The first season for San Diego State Aztecs football at Snapdragon Stadium has come and now has gone. In what has now been built as the sports hub for all things football and futbol, the stadium is undoubtedly a huge success.
The primary use for SDSU Aztecs and secondary uses for both San Diego Wave FC and San Diego Legion are surely raising up the profile of all the sports they perform in regionally.
Local high school recruits visited Snapdragon Stadium each Saturday and the love has been visible all over social media.
The most recent CIF San Diego Championships are also evidence of the phenomenal impact this new $310 million dollar SDSU facility can have in each San Diego community.
But it’s no secret the performance of the stadium this inaugural season was unfairly criticized. In early September the hottest Aztecs game to have ever been played kicked things off when SDSU hosted Arizona.
That first day left an impression that stuck with the fans the rest of the season. Coupled with a tough but fascinating year on the field, the atmosphere began to take form as the team also did—very slowly.
The devaluation of the game ticket added together to bring the goal of filling all the seats much more difficult than expected. With a not so full stadium environment it’s only natural that the eyes are then focused on the entertainment value that is being presented.
Not every year played in this new San Diego landmark will be a 12-2 outcome. For those lean years that may come, that is when the tradition and pageantry of College Football must kick in and take center stage.
Marching bands, cheerleaders, dance teams, majorettes and mascots are some of the elements that make collegiate athletics so wonderful. The sights & sounds either create culture for the University or tap in to the culture of the community around them to bring the faithful together in a fun and entertaining way.
For 100 years SDSU has been building their football culture and only recently made the decision to part ways with one of the most fan friendly elements of it—the mascot.
In 2019 under the unilateral decision of President Adela de la Torre, SDSU ended the use of an Aztec Warrior/Monty Montezuma mascot & representation after 88 years of service.
The move was largely criticized but lacked in any real repercussions against the University decision to side with the changing of today’s culture. The years of using live human representation as mascots seem to be over—specifically when depicting that of any ethnic or indigenous tribe or civilization.
Agree or disagree with the move, the one conclusion that all SDSU fans and alumni can agree on is that the retirement left an open job that has yet to be filled. Promises of creating new Aztec iconography and symbolisms to fill the void left by the Aztec Warrior have yet to be seen.
This leads Sons of Montezuma to ask the question of Aztec Nation … Should SDSU bring back a mascot? More directly should SDSU bring back Zuma?
The First Go Round
In 2010, the character — a jaguar — was designed to entertain children at SDSU football and basketball games. But some fans detested Zuma, calling it an embarrassment to the school and SDSU’s “real” mascot — the Aztecs.
The furry feeline was quickly judged as a BYU knockoff and was attacked by leaders in the fanbase. Reports to the administration swelled up and unofficially had the lovable sidekick to Monty Montezuma booted away after only two years.
But now after ten years of this dismissal, is it possible that SDSU fans had it all wrong from the start?
Dress For Success
SDSU is seeking to step up their athletic brand in many different levels. The largest would be joining a Power-5 conference. The PAC-12 or BIG12 are the most attainable in this latest round of expansion currently happening.
The move especially to the regional no brainer PAC-12 would mean an increased dedication to marketing, performance, fan engagement and of course, revenues.
With such a unique, exciting, and vibrant representation as the Aztecs, one only needs to look at the peers of the PAC-12 to gain some insight as to what should be done with this all important mascot decision.
Every single institution represented in the 12 team conference has a furry, cuddly and relevant mascot for their teams. Wether it’s the Bruin of UCLA, Beaver of Oregon State, or Buffalo of Colorado, the uniforms worn are on par with that of a Disneyland production.
The only example of a live human representation is that of USC’s Trojan. However Tommy Trojan is also joined in compromise with Traveler his trusty horse, and also a costume mascot with a cartoon creation of the Trojan to be kid friendly.
Smart thinking by USC administration to find a compromise of the two styles. Could this be an option for SDSU? Only the powers that be can decide that.
One thing is for sure, this is not some unattainable mission for such a successful leadership that has reached across all political factions in San Diego County to get a stadium built that was once considered impossible.
Two Sides to An Aztec Warrior–The Eagle and the Jaguar
Ideas of dragons, quetzals and other iconography for SDSU’s spirit leader are great for exploration, but the answer is not that mysterious. The Aztecs themselves have already given us the answer.
By all signs, the human Aztec Warrior is not making a comeback any time soon. But when you consider the historical facts of ancient Mexica culture, the Warrior was represented in two animal distinctions.
Either a Jaguar or an Eagle represent the warriors in battle. Though SDSU fans may not want to face this reality—Zuma, if repurposed and executed correctly, can have a perfect fit. But it’s got to be done right.
If the mascot decision going forward is not a more historically stylized Zuma 2.0, then it is the Eagle which is the next model to aim for.
As glorious of a new home as Snapdragon Stadium is, if the in game environment is going to improve, ultimately it is up to us—the supporters. It’s time to make the call to have our mascot culture back.
It is time to bring back our mascot.