CORVALLIS -- Oregon State Athletics Director Bob DeCarolis thought Benny was starting to look a little tired. Not that the mascot wasn't getting enough sleep, it's just that his appearance was getting a little old.
So he thought it was time to reach out to the talented people at Nike based in Beaverton, just 80 miles from the OSU campus, and see about a makeover. But when you partner with Nike, you're not going to get subtle changes, nor will you receive just a little face lift for the mascot head.
They said if we're going to do this, we're going to do it all, DeCarolis said of his original meeting with Nike designers. Beaver head, font, colors. After I gulped, we said 'we're in.'
Two years after seeking out Nike to begin this re branding effort of Beaver athletics, the University and Nike unveiled its latest update and the reviews seem positive. Roberto Nelson from the OSU basketball team was gushing over the football uniforms.
We looked at theirs and were like 'ooh.' Then they (the football players) looked at ours and were like 'ooh'. I don't know if any of them want to walk on to the basketball team to wear these uniforms, but I'm thinking I may have to walk on to the football team to wear those jerseys.
And just like that the target audience had been successfully reached with a direct hit.
This is about the three R's, DeCarolis said. Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. It's worked for their friends in Eugene, so why not give it a spin in Corvallis? The football team will now have three uniforms; orange, black and white along with three new helmets for each of the uniform combinations.
This has been a long process over many years, so to see it come to fruition like this is very neat, said Mike Riley whose relationship with Nike began in 1997 when he first took over the OSU football program. We've been all over the place with different uniforms and fonts for the different teams, he continued, so to have this ability to have some brand recognition is a really big deal.
For Oregon State, aside from Raising Reser to expand and improve the football stadium, it might be the most important thing they've done in years. Go watch an Oregon football game and see if the announcers don't mention the Ducks' uniforms at least five times during a game.
Now, beginning next season, the Beavers will get a mention or two as well. And the young men and women who represent those three R's DeCarolis referred to, will be listening.