You may or may not know that the University of Michigan does not enjoy sole ownership of the Wolverine nickname. We share it with Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Grove City College in Grove City, Penn., Utah Valley State College in Oren, Utah and Wesley College in Dover, Del. It troubles me that a school as unique as ours, with a history of trend-setting (especially in athletics) would allow itself to be duplicated by various imposters, each of which we would absolutely demolish in field hockey.
The wolverine, as many Michigan sports fans know, doesn’t so much live in Michigan as in Alaska. According the Michigan State Geography Department, the last known sighting of the animal was shortly after the Civil War. It’s reputation is that of a gluttonous and ferocious animal, with little redeeming qualities about it – it is not without irony that Chris Webber is among the most famous of all Wolverines. The native Americans who lived in Michigan attached the nickname to the white men who took their land because it was the worst thing they could think to call them.
Another hypothesis put forth by the Geography Department is that the nickname was attached to Michiganders by the Buckeyes of Ohio during the Toledo War of 1835, when Michigan – violent and bloodthirsty – lay claim to the Toledo Strip, a disputed territory on the Michigan-Ohio boarder.
Regardless of the connotations associated with the scientificly named Gulo gulo (gulo is Latin for glutton), the last wolverine in Michigan (stuffed, of course, since the 1860s) apparently resides in Traverse City with dentist Gary Kaberle. Dr. Kaberle was unavailable for comment, and his receptionist was not at all helpful. Dentists – who needs them? Just sadists with newer magazines.
With such a rich and treasured history as the wolverine has in the state of Michigan, it is small wonder why the school would want to adopt this nasty creature as its nickname. But Morris Brown? Grove City? What are they thinking? As little sense as it makes for Michigan to be the Wolverines, it makes less sense for these other schools. Beyond that, though, their logos put ours to shame. Indeed, the Michigan logo does not even display anything remotely wolverinish, whereas the other schools have made great strides in Wolverine logoing.
Those logos are displayed below. My personal favorite, as I imagine yours will be, is Utah Valley State. Notice the stout nose, teeth, fur and scowl. Very wolverinish. Grove City, despite the headline’s alliteration, comes in second. The blood and the GCC beanie earn it major points. Michigan – home of the original gluttons – comes in dead last.
David Horn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.