- 1758: Fort Duquesne was abandoned and replaced with Fort Pitt, named after William Pitt, the Elder, during the French and Indian War. The settlement adjacent the fort was also named for him, and his coat of arms adorns the city’s flag.
- 1787: Pittsburgh Academy founded.
- 1819: The Academy was renamed Western University of Pennsylvania (WUP). The sports teams were nicknamed Wups, predisposing them to frequent screw ups.
- 1909: (photo taken 1920) A year after the final name change to the University of Pittsburgh, students and alumni chose the panther as the new mascot because they were prominent Western Pennsylvania, and because no other school had taken it.
- 1945: The football team flirted with red and white jerseys for one season.
- 1959: If the cartoonish panther logo looks familiar, look no further than the old school Tony the Tiger.
- 1966: (Second photo taken 1920) Pittsburgh forked over $600 to get bits of real panther sent over from Denver for the new mascot costume. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time. The school also switched from private to public status.
- 1967: The booster club donated a live panther cub to replace the costumed one as the official Pitt mascot. Students named him Bagheera after the panther in Jungle Book. I couldn’t find any information on when they switched back to the costumed version, but I’m sure it involved a hospital visit.
- 1973: Awwww yeah! Bring on those funky 70’s, baby. And just like that balding guy, spilling out of his “vintage-not-throwback” t-shirt, Pitt hung onto this look just a liiiiitle too long.
- 1990’s: (photo taken 1995) The Panther stole an identity. He was named Roc the Panther in honor of legendary Pitt player, coach and administrator Steve “The Rock” Petro.
- 1997: Pitt dropped the Pitt abbreviation trying to prove they DO know how to spell their name in full. The also dumped that 70’s color scheme for a traditional blue and gold. Finally, they introduced the “torch cut” Panther logo who apparently didn’t appreciate the torch touch-up.
- 2007: Pittsburgh figured out spelling is tough (just like math class, right Barbie?) and brought back the Pitt nickname that nobody stopped using anyway. The torch cut panther got a polished makeover which smoothed out his personality too, going from roar to yawn.
RIVALS: Traditionally, the Panther scrapped with Dukes and Nittany Lions. Now he stalks Orange, Mountaineers and Fighting Irish. In nature, he’s only threatened by bears, jaguars and dudes selling panther pelts for mascot costumes.
- Originality- (2) George MP Baird, the guy who suggested the name, claimed Pitt was the first to use panther. Does that include all of the puma concolor family: pumas, cougars, catamounts, mountain cats, mountain lions, etc.? Stay tuned to find out…Also, I haven’t found out why Pitt chose blue and gold, but it separates them from all of Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams that took their colors from the city’s flag.
- Presentation- (1) As a logo, the torch cut panther was the pinnacle. As a mascot, Roc’s panther-pelt wearing ancestor(s) looked a lot more like a pissed off panther and a lot less like an irritated, cat-bear hybrid thingy.
- Authenticity- (2) Even though the only panthers left in Western Pennsylvania are the statues all over the Pitt campus, panthers used to roam throughout the Appalachians, and they might even make their way back someday.
- Intimidation Factor- (2) A male panther tips the scale between 115 and 220 lbs. but hunts elk (710 lbs.) and moose (850-1580 lbs.)?!
- Political Incorrectness- (1) This one’s tough: Roc is a predator and is depicted as such; but the live and used-to-be-alive versions have disappeared, something PETA would find pleasing and I, therefore, do not.
- TOTAL- (8) A great showing for the OP: Original Panther.