Opinion | Herky’s revamp was a much needed update

The Hawkeyes’ new look was a good call by the UI because it better embodies what Herky represents.

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Grace Smith

Herky gets the crowd excited before a football game between Iowa and Kent State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Golden Flashes with a score of 30-7. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Elise Cagnard, Opinons Contributor


It’s a cool clear autumn night. The Hawkeyes are winning, and you and your fellow classmates are proudly chanting the Iowa fight song underneath the blinding lights of Kinnick Stadium. As the Hawkeyes score yet another touchdown, you watch Herky charge across the field, wildly waving the Iowa flag and hear the crowd erupt in an elated cheer.

This is a cherished tradition that generations of Hawkeyes have participated in, but changes have occurred over the years. Herky finally had a makeover in 2014, and while some fans long for the old Herky back, many favor the newer version.

If you were a student before 2014, you watched the bobble headed Herky with a disproportionate head-to-body ratio sprint across the field. If you were a student after 2014, you saw the toned, masculine version of Herky baring his teeth as he did his victory lap.

Controversy has surrounded the decision to revamp Herky’s image, as it does any issue involving Iowa football.

Herky the Hawk has been a symbol of the university since 1948. After his predecessor, a real-life bear named Burch, was deemed unsuitable to be the mascot after terrorizing the football team on the bus ride to a game, a contest was created to pick Iowa’s new mascot.

Dick Spencer III, a UI professor, came up with the concept from which Herky was born.

He has had slight modifications over the years, but the UI decided to take Herky in a new direction in 2014. His iconic football helmet was removed, he was buffed up, and he assumed a perpetual sneer.

Matthew Kliegl, a second-year student and a member of Herky’s security team, has been a lifelong Hawkeye fan. He has childhood memories of the old Herky, and has a lot of experience with the new one because of his current position.

“The old Herky was a staple to Iowa’s history, and he will be missed,” Kliegl said. “But this new version of Herky much better embodies what Herky’s all about — he’s much more intimidating and that’s what we need in a mascot.”

Nevertheless, some may argue that Herky should not be intimidating because of time he interacts with kids. Who wouldn’t be scared of this oversized, toothy bird coming up to them? Fortunately, this has not seemed to be a problem, and kids adore the new Herky just as much as the last one.

There is much to say about the difference in the mascot’s physical appearance, but on a more practical note, “Herky 2.0” is a much more formidable mascot. The old Herky head weighed about 30 pounds and limited the motion of the person wearing it a considerable amount. With a lighter and more pliant suit, Herky can now be more animated when doing his job to energize the crowd. It can’t hurt that he can now turn his head, as well.

While the old Herky mascot will forever live in the hearts of Hawkeyes, this change was a constructive choice that will lead the Hawks in a new direction.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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