On the EDge: Another name change for Dixie State

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Goodbye, Red Storm; hello, who-knows-what.

Dixie State University is going to change the nickname for its sports teams again and dump the Big D mascot — that big, ugly, red bull that never made any sense to me anyway.

It’s all supposed to, as school officials are saying, “match the identity of the future strategic plan” of the school, whatever that may mean.

I wasn’t a fan of the Rebels moniker.

It wasn’t about the name Rebels. I have, as a matter of fact, a lot of respect for those with a rebellious streak. But, it had to do with the historical context attached to it. A Confederate soldier running up and down the sidelines as the team mascot is just poor form because of its racist connotations.

Of course, I’m in the minority here, just as I am with the school retaining “Dixie” as part of its name.

READ MORE: DSU looks to rebrand identity, mascot as part of strategic plan

But, that’s all old ground that has been covered many times. I’m not going to change your mind about it, and you’re not going to change mine. So let’s respectfully agree to disagree.

Besides, the school name is not at issue here. It’s the nickname for the sports teams that’s back on the table, and how that connects with the “future strategic plan” of the school baffles me.

It’s not like DSU has a powerhouse athletic department that is going to help fund some medical school or research center.

We’re not talking Ohio State or Michigan State or Florida or any of the other big guns, we’re talking about a small college in a faraway corner of Utah.

The games here are played in the spirit of youthful competition, not national recognition. You aren’t going to find a lot of DSU grads playing in the NFL and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean DSU should hang it up and not compete, it just means that some of the folks at the school are getting a little carried away with all of this.

Especially when they bring in a consultant to come up with a name that will also probably stink up the joint and be unpopular with students, administrators and fans.

I still believe DSU should go with something that reflects the history of the community.

For quite some time I thought the school should opt for Pioneers as the nickname for its sports teams. It is fitting, appropriate and does not insult anybody’s sensibilities because, well, we all know about the pioneers who moved westward and the travails they endured.

It is respectful, and it is a positive part of the Southern Utah legacy.

But administrators are getting a little carried away with all of this, saying the new name is also supposed to support themes of active learning and an active lifestyle that administrators say they are aiming for on the campus.


Sounds like they are overworking the problem.

I mean, if you are an Ohio State Buckeye, UCLA Bruin, a Gator or Hurricane, how does that relate to your campus, quality of education and college lifestyle?

If that’s the DSU plan, allow me to suggest the Einstein Rock Climbers or Tesla Hikers. Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me, either.

Sports teams rarely have anything to do with the productive or educational aspects of college. Very few athletic programs actually bring money into their institutions.

Even at the highest levels, winning programs rarely offer the institution, students and fans more than bragging rights.

So, in the grand scheme of things, this is really just a trivial matter that will do nothing more than cost money, anger a significant chunk of the community and confuse most of the others.

Call the DSU teams the Pioneers.

Call them the Bees.

Call them the Raiders, for all I care.

But, let’s not call them an integral part of the school’s “future strategic plan” because that just isn’t so.

If DSU truly is working toward rebranding itself, perhaps it should work on academics first — the real reason why people go to school.

Beef up the programs. Offer a wider selection of majors. Find an area of expertise and build upon it. Find the proper niche.

But, don’t waste valuable time and money — particularly at the present-day cost of consultants — on something as insignificant as a mascot and nickname for the sports teams.

I mean, if this was USC and people were lining up to spend millions upon millions of dollars a year on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and other gear related to the football team, that would be one thing. But this is DSU and its merchandising revenue pales in comparison.

What will happen here, though, is we will endure yet another controversy as the diehards look upon this as an opportunity to reinstate the Rebel imagery, even though school officials promise they will not resurrect old nicknames, and the fight will be on again, mark my words.

Yes, DSU needs to change its mascot and team nickname.

No, they don’t need to hire a bunch of consultants who live a couple hundred miles away to come in and decide what would work best in Southern Utah.

Maybe they will come up with something we can all agree with this time.

Probably, however, all we’ll get is more griping and complaining.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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  • Lastdays October 20, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Now that the school has gotten itself into this “let’s make everyone happy” fiasco, I’m not sure this will ever be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
    How about calling them the “Non-Offender’s” and the mascot could be voted in each year depending on which way the political winds are blowing.
    Or, somebody needs to put their foot down and just say “This is our new name and here is our new mascot, and it’s not changing again”
    But, is it possible for anyone to actually take charge and do that? I think not. Once the door is open to habitual whiners, it can never be shut.
    Good luck with the new name change !

    • 42214 October 20, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Well said. I agree 100%.

    • McMurphy October 20, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Good post. How about “Hand Wringers”? Oh — what to do ? What to do ?

