Behold that Tiger

Aubie, mascot and spokestiger for my alma mater Auburn University, is highly respected in his field. His non-threatening and animated appearance has made him very popular and, over time, has elevated him to a symbol of not just the sports programs but the entirety of AU itself. Don’t take my word for it. In national competition, he has been named “best college mascot” several times. Yes, apparently there is such a thing. Aside from his antics, which tend to the comic, there are several things to like about Aubie. For one thing, he is based on a cartoon. The “real” Aubie is patterned after a paper tiger that was created and drawn by Birmingham Post-Herald cartoonist Phil Neel. For decades, Neel’s two-dimensional Aubie graced the cover of Auburn’s game-day football program. When the powers that be decided they needed a sideline mascot, Neel’s Aubie was a ready prototype. Also, Aubie retains his autonomy. As far as I am aware, he is the only college mascot who will not permit Lee Corso to get inside his head. On the rare occasion Coach Corso picks Auburn, he must don an AU football helmet. There is a small cadre of students trained to inhabit the Aubie costume in a given year, but—supposedly—no one knows who they are. And Aubie couldn’t be bought. While other mascots traipsed around in commercials for one corporate television sponsor or another, Aubie did not. Until this year. This year, I have seen Aubie in a series of television commercials, and it bothers me. No, it isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but college athletic programs apparently cannot get enough money these days. Anyway, we’re proud of Aubie.


20 thoughts on “Behold that Tiger”

  1. Sorry, I have to disagree. The best college mascot is Buckingham U. Badger, aka Bucky the Badger. The badger was associated with the University of Wisconsin as early as the 1890s but Bucky’s “official” birthday is 2 Oct 1940 when the copyright was awarded.

  2. The largest newspaper in Florida (in circulation), the Tampa Bay Times (nee St. Petersburg Times) announced today that a rather massive redesign was coming this Friday. By my calculations, that would be tomorrow. Among other things the paper will combine the A and B sections, traditionally national and local news respectively.
    What caught my eye was that several long running comic strips were being moved to the special E-edition. These include Blondie, Mother Goose & Grimm, Hager the Horrible, For Better or For Worse, Pajama Diaries, Breaking Cat News and Doug eat Dog. Two single panels, Cornered and Reality Check are also being moved to the E-page only. This is about the number of strips on the second color page so I’m thinking that the whole page will be removed with some remaining strips placed on the first color page. A&J made the cut to remain in the printed product.

    It was also announced that the number of crossword puzzles would be reduced. No number was mentioned but there are currently three so it will be two or one in the future. I suppose management doesn’t realize that many subscribers take the paper strictly to do the daily crosswords. Many folks do not have the facilities to print a puzzle and filling them in on a screen is a challenge 🙂

    I’m sure this is being done to save printing costs as Canadian newsprint is now heavily tarriffed and the single U.S. supplier has jacked up prices.

    I’m an E-subscriber only since the annual delivered price more than doubled when renewal came around last year. While that was bad enough, the new carrier was less than reliable so I spent many days with only the E-edition available anyway.

  3. I’ve always been confused by the Auburn athletic team names- Are they the Tigers or the War Hawks? It seems to me I’ve heard the teams called both.

    I love the costumed mascots as much as anyone, but I really like the live animal mascots- they seem to harken back to the simpler times of collegiate football. Besides, how can you kidnap your opponents mascot if it’s just a student in a cloth suit?

    • The Auburn team name is Tigers and always has been. “War Eagle” is like a rallying cry, something you yell at kickoff. There are many versions of the phrase’s origin, all dating to the 19th Century and all equally preposterous. As for live mascots, we have a cool one of those, too. We have an eagle that flies over the stadium before every home football game. Actually there are several eagles, wards of the AU School of Veterinary Medicine’s Raptor Center, which rescues and treats birds of prey.

  4. Our official mascot at my ala mater (Purdue) is a train. So our mascot can run over your mascot with our eyes closed. Our unofficial mascot is Boilermaker Pete. I was born in Ohio but moved to Indiana very early in my life. My mom found a Boilermaker Pete t-shirt and the only pictures of my in my first two years of life was in that shirt. It kind of symbolized our family as three went to Purdue, two others got Bachelors, the other two got associates, with all paying their way without Mom or Dad’s help and I don’t believe any of us got loans. My parents deeply encouraged each of us to attend college and we all did it. Most of their grandchildren got their degrees as well. My daughter got a Psychology degree from Michigan State and then went back to get her Mechanical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. She is presently getting her Masters (online) from Purdue (not Purdue Global). So #BoilerUp

  5. Cornell U’s mascot is a black bear, Ursus americanus, but I don’t believe we now have a real one, just a student in a suit. We may have had in ages past. But UC Santa Cruz has us all beat:

    Again, just a student in a suit, plus [I’m told] the basketball team crawl around, +/- slug-like, on the court before a game starts [they routinely lose]. There’s no point in UCSC’s keeping a real banana slug; there’re a dime a dozen in the nearby coastal redwood forest. The ones farther N in coastal OR may be greener. At least, that’s how I remember them from UOR’s marine biol institute in ’62.
    Don’t remember if Stuyvesant HS had a mascot. Believe there are no wolverines, Gulo gulo, in MI. They range from the N Eurasia through AK across N Can., and barely into N MN.

    • Perhaps I can claim to be one by adoption, having attended U. Kansas for my graduate work. Undergraduate (Wittenberg) mascot was a more-or-less prosaic tiger. There was a marvelous rendition of “Hold that Tiger” – if that is the formal name – my last year, thanks to a freshman with the greatest trombone technique I’d seen. He made those home basketball games memorable (aside from the talent of the team: national “small college” champs in 1961).

  6. JJ-

    I’ve seen video of the War Eagle flying around the stadium before games, and it is majestic. This was also the source of my confusion.

    My HS had a live mascot- Barney the Ram. It lived at a local farm and his handlers were from the 4H club and were called Barney’s Boys. During football games he mostly just stood on the sidelines and chewed grass.

    BTW, I believe the University of Delaware is the only Division A program with a nominally female mascot for all sports teams- the Blue Hens. Just recently they began live displaying Blue Hens before games- no majestic flyovers, though. 🙂

  7. Memphis has a real tiger who gets paraded on the sidelines at the games. He”s named “Tom” (Tigers of Memphis) and the original lived at the Memphis zoo. Apparently a Bengal tiger was too common for the updated “Cat Country” and he now lives on a country estate in luxury. We have a cute tiger too, created by the Disney people. If you’re remotely interested (and I would expect you’re not!) info here:

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