The Hawkeyes, the Illini, the Gophers, and the Wolverines. Quite a schedule for Penn State in October, and not a good start in the Big Ten. Herky the Hawkeye will stand tall on our mantel piece until next season. As mentioned last week, this is getting quite tiresome.
This week we play the Illini of Illinois. They don't have a mascot. That was true when we first joined the Big Ten and is true now.
"What about Chief Illiniwek?" some would ask. Wasn't he their mascot when Penn State joined the Big Ten?
When we were first collecting Big Ten mascots in the 1990's, we were told by several Illinois fans and merchandise salespeople that Chief Illiniwek is a spirit, not a mascot.
The University of Illinois never created a stuffed version of the Chief. Nor would you ever see the Chief on the sidelines of a game as part of the cheerleading squad. He did perform a very impressive ceremonial dance each half-time that was revered by Illinois fans.
So to represent Illinois we bought a bear with University of Illinois helmets on it. Chief Illiniwek is no longer a spirit or symbol for Illinois due to the resolution of a longstanding controversy regarding its representation of Native American peoples. Chief Illiniwek's last dance was performed at a basketball game in February of 2007.
For more information on the controversy surrounding Chief Illiniwek, you can visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Illiniwek
The Minnesota Gopher and Northwestern Wildcats were easily found when we visited their campuses.
A Michigan Wolverine was not so easy to find. In 1994, a game I missed due to my nephew's wedding, I commissioned my husband Terry to find me a stuffed Wolverine for my collection. He traveled all over Ann Arbor visiting several Michigan merchandise stores before he finally found a stuffed puppet head of a Wolverine. That would have to do!
So here is the October schedule, with all the Big Ten mascots standing:
I suspect that the Illinois bear will be on its back after Saturday. Penn State should have a home field advantage and it's also Homecoming. Plus, the team has a lot to prove. They will be very motivated to win.
Then we have a weekend off. That should help solve injuries that have plagued and weakened us. It should also help the team focus on needed improvements.
We then play the Gophers at Minnesota at their new stadium - a trip I'm looking forward to because the new stadium looks awesome. Plus, we love to visit Minneapolis - a great city.
Michigan will be an 8 p.m. game under the lights at Beaver Stadium. The stadium will be rocking for that one. I'm a bit worried about a much improved Michigan team. But right now that's just too far ahead to think about.
We have to knock down these mascots one game at a time!