It’s been over a decade since the University of Illinois decided to retire Chief Illiniwek, the school’s official mascot and logo. Ever since that time, the Illini haven’t been represented by a mascot.
That could be changing, though.
Over the weekend, the Illini Creative Twitter page tweeted out a photo of a new potential mascot for the university: Alma Otter. The message contained an image of the new proposed mascot in a Fighting Illini basketball uniform.
“Introducing Alma Otter: The mascot Illini Nation deserves,” the tweet read.
— Illini Creative (@IlliniCreative) March 2, 2019
That’s a pretty drastic change for Illinois. But, when you consider the conference already has turtle, gopher, badger and Buckeye mascots, is an otter really all that off base?
While it could be a good alternative mascot for Illinois, the idea has been met with plenty of criticism, including current and former Illini athletes.
This is my dog Moo , not only could he kick that otters butt, he would be a way better mascot for our ILLINI !! pic.twitter.com/1mTK2jYdQr
— BIG ORANGE (@illini1988) March 3, 2019
God I hope Josh Whitman talks some sense into these people. https://t.co/pcJbAnqfLD
— Ryan Easterling (@RyanEasterling) March 2, 2019
Stop it!!!!!! https://t.co/JToiKoMDPz
— James5Crawford_ (@James5Crawford) March 2, 2019
Excuse my language but hell nah bruh 💯👉🏾🚪 https://t.co/IGWVPhpp2j
— Kendall Smith🐉 (@Kendallsmith_23) March 3, 2019
Please stop. https://t.co/ES1ek5MTpU
— Aarman Sethi (@asethi02) March 2, 2019
Uhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah this isn’t it https://t.co/qBxZMiMIX8
— Illini Barstool (@BarstoolILL) March 3, 2019
Just called chief, he said this ain’t it https://t.co/eCe5UEdbis
— Mike Epstein (@Dat26Kid) March 3, 2019
This ain’t it boss
— Chayce Crouch (@ccrouch07) March 3, 2019
— Scott Richey (@srrichey) March 3, 2019
Those aren’t exactly sparkling reviews. While Illinois searches for a mascot, it appears that several folks in Illini Nation would rather have no mascot than Alma Otter.
We’ll see if the otter gains any traction or if it’s caught too much backlash to be a realistic mascot replacement at Illinois.