In 2004, Nicholls State University retired its old “Colonel Tillou” mascot after complaints that the bearded Southern soldier - modeled after the school’s founder, former Louisiana governor and Confederate officer Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls - was an ugly reminder of slavery and racism.
(Offensive Nicholls State Mascots now and then)
So after five years of research, design & focus groups and at least $30,000 in expenses, the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE says that Nicholls State has finally unveiled the new design for the mascot and logo. And many alumni and fans of the Colonels sports program say that it’s a huge change: instead of a troubling image of Southern oppression representing the school, it’s now a troubling image of fascism and totalitarian oppression. See, that’s completely different!
Looking at the new mascot, with its dark gray uniform, menacing sword and military hat, it’s kind of hard to argue that there’s something martial about it. Instead of supporting a program, it seems to be supporting a pogrom. Ba-dump-bah! I’ll be here all week, folks.
But NSU’s PR person Renee Piper said the school is firmly behind the new logo. Unless people don’t buy merchandise emblazoned with what some are calling “Nick the Nazi”:
“Consider how challenging it is to create a mascot that would please multiple generations of Nicholls alums,” Piper said. “There was never a prayer that everyone would love it.”
While the university is not planning to rescind the design, Piper said it could fade away within a couple of years if no one buys the merchandise.
“But the market will do that,” she said. “It’s not our job to undo all the work of the focus group. This logo is what was voted on in a very inclusive and open process.”
Somehow when I see that logo, “open” isn’t what I think. “Repressive” and “crushing” come more easily to mind. Still, some people are OK with the new mascot, with a blogger at AMERICAN PRESS reminding readers that the original Col. Nicholls was pretty tough in his own right:
F.T. Nicholls, for whom the school was named, was twice elected governor of Louisiana. He lost an arm and a leg in the battle of Shiloh, and when he later ran for office, his slogan was “Vote for the rest of me.”
Which, come to think of it, might be the solution to this problem. Want to symbolize just how fierce Col. Nicholls was? Change your mascot to his missing arm and leg - one for each. While the kids might be a little scared of having bloody, dismembered limbs on the sidelines, I think the intimidation factor would more than make up for it.