Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summit League Logo Battle: Western Illinois

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 SportsLogos.net. (Please note that any digs thrown at the schools are just for fun and do not necessarily represent our true feelings about them!)

Program: Western Illinois

Nickname: Leathernecks

Origin of Nickname: Derived from the U.S. Marine Corps, where legendary WIU football coach Ray "Rock" Hanson obtained hero status as well as the Marine ethic used to build the football program. The bulldog is also a nod to the Marine Corps, which features an English bulldog as its mascot. (h/t: The Summit League)

Philosophical Take: While the football tradition at Western Illinois may suggest something else, this is a basketball website. Therefore, it's only fitting that this logo prominently features purple and yellow in honor of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. For this basketball program, these colors symbolize the hues of one of the most storied franchises in the sport in an effort to give the players the feeling of legitimacy. After all, when the ballers are so accustomed to losing and losing and losing, the fact they get to wear purple and yellow makes their four-years in Macomb, Illinois a bit more bearable. The bulldog here is visibly angry, most likely due to having to be associated with Western Illinois.

Final Judgment: There are better-looking bulldogs out there, though this one does a decent job of telling the onlooker, "Our mascot is a bulldog, and he's angry." Similarly, the lettering is fine, and I do like how "Western" pops out more than "Illinois." Too often directional schools weaken their cardinal indicators, despite the fact there should be a certain amount of pride in representing that particular area of their state. Overall, this logo is passable, suffering mostly from a lack of anything that gives Western Illinois a true identity of its own.

How We'd Fix It: This logo calls for a total redesign. Because Western Illinois has been in Division I for a very long time, the university couldn't really use reclassification as an excuse to revamp its identity. Instead, they'll just have to use decades worth of basketball futility as the primary driver of change. In order to somewhat please proud alumni, they'll use a variation on the current nickname, changing "necks" to "men" to form Leathermen. This has been done in order to align the program with bikers. Guys who ride motorcycles often ride in groups, or gangs, and most often represent togetherness, toughness, and speed. All of these components also fit well with a basketball program, especially one competing in The Summit League. Additionally, the new nickname could help bring more people to Western Hall for games during biker-theme nights. Anyone who has driven extensively knows that bikers will hit the road to collectively support a cause as much as any other group of people; therefore, biker nights at WIU would surely pack seats, something the program desperately needs to do in order to give the team a cheerful audience to play for.

A Rough Sketch-Up:
See our other Summit League Logo posts thus far: Centenary College, IUPUI, Southern Utah, UMKC, and North Dakota State.

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