Because no one loves a good mascot costume controversy as much as I, I will bring you the tale of the new James Madison Duke Dog, which has roiled the campus, sparked online protest and ultimately led to a change of heart from university officials.
I confess to not entirely understanding the infatuation many JMU alums have for their canine mascot, but it’s there, and it’s passionate. So when a new mascot emerged last Saturday (see above, via here), the response was fierce.
“He does look different,” AD Jeff Bourne said. “He is a Duke Dog, no doubt. But he does have a little different cast to him.”
Fans didn’t like the cast. A few selections from Twitter:
* new duke dog looks like he is in a state of permanent climax (steveBURKYburke)
* I love this game but I hate the new duke dog! He looks like a cat! (dherring89)
* Anybody else thinks that the new duke dog mascot looks a little like chuck-e-cheese? (kenzie_fisher)
* New Duke Dog mascot looks like a chipmunk on acid (jetayloe)
* The new duke dog mascot looks like a bear. (I_B_Rad)
* The new one didn’t even look like a dog. It looked like the bastard child of Teddy Ruxpin and one of the sluttier Care Bears. (JMU Sports Blog)
These weren’t isolated voices; a “Bring Back the Old Duke Dog” Facebook page quickly attracted more than a thousand members, and a strongly worded online petition got more than 700 signatures. The message:
We, the undersigned, do hereby request that the 2011 Duke Dog mascot costume of James Madison University(JMU) never be used again at any JMU sporting event or event representing the JMU Community. Furthermore, we request the reinstatement of the 2004 Duke Dog Mascot costume design.
Normally, such stuff is like flinging mascot fur into the wind, but the JMU administrators listened, and they got the message. And so within the last 24 hours, a message went up on Facebook, telling the people that the chipmunk on acid would be put out of its misery:
Fellow Members of the JMU Nation -
We have received a great deal of feedback regarding the new Duke Dog costume. Unfortunately, we realize that we missed the mark. As such, we are currently taking steps to correct the problem and to ensure that the Duke Dog that everyone loves returns. Please rest assured that the issue is being handled and will result in a timely resolution.
The petition was closed, the protesters rejoiced, the blogosphere celebrated its victory, and the chipmunk on acid went to wherever new mascots go to die.