Mascot Monday: Cardinal and Tree

Okay so we were a couple of days late, but when you combine moving the KCCGD headquarters, ‘Merica’s birthday, and yours truly’s birthday, time gets tight.  So here we are sitting in the middle of the week after a long haul and holidays pumping out yet another mascot to review for Mascot (mostly) Monday.  This week we hit up Phil Steele’s number 34 ranked preseason team in Stanford with its official and unofficial mascots.  The path to having  a color be a mascot had some controversial bumps, while the path for the tree just seemed plain goofy.  That said, we’re glad we’re back at the keyboard to bring you another mascot to munch on.

After Standford’s first ever ‘Big Game’ against California in 1892, the cardinal color was picked as the school’s official color, even though some wanted gold.  The color continued to be the trademark up until 1930.  The abundance of Indian related influence around the region led directly to Standford’s rebranding to the Indians as its official nickname.  Prince Lightfoot would parade the field on the sidelines much throughout Standford’s history.  That all changed in 1972.

A group of Native American students from Standford, along with Native American students enrolled in other California colleges, met with Stanford President Richard Lyman to petition to drop the Indian name from the school.  Their argument included the offensive use of the mascot and the insult to their heritage.   The students would argue to the president: “You see something dignified and vaguely authentic. I see a Yurok Indian performing Plains dances in Navajo dress, and I find it troubling.” So the school dropped the Indian name.

Up until 1982, Stanford’s official name was the Cardinals.  Other names bounced around like Robber Barons (a sly reference to Leland Stanford’s history), Sequoias, Trees, Railroaders, Spikes, Huns, and Griffins. In 1981, school President Donald Kennedy put an end to all the speculation and grass root campaigns for the mascot name and left the school’s name as Cardinal.  The color.  It’s a little too abstract and makes for hard reviewing for us.  Fortunately, the marching band had an unlikely replacement ready to go.

In the aftermath of the controversy over the Indian name, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) provided farcical mascot choices that represented their region of the country.  At halftime, mascots like the  Steaming Manhole, the French Fry, and the Tree would trot out and entertain the fans.  The Tree was so well received, however, that it cemented its presence permanently on the LSJUMB’s squad.  Nowadays, a new costume fashioned by the incumbent Tree debuts every year and the tradition of mascot snarkiness carries on.

Since we can really review a color (Cardinal is red, the end), let’s take a look at least year’s version of the costume.  So it’s a tree.  Okay, this may still be pretty hard.  The tree is green and it has red, er Cardinal, legs.  For some reason we’re getting a Christmas feel on this one.  The mouth is huge and toward the bottom the tree.  It can be open, closed, or wherever.  Last year’s version had a big top hat and what looks like a group of ties.  All Stanford Trees have big googly eyes.  From the top down, the Tree is wacky to the max.  It really doesn’t make any sense, but then again neither does a color being a school mascot so we dig the Tree.

And there you have it.  The football team looks to be great this year again thanks to head coach Jim Harbaugh.  The team will most likely fall into the 25 by the end of the upcoming season, mainly because USC will be down for a couple of years.  The Cardinal color will run strong much like Toby Gerhart did last year.  It’s a good thing the Tree will be around to keep things light.