Thursday, July 10, 2008

Let the "Bring Back George" campaign begin

Dixie Fried Sports recently suggested that Vanderbilt bring back George. Who? Those were my thoughts exactly, until DFS provided me with a very valuable history lesson.

According to the story, while Vanderbilt's nickname has always been the Commodores, its mascot during the 1960's was indeed a basset hound named George. Toby Wilt, a Vanderbilt student, routinely brought George to football games and on November 28, 1964, he became a legend by chasing a Tennessee Volunteer mascot, which was a horse at the time, out of the stadium. The Vanderbilt crowd understandably went wild and the Dores went on to win the game 7-0.

George's popularity grew exponentially following his heroic performance. The student booster organization approved George, the fan-favorite who attended all of the Commodore football and basketball games.

The story has it that George actually lived with Wilt at the Sigma Chi house. However, once George became more well-known, he was removed from the house by the Metropolitan Health Department, which didn't approve of a dog living in a fraternity house.

George ended up living in a $300 doghouse after the proposal to build him an elaborate $2,000 home was rejected. Then, in November 1966, George was killed in a tragic accident after chasing an ice truck. He was given a coffin by a local funeral home and supposedly buried in a small plot just north of Dudley Field, which still exists today.

George was replaced by another basset hound, Samantha, but she apparently did not have the "it" factor and Vanderbilt decided to put the basset hound mascot to rest.

Now, here's where the story gets relevant. I think DFS sums it up best so read carefully:
The Dores haven't been to a bowl in over 25 years now. The crowds at Vanderbilt Stadium are less than impressive and many times the average attendance numbers are helped by teams like Alabama or Tennessee's fans making the short trip to Nashville. The program tries to bring in some bit of tradition. After each TD you have a foghorn go off and during the pregame you even have some TNT(For Vandy's fight song "Dynamite"). Still the program is lacking a good representative, someone the student body can rally around.

Bring back George!! Those three words should be on every Vandy fans lips. Not only would the school be celebrating a hero of the past that once chased a Tennessee mascot out of the stadium, but it would also be making a smart marketing decision. Basset Hounds have always been one of the most marketable dogs in the United States. For years the shoe company that made Hush Puppies used the basset hound as a mascot. In the Maytag commercials there was often seen a basset hound as a companion of the lonely Maytag Man.

Basset Hounds are also popular figures in pop culture and TV. Who hasn't seen Hazard County's most lovable pup on The Duke's of Hazard, Flash? In "Smokey and the Bandit" the trucker Snowman is seen with a basset hound friend Fred while driving on the road. The cartoon character "Droopy Dog" was a basset hound. Chips, Columbo, Coach, and even the People's Court have featured the breed at various times.

What better way to bring in new revenue to Vandy. Look at all the money Georgia makes off of UGA t-shirts, hats, and stuffed animals. Smokey has made Tennessee plenty of money over the years. The basset is kid friendly and family friendly. The dog has marketing powers unlike most breeds.

Come on Vandy, pay respect to your past and give all of us in the south a new mascot to love. Become the only major university with a basset hound mascot. Only this time go ahead and build the new George that $2000 doghouse he deserves.

Joseph Williams, Vanderbilt Student Government President, I'm counting on you here. Make this happen. Let's bring back George!

6 comments:

Alex said...

"Bring Back George" T-Shirts should be made readily available the first week of school to help kick this off.

Jarred Amato said...

Alex, T-shirt designs are already in the works. The Sports VU is serious about this campaign and we're going to do our best to bring back George.

Bargo said...

I'm all for Vandy creating an identity for itself in the SEC, but a hound from thirty years ago? I think we're a little late on that.

Seriously, UGA has the bulldog and UT has the hound, its not comparable. People go to UT and UGA simply because of rooting for their football teams (I know, its sad), so they're much more willing to embrace a living mascot. Vandy fans will never generate the same interst, at least until Vandy surpasses one of the schools in football. Until then, "George" will be as incomparable to Smokey as "Dynamite" is to "Rockytop."

Again, maybe a different type of dog would be better, but I think a random, magical season (like Wake Forest a couple years back..) is the only thing that can jumpstart student interest in our football program, and I hate it.

I hate to be devil's advocate here, but it would take several years before our student body even knew about Vandy having a living mascot.

Alex said...

False.

With the popularity of Facebook, The Hustler, and T-Shirts, a Vandy student would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of George by September. Are you creating the group Jared?

Tony Arnold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Arnold said...

I agree with bargo, keep George as a legend. Bringing him back will not live up to it and ruin it.

Vandy is already the object of ridicule in football. How does a Basset hound help? It will be worse than ever by opposing fans. Worse, we look like bad copycats as bargo hints at.

As a 46 year old Vandy fan, I honestly don't get it. I have taken enough abuse over the years. I have no interest in self-inflicted abuse.

The thing that is going to make a difference is to win. Gimmicks just won't cut it.