In continuing with our homage to March Madness Mascots, this week’s entrant supports a team that recently ran over the the Duke Blue Devils. This blog is all about football, but we’re not so naive enough to wonder what that accomplishments. So in reward for achieving that impressive feat, we are going to be looking at the University of Maryland’s Testudo. We’ll take a look at the bronze buddy and the fabric counterpart in this trip down mascot lane. We’ll find out first and foremost, just what the hell a Testudo is along the way. So poke your head out for Testudo!
From its inception in 1856 all the through the early 1930’s, the University of Maryland was known as the Old Liners. The Old Liners was yet another example of revolutionary war nicknames being used for college athletic mascots. This changed in 1932, Then head football coach Dr. H. Curley Byrd suggested that the school be named after the state reptile, The Diamondback terrapin, in response to the school newspapers call for an official mascot. The name Testudo, has more of a controversy. Basically it boils down to coming from either the turtle species classification, another classification of turtle from Africa, and the Latin name of the protective helmet for Roman soldiers.
Before we had a fabric friend, we had the all out bronzer. Testudo was the creation of a bunch of alumni plus student charity events. In 1933, the metal behemoth made its debut. Weighing over 300 pounds, one would think it would be hard to mess with Testudo. Hmmm not so much. In his early times, Testudo was abused. From paintings, to defacing, to even theft (twice!), Testudo was the butt of many of a college prankster’s joke. So he was tossed into storage for about 10 years until he was brought back for good, thanks to an extra filling of about 700 pounds of concrete.
After Testudo the bronzer cemented his stay in the Maryland history, another verision of this snappy fellow made an entrance. While there were many unofficial versions of the furry mascot, the first official one popped up in 1978. The signature shell with an ‘M’ painting belly frames the mascot. The unusually large feet and hands help put its stamp on cartooniness. The massive head looks to be the most average looking mascot head, but at least the beak hints at an attack. Testudo exemplifies all the qualities of a headstrong and fighting figure, without all the flash.
Sometimes flash is needed for a mascot to be effective. Sometimes the mascot needs to tone it down a bit. In Testudo’s case, he’s fine right where he is. Sure he may not explode onto the scene, but he does enough quality and charisma to keep our attention. Heck, he was even nominated for the Capital One Mascot of the Year last year. That alone should say this guy belongs with the big boys of mascotsdom. Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but we now Testudo will keep that steady pace and pull on through real soon.