Big Ten: Purdue Pete

New Purdue Pete, we hardly knew ye.

Boilermakers fans have spoken, and the old Purdue Pete is coming back.

The school announced Wednesday that it will retire the new Purdue Pete and bring back the previous model. Purdue officially unveiled the new Pete at Saturday's Black and Gold Game, and he was greeted with criticism from most folks. His overall getup, without a jersey, has been a major turnoff.
"The fans have spoken, and we are listening," athletic director Morgan Burke said in a prepared statement. "They like the Purdue Pete they've known for the last 30 years, and that's the one we're going with. Fan passion trumps prototype. That level of passion is synonymous with athletic success, and we're all for that. Fans can see the unretired Purdue Pete in Ross-Ade Stadium Sept. 3."

Purdue decided to give Pete a makeover for several reasons, including the belief that he was scaring younger fans. Also, the departure of the professor who designed Pete's fiberglass head played into the decision.

This has to be a bit embarrassing for the school, but at least they haven't buried their heads in the sand. Well, they might have buried new Pete's head. Sorry, bad joke.

Thoughts on Purdue's mascot revival?

Big Ten mailblog

March, 2, 2010
As promised, we'll begin the mailblog with a few takes on the Purdue Pete makeover and move on from there.

Craig from St. Paul, Minn., writes: In high school I worked as Bugs Bunny for the Warner Brothers Studio Store. Do you know how many children broke into tears when their parents brought them anywhere close to me? Hundreds, and I was dressed as Bugs Bunny. Doesn't get less scary than that.Purdue is overreacting to a bunch of overprotective parents that can't have their precious little snowflake unhappy for even a millisecond.

Daniel from Lakewood, Ohio, writes: Purdue Pete is there to scare the children away from going to Purdue so that they go somewhere more fun. He serves an important purpose. Sparty is still the king of mascots.

Adam Rittenberg: I don't see a pressing need for a change, but I'm not getting tons of phone calls like AD Morgan Burke. As long as Purdue Pete doesn't lose his sledgehammer -- which he reportedly will keep -- I'm willing to wait and pass judgment later on the new design.

Peter from Stamford, Conn., writes: Adam - anyone who lives in the New York City area knows that NO one in Manhattan cares about Rutgers football except their alums. And even many of their alums don't care. NYC is a pro football town, they don't care about college. So why does the Big Ten keep insisting that Rutgers "brings" the NYC television market?

Adam Rittenberg: Rutgers is a strong academic fit for the Big Ten, and its location near the New York City market certainly appeals to some folks in the Big Ten. But I still look at the entire Rutgers athletic program, and even the school's limited positive history in football, and wonder if RU is the best single, realistic addition for the Big Ten, as both Notre Dame and Texas seem to be off the table. Greg Schiano has got a good thing going in football, and the women's basketball program has done well, but I'm not sure the entire department could cut it in the Big Ten. Rutgers has finished 92nd and 126 in the Directors' Cup in the last two seasons, well outside the Big Ten's range. Some will argue, "Who cares about the department if Rutgers football is a strong fit?" They might be right, but I tend to agree with Peter that Rutgers will have a hard time consistently capturing the New York market.

Peter from Arlington, Va., writes: Why is Maryland never considered for Big10 expansion? Its a good school, borders PA, and draws the DC/Baltimore TV audience?

Adam Rittenberg: I've wondered the same thing at times, Peter, but Maryland has expressed no interest in leaving the ACC, where it has a lot of traditional ties. Plus, Maryland's football program hasn't been able to sustain success, and football drives the bus for most of the Big Ten expansion candidates being mentioned. There would be a natural tie with Penn State, and Big Ten coaches would love another reason to recruit the DC/Maryland area, one of the top regions for high school talent. I wouldn't totally write off Maryland, but I doubt the school is high on the Big Ten's list of candidates.

