Friday, December 16, 2011

Where the term Aggie comes from

Someone on the ESPN message board posed the question of "What is an Aggie?" I've always had a basic understanding that it came from the schools agricultural roots and was kind of just a remnant of this, but out of curiosity, and due to having the day off, I put a little research into this question and found quite a lot of information on what led to students and alumni of Utah State University being known as Aggies and if possible became even a little more proud of the title.

USU was originally founded as the Agricultural College of Utah back in 1888 and they were known as "Aggies." Lots of schools in the late 1800's and early 1900's were known as the Aggies. Oregon State, Nevada, Colorado State and Wyoming to name a few. Most of them changed their names to what they currently are now. The iconic "Old Main" building on campus still wears the original designation of "Agricultural College of Utah" above its doors.

In the 1940's the teams from Utah Agricultural College (slight name update) were called the Farmers and their mascot was a dude in overalls, but many locals still kept referring to us as Aggies and to the school as "The Agricultural College." In 1957 when UAC changed its name to Utah State University they officially adopted Aggies as their mascot, but kept the farmer around for a while.

During 1969, due to concern by administration of not being known for anything special by people outside of Utah, a movement was made to change the mascot to the Highlanders due to the ideological tie of the school's setting being on top of a hill in a mountain valley and the Scotsman song which was a popular tradition among students. During a football game at halftime it was officially announced that the name would be changed to the Highlanders and the student body and alumni alike booed for the remainder of the second half. That idea was quickly bailed on and we remained Aggies. The Scotsman song remains popular with Aggies.

In 1975 the bull first appeared at Utah State. It was actually a live white bull which they painted blue. It was kept around for a while, but despite rubber boots it still occasionally caused damage to the brand new Dee Glen Smith Spectrum's floor. This and the high level of upkeep for a bull which gets painted blue multiple times a month led to it being replaced with a guy in a bull cartoon suit in 1987, but there is a huge statue of the bull on campus which has a student tradition of being ridden naked to earn the title of Ultimate Aggie (yes, I am one.)

Apparently we really like being Aggies. I wouldn't accept being called anything else, even if there isn't much sagebrush left in the valley.

Go Aggies!!

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