Mascot Monday: The Aztec Warrior

You know it’s fun to dress up when you’re a mascot. Most of the time, all you have to do is zip up costume, toss on some shoulder pads, and drop a big ole furry head on your shoulders. That’s tons of fun, but to me, slapping on some warpaint and gigging up to look like a warrior is way better. That’s why I’m pumped to talk about The Aztec Warrior and San Diego State. It seems fluffy characters outweigh the human ones so when I get a chance to review one that sports weapons, I get super psyched.

San Diego State kicked to life in 1897 as the San Diego Normal School. It wasn’t until 1921 that a football team fielded the Aztec name, due to the merger of San Diego Normal School and San Diego Junior College. The football team won a couple of small college national championships in the 1960s and their only other notable football work was just last year when Brady Hoke coached the Aztecs to a Poinsetta Bowl victory over Navy. Coach Hoke has since left for Michigan.

We’re here to talk about the Aztec Warrior, however. The football, and other athletic teams, were competing in the sweet San Diego sun through most of the school’s history, but it wasn’t until 1940s that the Aztec Warrior made his appearance. The school’s Rally Committee decided they needed a mascot named after Montezuma II and Art Munzig was the first to don the warrior garb. San Diego State changed the name from Montezuma to the Aztec Warrior in 2004, probably to avoid any revenge if you know what I”m talking about.

The uniform of an Aztec Warrior consists of traditional feathers and warrior tunics. The loin cloth protects the warrior while the cover shirt displays the school colors in all of its ancient patterned glory. Sitting on top of the warrior’s noggin is a bird like helmet complete with feathers spraying off the backside of the top. Not to be outdone, the shields sports feathers all around with the Aztec logo displayed prominently up front. You may see a spear here or there but he’s pretty frightful without it.

I’m totally down with this style of mascot. The dressed up human just doesn’t get enough love in college sports. Sure, there’s the Chief Osceola and the Fighting Irish dude, but many schools take a human mascot and lay a giant cartoon head on top. The kids might like it but it looks goofy to the rest of us. Tradition plays a big part here as well. I don’t know about you, but I get a sense of greater tradition when watching a human mascot perform or some half inflated human monstrosity. It just feels better.

So that’s what I’m left with for the Aztec Warrior. He’s not up to par with some of the grander human mascots (re: above), but for the size of San Diego State and the tradition with their own mascot, it passes with flying colors. Some schools out there need to take a lesson off the Aztec Warrior and humanize their mascot. I’m looking at you, Oklahoma State and Pistol Pete. That said, don’t expect me to be around when the Aztec Warrior is looking for someone to sacrifice.