gameplan Logo Makeover.” (h/t: The Summit League)

Philosophical Take: The Thunderbird nickname may be fitting for Southern Utah, if only for the reason that someone has the same reaction upon hearing their mascot as one does when they hear the fact that Southern Utah plays in a league with teams from the Rust Belt and the Badlands: *insert statement of incredulity here*. However, I feel that the name Thunderbirds (or at least the logo design) is fitting for this school, and not simply because the name combines two things native to the heavens, through which every Summit school must traverse in order to play this geographically-secluded conference opponent. Upon first glance at the logo I noticed the bottom lightning bolt looks very similar to the logo of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and although I guess lightning is a rather uniform thing to draw, making comparisons between the Cedar City cagers and the oddly located hockey team is not fruitless:
  • Both have languished in terms of fan support and attendance in their respective conferences.
  • Both are second fiddle in their towns; the Lightning to the NFL's Buccaneers, and the SUU T-Birds (rather pathetically) to the school's football team. Remember, the football team plays in the pointless storied Great West Football conference. They use the term “great” quite liberally.
  • Both are participating in sports which do not fit their geography (hockey in Florida and basketball in Utah).
  • Finally, both have had one good year (Lightning in 2003-04 and SUU in 2000-01).
Final Judgment: Although overused in the realm of sports, the black and red adds an intimidation factor to an otherwise uninspired logo design. If you look closely, it appears as if the bird is running into a clear plate of glass (look at the beak up close). The amalgamation of the Lightning on the bottom and the bird on top makes the logo seem disorganized overall. We need some direction in this.

How We'd Fix It: I believe just about everybody (Roger Reid included) would agree that the SUU program needs a boost right now. The NHL equivalent of the T-Birds (the Tampa Bay Lightning) also felt like they needed a boost back in 2008. This is when they created an alternate uniform, featuring the moniker "the Bolts." Short. Sweet. To the point. This is what I propose for Southern Utah. The name of the Thunderbird mascot which prowls (or in recent times sulks) the sidelines of basketball games is Thor. There is no one, perhaps outside of Chuck Norris, who doesn't think the name Thor is sweet and intimidating: the two things which a mascot should be. It would also be a much better mascot than a demonic (or blind) eagle which is defecating lightning. I would propose the Marvel comic version of Thor, as opposed to the mythological figure. I mean come on, anything created by Stan Lee is automatically awesome. It is because of this awesomeness that I would change the name of the squad from the Thunderbirds to The Thor, a la the Stanford Cardinal. This promotes the change, unity, and toughness which Southern Utah will require in order to rise like a Thunderbird from the doldrums of the Summit League. Did I mention the logo will be designed by Stan Lee?

Rough Artist's Rendering:

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