San Diego State Aztecs

FULL NAME:  San Diego State University

LOCATION:  San Diego, CA



  • 1427:  The rise of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the civilization that dominated the modern Mexico City region until a couple hundred Spaniard thrillseekers took it all down. 
  • 1897: San Diego Normal School founded.
  • 1921: The school became San Diego Teachers College. They fielded their first sports teams under the nicknames Staters and/or Professors.
  • 1922-24:   The College continued to suffer an identity crisis, calling themselves everything from Balboans to Wampus Cats. They also ditched the white, gold and blue colors of the joint venture between the Teachers College and San Diego Junior College in favor of Saint Augustine High School’s purple and gold. 
  • 1925-27:  (logo introduced in 1978) In 1925, a small group of students and administrators chose Aztecs as the school’s mascot to emphasize Southwestern heritage. Two years later, the student body voted in a new color scheme, scarlet and black.
  • 1935: San Diego Teachers College became San Diego State College.
  • 1941:  “Monty” Montezuma charged into SDSU lore during a halftime show. He’s based on Moctezuma II, the last true emperor of the Aztecs. His visions cost him an empire. His “revenge” costs tourists half their trip.
  • 1969:  Monty Montezuma loaned half of his moniker to some British comedy troupe. And now for something completely different. 
  • 1970’s:  SDSC officially became SDSU after joining the California State University System a decade earlier.
  • 1980’s:   Monty’s logo jumped out of its classic, Aztec depiction to face his foes. Judging by that scowl he tasted his own medicine after a wild night at Senor Frogs.
  • 1997:    Like anyone who spent a decade or so on the crapper, Monty just wanted to run…with and without sharp, flaming objects.
  • 2000:  Whiny student groups finally succeeded in suspending Monty’s reign of terror over their fragile sensibilities, but rumor has it the last straw was his scandalous appearance in a controversial Off-Broadway production.
  • 2001:  While the administration attempted to erase any evidence of Monty Montezuma, they succeeded in erasing any doubt about their lack of intestinal fortitude.
  • 2002:  And from a modern bureaucracy was born…an ancient bureaucrat. Scintillating. Ambassador Montezuma was NOT a replacement for Monty, rather an apology for Monty’s one-sided existence that ignored the cultural, scientific and diplomatic accomplishments of the Aztec Empire. Five minutes into his speech he ran out of material and ritually sacrificed a heckler for mocking his killer headdress.
  • 2003:   Just making Monty disappear didn’t work as well for SDSU as it did for Hernán Cortés. An unofficial version appeared in the stands as soon as the official one was yanked from the sidelines. The student body voted to reinvent Monty as a generic, “Aztec Warrior.” Honestly, even though the move was born of political correctness, an “everyman Aztec” is more desirable than the one that lost them the entire civilization.
  • 2004-present:   (before and after) Aztec Warrior, or catcher for the Angels? Either way, the no longer bare-chested Aztec Warrior became the Buffet Warrior judging by the panza sloshing around.
  • 2010:  Meet Zuma the Puma…uh, oh. SDSU claims he will only be a “secondary mascot” for the kiddies, but AW better keep his eyes out for Jeff Gillooly-types if he knows what’s good for him.    

RIVALS: The Aztecs get diplomatic with 49ers, Cougars, Toreros, and Runnin’ Rebels in the arena. Outside they’re rivaled only by smallpox, monotheism and objective accounts of history. 


  • Aztec Warrior:
  • Originality: (2) While plenty of schools chose warrior mascots of long-toppled, European empires, nobody stayed in North America. Bonus points for thinking better of copying the local high school’s colors, too. 
  • Presentation: (1) Eh, it looks like AW stole props off the set of the Mad Max series. Bring back the flaming spear, even if they did rip it off the Seminoles.
  • Authenticity: (0) I don’t care what the pro-Aztlán crowd says, no scholar puts the traditional home of the Aztecs in SoCal. There were, however, the Kumeyaay: fearsome farmers…beastly basket weavers.
  • Intimidation Factor: (2) Warfare was a religious devotion for the Aztecs, so much so that a captured warrior considered it an honor to be sacrificed by his captors.
  • Political Incorrectness: (2) AW pisses off MEChA every time he hits the sidelines…priceless.
  • TOTAL: (7) Overall, the Aztec Warrior demonstrates the best of compromise over capitulation.
  • Zuma the Puma:  (will never be more famous than Gwen and Gavin’s Zuma, btw)
  • Originality: (0) SDSU miiiiiiight have gotten a point or two had they even tried to play the Jaguar Warrior card…but they didn’t.
  • Presentation: (.5) Well, it DOES appear to be a well made costume that DOES resemble a baby panther…whatever. It still looks like something plucked right off the shelves at Toys ‘Я Us. 
  • Authenticity: (2) Puma’s still roam SoCal, and not just in the San Diego Zoo.
  • Intimidation Factor: (0) Zuma’s not scarin’ anybody.
  • Political Incorrectness: (0) Zuma is the out for future administrations that can’t stand up to Aztec Warrior’s detractors.  
  • TOTAL: (2.5) Don’t be surprised if you look up one day, SDSU fans, and all you see cheering along side you is a Disney knockoff.
  • GRAND TOTAL: (4.75) Life-size plush toys always hurt the average.


11 Responses

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  8. Stu said, on February 8, 2013 at 16:14

    FSU borrowed the Flaming Spear from SDSU after the Aztecs crushed the Seminoles, to wit from Aztec Sports Report: “In addition to writing Gilbert a note, something else Bowden did upon returning to Tallahasse was borrow from SDSU tradition and an electric atmosphere he witnessed that night with 50,543 fans filling what was then named San Diego Stadium.

    The next year Florida State created a pregame tradition with Chief Osceola, a Seminole Indian, riding Renegade, an an appaloosa horse, and planting a spear in the turf to the roaring approval of Doak Campbell Stadium’s fans.

    “We got that idea from San Diego State,” Bowden said. “I remember we came out of our dressing room and saw (the Aztec Warrior mascot) in a sarong with a flaming spear. It was very inspirational.”

    “My wife (Ann) was with us on the trip, and we decided we needed to do something like that. That’s where we got the idea to get the crowd riled up. Oh, gosh, that’s one of the best pre-games in college football.”

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  11. Gary Rather said, on July 22, 2011 at 17:09

    Excellent. Well done and pretty much right on the money. One correction though. Florida State ripped off the flaming spear from San Diego State.

    I have heard Bobby Bowden say it in interviews. Florida State came out to San Diego to play the Aztecs in 1977. Florida State was #13 and the Aztecs were around #20. Both teams were 9-1. After “Monty Montezuma” came out of the tunnel with his flaming spear and scared the hell out of the Florida State players, the Aztecs went on to crush the Seminoles (approx) 47-17.

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