Monday, February 04, 2013

Seal Block: Special ohio Unit

Land-Grant Holy Land is reporting that ohio is updating their athletic logo and their official seal and, in the words of Luke Zimmerman, this "ruins everything." As the sports blogosphere's leading authority on university seals, we can't let this change go unremarked. Let's take a look at the old and the new:

Image modified from Land-Grant Holy Land.
So there is one big change and one big no-change. The big no-change is simple: this was the time to get rid of the small caps and put "THE" on equal footing with the rest of the university name. If you insist on calling your school "The Ohio State University," why wouldn't you make your seal say it? Just shift that ribbon down a little and you've got room.

The big change is something that should be problematic for any academic institution. The circular O on the shield has been replaced with the Block O that has signified ohio's athletics since 1958. That's the tail wagging the dog. It's not just something Mark Emmert says to himself to feel better at night, it's actually true: academics come first. Among other FBS schools, only TCU, East Carolina, and Rice have obvious links to their athletic team names on their official seals, and Rice in particular is forgiven because Owls are a well-established symbol of wisdom. (We're even forgiving ohio the buckeye leaf. It predates the athletic department.)

Last year's failed University of California System rebranding failed because the new logo was both modern and dated: it looked like it was made around 2010, and if it had been permanently adopted, it would look like it was made around 2010 a hundred years from now. Having an obviously dated seal isn't necessarily horrible - when we ranked the seals of the Big Ten, Purdue's 1960s-style seal had a modest amount of support - but it's not as good as a well-established classic. Even if classics are the best, a new seal can still have a timeless feel: Memphis's recent rebranding (warning: PDF) is a great example of a well-designed new university seal.

But seriously, ohio, you can't put your athletic logo on your official seal. This supports every stereotype you hear in Ann Arbor. That ohio only cares about winning The Game and mucking Fichigan and, in order to do that, they'll let their athletic department run roughshod over the university to the point that it actually changed the official seal. If you want to update the seal, just add some color: put in some scarlet and gray to replace the pencil shading. Be a university your athletic department can be proud of.

As for your hideous new athletic logo and wordmark: we have no particular opinion on that. We're a Michigan blog. As far as we're concerned, all your athletic designs are hideous.

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