Thursday, March 25, 2010

Duke University's Blue Devil

Duke University

Mascot: The Blue Devil

Resembles: A blue alien/pizza mascot (I'll explain later)

Known for: Annoying the Eastern Seaboard
(And the rest of the country)

How sick are we of seeing this stupid Blue Devil running around the basketball court on ESPN commercials, with his cape flapping about, and his horns (or antennas?) flopping to and fro? What is this thing? Aren't devils supposed to be scary looking? This Prince of Darkness looks more like a California raisin donning a Batman mask. And does he have a brillo pad on his chin?

What exactly does Duke have to do with Devils? And why Blue Devils? Aren't devils supposed to be red? Well, according to their official web site, the Blue Devil name was inspired by French soldiers in World World I, nicknamed "Les Diables Bleus" (French for Blue Devils if you didn't catch that.) These guys were strong, specially trained, fierce fighters dressed in blue capes. When the U.S. became involved in WW I, Les Diables Bleus toured the U.S. to gain support and money for the War and left a lasting impression among Americans.

When football was reinstated after the War, Trinity College (which later became Duke University) was looking for a team name. They already decided their colors would be blue and white, but couldn't decide on a mascot to match the color palate. The Trinity Chronicle, their student newspaper, held a mascot-naming contest and the Blue Devils was an initial favorite. However, some skepticism erupted with Trinity College's tie to the Methodist Church. Eventually, the Blue Devils name stuck, and it's here to stay.

So as all mascots do, the Blue Devil evolved over the years. Here's one of the first known pictures of the Blue Devil, circa 1939. What's up with the clown outfit? He looks like John Wayne Gacy after a fresh kill. Creeeeeeepy.

Here's the Blue Devil in 1952, with what the Duke archives refers to as an "assistant". Really? Don't you mean "roommate"? The way that Blue Devil is dressed, and his pose straddling the goalpost? I'm thinking he "assisted" him with more than leading on some cheers, if ya know what I mean. And why did the Devil get the fabulous shiny blouse, and his boyfriend, er, assistant get stuck with the lame onesy? They did both, however, get horns.

Now here's the '70s Blue Devil. Now I get that the '70s gave rise to Porn, but did the Blue Devil have to get involved with this genre too? I mean, mascots are supposed to be family friendly here. What's with the Blue Devil's S & M mask, and the, um, 3rd leg? Gross. He's even opening his cape and flashing everyone. Even a Devil should have some standards.

Below is the devil in 1995. Somehow, the Blue Devil got hydrocephalus, and his head became incredibly disproportionate. Now here comes the pizza mascot reference. Don't you think he looks just a little like the Noid from the Domino's pizza ads from the late '80s/early '90s? Remember, "Avoid the Noid?" What is this creature? And even though you stuck a mangy, un-matching go-tee on his face, he doesn't look like a devil, people!

Now, throughout my research, I developed some confusion. The Duke Blue Devil seemed to be a chamelean of sorts, sometimes looking like the Noid, and other times looking more pointy. So I can't figure out if he switches things up, or if now he's pointy with a smaller head. Perhaps he got a VP shunt. I can't say I've been personally stalking him all that much lately. But here's a shot of a more pointy Blue Devil looking like he's gearing up to take a big "Duke" on the floor of Cameron Stadium. I don't think that poor cheerleader suspects anything yet.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 10: The Blue Devil has some originality. At least he's not a "Tiger" or "Bear" or some lame animal. The fact that he's blue helps too - not a lot of blue mascots out there. He is one of the few mascots that's fully clothed, but that's kind of boring. I like half-dressed mascots. He does an a bit of an identity crisis, sometimes lacking the look of an actual devil. But overall, not a bad mascot.

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