  • old school October 20, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I propose a contest, a grand competition soliciting art and themes from young and old across the land. I believe somewhere there is that perfect solution that will unite the community and just has to be realized

  • sagemoon October 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Right on, Ed.

  • Antoinette Bergin October 20, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Well said, Ed.

  • beacon October 20, 2015 at 10:58 am

    DSU, decide who/what you want to be when you grow up. This wishy washy thing doesn’t look good for the school and many people, including myself, are really tired of it. There’s enough to read about DSU’s activities without having to relive this like Groundhog Day.

    • mesaman October 20, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Really? Maybe you have forgotten the semi-annual name changes of the university to the north; BNS, BAC, CSU, SUSC, and now permanently in place, SUU. But through all their name changes they were faithful to their mascot, The “Thunderbirds”. Want to dig deeper into the reason the name “Red Storm” came to be? It still smells like spoiled fish. As for a new name, my choice is “SORGHUM LAPPERS”. The perfect name for DSU, denotes the past history of sugar cane harvests and the production of sorghum, which became “sorghum lappers, a term used by those of us who grew up in Cedar City to belittle Dixie High School students. The mascot? “The Stinging Nematodes”, a parasite that lives on canes (sugar, maize, and other cane varieties). No PC problems to deal and even liberals
      will have difficulty finding fault with it.

  • BIG GUY October 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Excellent article, Ed. “Pioneers” sounds good to me. You ought to get the consultant’s fee. Donate it to the DSU Media Studies department if you don’t want to keep it. Like you, I opposed using the word “Dixie” in the school’s name and I opposed using a Confederate soldier as the mascot.

    • NotSoFast October 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Why don’t we be totally political correct and do away with anything that may draws fire or potentially limit the Universities contribution line humming?
      Excellent article Ed. (for anyone who really give a crap about the subject). Granted, Big Guy is worried about what someone might label him to be. But the average citizen could car less. Why don’t we just steal the name Redskins from Washington and fire up the BarB Que.

      • BIG GUY October 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        NOTSOFAST, I’m honored. I’ve been called a number of things on this site but never “politically correct.” You are likely the only one who would call me politically correct. I’ll add that to my resume.

        • NotSoFast October 20, 2015 at 7:53 pm

          Everybody has a ‘not me’ in their rational persona. Dixie and the confederate flag you don’t like now, right? Do you see anything wrong with the USC Trojans Horse name? or the UCLA Bruins names? No?
          Wait til next week maybe. The political correct wagon is coming down the street Big Guy. You can laugh at it or Hop aboard.
          The Dixie State University is running out of excuses for not changing the name. Their wringing their hands.

  • McMurphy October 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    For once I agree with Ed. Perhaps DSUs future strategic plan should concentrate less on team names and mascots and more on how to avoid being a defendant in lawsuits.

  • SteveSGU October 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I also have to jump in whenever I find something I agree with Ed about, because such things are few and far between. If the university decides to change the name of its teams, Pioneers would be a good choice. And that particular decision is not very significant.

  • htown October 20, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Pioneers??? Makes me think of Brigham Young and all that goes with him, it could be a step back if we are trying to be ultra PC.

    Lehi has the Pioneers, Springville the Red Devils, the Danites have been used.

    Big quandary to match past, present and future, best of Luck

  • beentheredonethat October 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I must suggest the name be the Downwinders. And the mascot could be a one eyed monster.

  • justcap October 20, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Hey I actually agree with most your article Ed.

    I’m going for the Dixie State Canyoneers.

    • Accountable October 21, 2015 at 9:20 am

      The Canyoneers fits with the active learning and active lifestyle mantra. Love it.

  • Common Sense October 21, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Ridiculous…the best thing to do would be to keep the name. It is tradition! I do like the one eyed monster idea. How about the “Red Desert Gila Monsters”? Pioneers in my opinion would be offensive to people who are not LDS.

  • dumbengineer October 21, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Many athletic teams have a team name name and a mascot name that are the same (ever see the Ohio State “buckeye” wandering around their sideline?). I heard that in the past when the dreaded rebel team name was in use that the mascot was the redhawk. I also heard that there is actually a red hawk that resides in southern Utah. Wouldn’t it be a nice, non-offensive nod to the past to change both the team name and the mascot to redhawk?

  • Proud Rebel October 21, 2015 at 9:11 am

    We need to knock off all this PC garbage. Dixie Rebels is the name we should always be. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to come here. But this garbage of changing things just to please a few trouble makers is totally out of hand.
    Someone who is disturbed about the Rebel name, but chooses to come here anyway, is as intelligent as building your home right next to an airport, then demanding that the airport move. People who do this are ignorant, but the folks who listen to them are much worse.

    • htown October 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      I hear you proud Rebel, Good on You !

  • .... October 21, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    They should call themselves the. I can’t drive bunch. and the mascot should be a tow truck

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