Kent State Has a Hall of Fame Coach, Excellent Teams – and that Mascot?
I always wondered where some universities came up with their mascots. As an Oregon fan, it still took a little while to get used to Puddles (Donald Duck on rent from Disney) prancing along the sideline. Then, I saw him on the golf course rooting for the U of O golf team, and that just didn’t look right at all. Where did the Delaware Blue Hens come from, or the Texas Christian Horned Frogs? In Arizona, there is even a school called the Artichokes. So I was naturally curious about the Kent State mascot as an emblem for a school playing terrific competitive golf, both men and women.
I finally got the story on that. It’s a sort of eagle combined with a lightning bolt, and no one knows who the guy in the suit is along the sideline. In 1923, it was the Silver Foxes, because the first president owned a silver fox farm. The Golden Flashes won out after a competition in 1926. The Silver Foxes could be vulnerable to coy or low interpretations, so even though it has a suave sound, it’s probably good that they changed it. The eagle appeared fairly early, and can always be relied upon as a good old patriotic symbol. At one point, the logos changed from a bolt to a Golden Retriever. That’s also good. In the animal world, one can scarcely find a better symbol of loyalty and perseverance than the Golden Retriever. Unfortunately, that morphed into a cartoon character named Grog. As a collegiate symbol, that could have the same problem as before. Leaving that thread entirely, one early Golden Flasher mascot was a masked figure on horseback. Again, Kent State left itself open to snarky jokes they are better left without. The masked man lost the Palomino in 1973. That cuts down on some logistic problems. A live horse on the field is very effective, a la USC and Florida State, but requires careful management. Finally, in 1944, the tech department built a giant egg, which revealed the new eagle at homecoming. For the human in the suit, the gear was way too hot, but the eagle elevated the conversation above seamier associations. I hope that the golf team is content to wear the logo on the appropriate garb. An eagle romping around behind the tee box would be as bad as Oregon’s Puddles.
All that being said, Kent State’s golf teams are just downright good, and Canadian Herb Page is largely responsible for it. The coach opened the way for Canadian golfers to play at the Division I university, and he stayed for 40 years. When he retires soon, he will be inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. The resume of his team includes 23 Mid-American Conference titles and 29 appearances in the NCAA tournament. They have been in the championship round 18 times. The women’s team was established in 1998, and riding on the back of that mysterious mascot, they have already won four MAC titles. Page is standing in as an interim coach for Greg Robertson, who came over from Purdue. Several pro standouts have emerged from the programs over the years.
Among the nine or ten standout universities on both coasts and in between that have caught my attention over the years, Kent State sneaked by me. Who knew that they were enjoying such success, let alone fielding a great coach who stays for four decades? That term of service is nearly unheard of in this day and age. Of course, the university is in Ohio, and you-know-who came from Ohio, with several others. It’s a golfing sort of geography. Now that I know the story of the mascot, I have two questions. Why didn’t they go with the Golden Bears? I suppose that’s because Jack went to Ohio State, now that I think of it. Second, what do the cheers sound like? How does one cheer a Golden Flash?