24 July 2014

In search of an identity for UTRGV, or: why Bucky must go

To the right, we have the new University of Dayton logo (hat tip to Matthew Hartings):

It looks like the initials, “VD,” which, for many people, still conjures up the phrase “venereal disease.” It’s astonishingly bad. It’s going to be the start of jokes for years.

The reminder of how tricky university team names and logos are is on my mind a lot, because we are going through the process of branding The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Yesterday, an important decision was made, as our incoming president, Guy Bailey, emailed his decision on the new university logos.

I like these. The custom swish of the R makes it distinctive and a touch graceful, without being distracting.

The logos are not quite finalized, yet. The colours may change, because we are still selecting a new mascot and team name for University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. There was an initial meeting here at UTPA last week, which I attended, and another at UT Brownsville, which I followed on Twitter.

What was striking, per maybe predictable, was that many in the UTPA crowd wanted to keep the current UTPA team name (Broncs) and mascot (Bucky). A #KeepBucky hashtag often crops up on Twitter during these discussions.

On the other hand, the UTB crowd was completely and utterly opposed to keeping Bucky.

I side with the Brownsville people on this one. Bucky must go!

It’s interesting to me to compare the current Bronc / Bucky fan cry of “Why does it have to change?” It sounds so much like the sort of “nerd rage” that you see when the announcement comes that Thor will be a woman, or that Daniel Craig will be James Bond. (“Bond not blonde!”) People freak out, then come around when they see the final thing (assuming the end result is good, of course). But even if it isn’t, Sean Connery fans will always have his performance in From Russia With Love regardless of Craig’s turn in Casino Royale.

Bronc fans, a new mascot will not take away your memories of the old mascot. It does not remove history. You will always have the great memories of Bronc events with Bucky.

But the bottom line for me is this.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is a new university, the first new American research university of the twenty-first century. It needs a new team name, a new mascot, and new colours. UTRGV can’t be stuck in the past.

Here are three suggestions that I happen to like, particularly the first two.

The Green Jays

The green jay is a charismatic local bird that sports both green (a colour associated with UTPA) and blue (a colour associated with UTB). The bird is only found in southern Texas in the United States. A few other US universities use blue jays as mascots, but nobody else uses the green jay. And the green could look good with UT System orange. (Picture from here.)



Texas is known for its NASA facilities and the role they played in the American space program. This tradition looks set to continue with the likely creation of a SpaceX launch facility in south Texas. Only one other US university has that as its team name. Plus, it’s forward looking. And you could have the repeated “R” in the name, the Rio Rockets.


Another common species in Texas, although not as much as the birds mentioned above. They’re quick and tough and recognizable. And great stuffed toy potential. Currently, no university team uses this name. (One San Antonio university used to as a nickname, but they’re officially the Saints.) And the “RGV Armadillos” has some nice repeating “ar” sounds.


Another prominent, distinctive bird that is found only in the region within the U.S. While it’s not as striking a bird as the green jay, it would have one big advantage: it would be fun to say! Come on, say “Chachalaca!” out loud! It’s practically it’s own battle cry! (Picture from here.)

Names we probably shouldn’t use:

Vipers: If it weren’t already the name of a local basketball team, it would be perfect! We do have a lot of snakes in the region. The name has the repeated “V” with the “Valley Vipers.”

Bees: Also taken, this time by a local hockey team. I liked this one because of the repeated long “e” in RGV Bees.

Monarchs: As in, butterflies. Not terrible, but used by several other universities. Also, monarch butterflies are so wide ranging that they’re not terribly distinctive to the region.

Hawks: This one got suggested at one of the town hall meetings. Hawks are common and visible here, and fine looking birds. My only concern is that a lot of universities already use this name.

Mustangs: I thought about this one a lot. With so many of the UTPA community wanting to keep the Bronc, I thought maybe you could keep the horse motif going. Ultimately, though, I don’t think it separates itself far enough from the Bronc to establish a new identity for UTRGV. Any horse-related name or mascot is going to cause hard feelings and resentment, which we absolutely do not need in trying to create this new institution. It already has enough challenges.

Colts: All the same problems as Mustangs, plus... colts are male horses. It would be weird to have our female athletes having a male team name. And it would be even dumber if they tried to make it okay by feminizing the women’s team name to “Coltettes” or something.

Toros: Spanish for “bull.” There was an impressive marquette shown at the UTPA meeting of a bull, but see my notes on “Colts” above: do we really want the name of a male animal for women’s teams? Also, another university already has this one.

Vaqueros: Spanish for “cowboy.” It has a regional flavour, but I worry about this being slightly too esoteric for a name. But I could be wrong; I was surprised to learn that this one is already used by another university.

Hurricanes: I know other sports teams have been named after natural disasters, I have a problem with naming teams after an event that causes so much damage and suffering. Plus, this one is taken by a couple of other teams.

External links

Broncs buck identity change as UT-RGV plans for new, merged identity in Edinburg and Brownsville

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