Today we are continuing our A-Z review of the history behind some team names as part of our 99 Day Countdown to the college football kickoff (I was sick last week and we had to take a few days off).
There are three teams play in the Football Bowl Subdivision that have teams nicknamed Owls, and there is a different story behind how each school became Owls. In every case, it seems that the Owl name seemed a natural selection.
Temple was the first school in the United States to adopt the owl as its symbol. Since Temple University was founded in the 1880’s, the owl has been the symbol and mascot. According to the Temple website, story has it that the owl, a nocturnal hunter, was initially adopted as a symbol because Temple University began as a night school for ambitious young people of limited means. Russell Conwell, Temple’s founder, encouraged these students with the remark: “The owl of the night makes the eagle of the day.”
Nothing but the Owls
In Texas, another school would select the name Owls for their athletic teams from day one. According to the Rice University website, when athletic activities began at the Rice Institute in 1912, the teams adopted the owl from the Rice Institute seal as their mascot. The seal featured Owls of Athena–symbolic of wisdom.. The Athenian owls on the Rice seal were patterned after a design found on a small, silver tetradrachmenon coin dating from the middle of the fifth century B.C. Because Rice University was dedicated to the advancement of “letters, science, and art,” by its founder, these words also were incorporated into the seal. Over the years, Rice’s various mascots have included students dressed in owl costumes, live Great Horned Owls, and large owl statues of fiberglass and of canvas.
The Owls were here first
Florida Atlantic doesn’t have the 100-years of history of either Temple or Rice, The school opened in 1964, and it’s football team has only been playing since 2001, but it’s possible their owls were there first. The presence of the owls on the former air force base that would become the FAU campus was well known, even referenced by President Lyndon Johnson in his speech at the school’s dedication. In 1971, the FAU land was designated a burrowing owl sanctuary by the National Audubon Society. honoring the history of the bird’s presence and moving to protect the owls from attempts to expand construction of the university. To this day, owls maintain a dominant presence on the Boca Raton campus. The feisty bird, traditionally associated with wisdom and determination, has served as the schools mascot since athletics began in the 1980’s.
Only 80 days until college football kicks off!
Our countdown started with the history of different school nicknames:
Friday – Demon Deacons
Saturday – Eagles
Monday – Falcons
Tuesday – Gators
Wednesday – Hokies
Thursday – Jayhawks
Friday – Knights
Monday – Lobos
Tuesday – Minutemen
Wednesday – Nittany Lions