Ron from Madison, Wis., writes: Please explain all the love for Iowa for next season. I understand that their defense will be good again, but their scoring offense ranked 10th in the conference last season and Stanzi threw as many INTs as TDs, so I can't imagine they'll improve with 4 new starters on the O-line. Considering that Iowa's last second wins against the Spartans and UNI could easily have been losses, I see them losing a couple more games next fall after their usual losses to Northwestern and Ohio State. How about you?

Adam Rittenberg: Iowa will have arguably the best defensive line in America next fall, and the Hawkeyes remain very strong at several skill positions, namely safety, running back and wide receiver. Ricky Stanzi's roller-coaster play is well documented, but the guy wins games and steps up in the fourth quarter. You do raise an excellent point about the offensive line, and if Iowa doesn't reload there, nothing much else will matter. But you also need to look at Iowa's history at offensive line under Kirk Ferentz. Aside from the miserable 2007 performance, the unit has performed good to great in recent years. Iowa has two players with significant experience in Riley Reiff and Julian Vandervelde. Building around them will go a long way toward determining success or failure in 2010. Also remember that the schedule flips, so Iowa gets to host both Ohio State and Wisconsin (and Penn State) this fall.

Steve from Chicago writes: Hey Adam,How important is NU returning its entire offensive line to helping improve our terrible running game? Obviously we need one of our current players or new recruits to step up, but will the veterans on the OL be able to give them a boost?

Adam Rittenberg: It's very important that Northwestern has a lot of experience back, but those veterans need to start performing like it in 2010. Pat Fitzgerald really challenged the group in 2008, but the run game never really got going. Someone certainly needs to emerge from the running back pool, but NU's line needs to make rushing the football a point of pride. Former head coach Randy Walker was known for producing 1,000-yard rushers, but he did arguably his best working challenging the offensive linemen and their position coach, who would put extra pressure on them to step up. With so much uncertainty at QB, WR and RB, Northwestern's offensive line must carry the unit early in the season.
First off, I apologize for taking so long to post/opine on Purdue Pete's impending makeover.

Forget about league expansion. Big Ten fans love their mascots, and any time changes are made, it qualifies as a big deal.

[+] EnlargePurdue Pete
Sandra Dukes/Icon SMIPurdue hopes to unveil a new-look Purdue Pete before the 2010 football season.
Why the makeover for Purdue Pete? He's scaring the children.
"Look, I'm the one who gets the phone calls from parents who say that big face scares their 3-year-old," said Morgan Burke, athletic director. "It's been 25 to 30 years since he got a makeover. At some point, the poor old guy has to come into the 21st century."

Purdue has hired designers to give Pete a new look, which the school hopes to unveil before the 2010 football season. The school's official mascot, The Boilermaker Special, remains part of all athletic events.

Some Purdue fans aren't happy about Pete's absence and his impending new look. And while I understand Burke's concern, I don't really blame them.

Is there a huge difference between Pete's determined expression and that of, say, Sparty or Bucky Badger? There are certainly meaner-looking mascots out there, even meaner-looking Pete's.

And he is, after all, a Boilermaker, not known for being warm and cuddly.
"He will always be a mix of serious and humor," Burke said. "That is his spirit and character. This is just an effort to bring him up to speed. I remember in the '70s when he wore a leisure suit. We're not going to do that today."

The history of Purdue Pete shows several versions, including some less scary ones in his early years. Purdue's main challenge with the redesign is to tone down Pete's expressions without alienating fans who probably don't want their beloved figure looking like this or even this.
Teri Lucie Thompson, vice president of marketing for Purdue, said the design process has started. The focus is not so much on props as on expressions.

"It's more about the eyes and the mouth," she said. "He has a very square jaw and kind of cleft chin. Does that stay? The fear could be coming from his eyes. How do you balance that intensity, keep the competitive fire in the eyes, but also make sure there is approachability?"

There's a question that will keep me up at night.

What say ye, Big Ten fans? How should Purdue change Pete's image? Better yet, do you like your favorite team's mascot or wish it were nicer looking or meaner looking?

Good responses will appear in today's mailblog.



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