Centennial Perspectives

Spirit & Traditions: BGSU Falcon

The Team Name

On October 28, 1927, the nickname "Falcons" was originated for teams representing Bowling Green State University. BGSU was then a struggling State Normal College but it was already was trying to communicate the idea that it was by then a degree-granting institution. Common nicknames, used by sports writers throughout the state were "BG Normals," "Teachers," and the "BG Pedagogues." The current mascot was suggested by the sports editor of the Daily Sentinel Tribune, Ivan "Doc" Lake, a BGSU graduate. He thought the nickname was fitting because it was indicative of a small but powerful bird, its coloring represented the Bowling Green school colors, and like the athlete, the falcon is a bird that goes through a long period of training before battle.

Falcons at BGSU

Back in the 1960s, for either Parents' Day or Homecoming, Jim Fowler, Marlin Perkins' assistant on the television program "Wild Kingdom," was invited to bring his falcons to Bowling Green. The plan was that he would fly his falcons around the football stadium at halftime and delight the crowd. Before the game, Fowler gave a short lecture and demonstration in the University Ballroom. Everything went well.

To be further assured that the halftime show would run smoothly, Fowler took his falcons for a dry run at the stadium. It was a good thing he did. Falcons, being the flying and fighting birds that they are, attack anything that is airborne. In this case, when released, the falcons began attacking the flags. Certainly, if repeated at halftime, this would not be the aerodynamic spectacle that it was intended to be. Thus, when the audience viewed falcons at halftime, the birds were hooded so that they would not see the flags. So much interest was generated that BGSU soon obtained their own falcons, through funding by groups such as the Alumni and Parents Club. The falcons were kept at a small house on Troupe Street near the studios of Channel 27 (WBGU-TV).

The students who trained and kept the falcons were always distinguishable by their bright orange jackets. The trainers always brought the falcons out on the field during the halftime shows, and sometimes the birds would fly away and become lost. The next-to-last falcon flew away during a demonstration and was never found. The very last falcon was donated to the Toledo Zoo, where it could be kept in style.

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