Okay, so, here I am, and I guess I’m just confused, like I don’t really know how to explain this, it’s kinda complicated, so let’s just come right out and ask.
What was wrong with the old Swoop?
Not that the new Swoop is necessarily bad, aside from a tacky belt buckle, a weird amount of grey or the fact that he super looks like a Luchador, but it’s just kind of a random issue I’m having.
It’s a small issue right now, I’ll eat that, for sure. I just don’t understand what was wrong with the Swoop from a couple of weeks ago. It was an eagle, not totally different from the one we have now (minus the teeth).
Based on what I found, of the three bird mascots in the UT System lineup, Swoop is the only one with teeth. This is presumably because birds do not have teeth.
To be more specific, there are eight University of Texas System Academic Institutions. All of these institutions have a mascot. Four of these mascots have teeth: UT Dallas’ horrifying mascot, Temoc (Comet spelled backwards, literally google it), UT Arlington’s Blaze (a maverick), UT Tyler’s new Swoop and UT Rio Grande Valley’s Vaquero (a human outlaw-like character).
On the other hand, three of these mascots do not have teeth: UT Austin’s Hook ‘Em (a bipedal cartoonish Longhorn), UT Permian Basin’s Freddy the Falcon (a bird) and UT San Antonio’s Rowdy the Roadrunner (also a bird). UT El Paso has Paydirt Pete (an Old West prospector), but his mascot mouth is currently closed, so there’s no way to know if or how many teeth he has.
Swoop was brown with a jersey, no detailed anime-style eyes and for sure no cape.
Obviously, the Biology department was not consulted about the commonality of pelagornithidae (that’s the occurrence of birds having teeth-like ridges along the edges of their beaks, not in the backs of their mouths).
On some level, I get it. Swoop has had several updates throughout the years, and if you saw the Twitter posts about the horrifying Swoop reminiscent of a Silent Hill or Five Nights at Freddy’s creature of the past, it’s definitely an improvement.
But, with all the commotion caused a couple of years ago with the removal of Swoop, the alleged mascot burial site, and then the reinstatement of Swoop as the official mascot, why risk backlash?
Two years ago, there was an actual Change.org petition and hashtag designed to #SaveSwoop.
When students have demonstrated their reluctance for change, the overhaul of a mascot that represented a tradition students were not just willing to accept, but do so enthusiastically, illustrates a deep and profound disconnect between the administration and the students at this school.
The New Swoop represents a prioritization of Public Relations over campus culture, and as long as that continues to happen without true student input and empowerment, this campus will not become an engine of economic and educational growth for East Texas, and rebrands could become all the more common.
Students will be stuck with a transient mascot, transient branding and jokes about squirrels, patriots, turtles, trash pandas and even the animal clinic billboard’s religious fire and brimstone that could inform the perspective of people trying to make change on this campus will stay just that: jokes.