Sparky the Sun Devil occupies a special spot in the hearts of ASU fans. On March 1, Arizona State and Disney revealed a brand new version of the mustachioed Devil, and the response was not a positive one.
In our unofficial poll, 2015 of 2628 responders said they did not like the new design, and our comments section incldued mentions of an "atrocity" and that it was "simply awful" -- and those are the G-rated responses.
Over the past several weeks, a vocal faction of the alumni base has continued to rage against the donning of a new Sparky mask, and it appears as though their voice has been heard.
The first word on the subject came from ASU Undergraduate Student Government president Mark Naufel, who posted the following release on Facebook:
I am pleased to announce that the voice of students and alumni has been heard. On March 1st, the University released an updated version of the costume for Sparky the Sun Devil. Since that announcement there has been a large amount of feedback from the Sun Devil Community. In order to make sure that the voices of students and alumni are heard, the university is developing an online program that will allow Sun Devils to pick the features of the new costume's head and face. For example, the program will offer a choice between maroon and black horns, different sizes and shapes for the eyes, face shape choices that include a less prominent chin, and options for the moustache and goatee. All features offered will be consistent with the identity of Sparky. This program is planned to be available from April 22nd to May 5, 2013. After an online vote, the university will tabulate the results and reveal the fans' choice for the costume on Sept. 5, 2013. Please be on the look out for ASU's official press release at 2pm. GO DEVILS!
A little after 2 PM on Tuesday, Arizona State University released some specifics, noting that most of the vitriol was directed at Sparky's new head. Now, ASU will ask for help in fixing the problems caused by the March 1 unveiling.
"Sparky is one of the best-loved mascots in collegiate athletics," said Rocky Harris, senior associate athletic director for external relations. "The university is proud that so many people are passionate about him. We have listened and now we want to give members of the Sun Devil nation the opportunity to provide their input on some of the costume's features."
Like president Naufel mentioned on Facebook, there will be many facial options available to the fanbase, and every Sun Devil fan will get a vote on the combination that they like the best.
The release went on to say the following:
"Sun Devils will be asked to choose their preferred features and submit their selection to the university. Each person will be able to vote once. The university will tabulate the results and reveal the fans' choice for the costume on Sept. 5, 2013, at the first football game of the season. If there are close calls between some of the features, the university may present a set of three to five combined images for final review and selection."
Now that the Sun Devil will change to be closer to what alumni and fans want to see, what is next? Will the alumni base rally against half-empty basketball arenas and underwhelming turnouts to late season football games? Will donations skyrocket as a sign of goodwill towards an athletic program that invariably relies on alumni contributions? Clearly ASU doesn't want to upset this influential group.
Your move, Sun Devil Nation. You've shown you're capable of so much -- the time has come to take that potential and go to the next level as a fanbase.