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100 Day Sun Devil Football Countdown To Kickoff, #98: ASU Mascot History Before Sparky

Before we take a closer look at our beloved mascot, Sparky, we must look back in time. Long ago, in 1885, Tempe Normal School was founded as a teacher's college for the territory of Arizona.

The school became involved in athletics in 1891, when baseball was the first organized sport recognized by Tempe Normal. Football soon followed in 1896, with women's basketball deriving its roots from 1899.

During the first few years, the teams that represented the school were referred to as the Normals. By the late 1800s, the school changed its mascot to the Owls (NOTE: There is some disagreement amongst online sources as to the exact dates. ASU Libraries never mention the Owls moniker, while the ASU athletic department indicates that the school went by Owls from 1889 to 1922).


In the early 1920s, alumni of Tempe Normal School wished to improve the quality of education and give more students the opportunity to attend higher education.

In that decade, Tempe Normal School became the Arizona State Teacher's College, and the school adopted the Bulldogs moniker.

This truly wasn't a bad idea: consider that Yale University's mascot is the bulldog, any attempt (even if coincidental) to align Arizona State Teacher's College with the highest caliber of higher education was a respectable aim.

From 1922 to 1946, Arizona State was known as the bulldogs. In this timeframe, the Bulldogs were a member of the Border Conference, which included Arizona, NAU, Texas Tech, UTEP, New Mexico, NMSU and two other small colleges in Texas.

In 1946, everything began to change for the better. Next Thursday, we'll talk about the origins of our beloved Sparky the Sun Devil and take a look at how he has changed over the years.

See the previous entries on House of Sparky's 100 day countdown here.