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What's a griffin?

Jenna Johnson

The College of William and Mary introduced the world to its new mascot Tuesday. But what is it?

Is it an eagle? A lion? Some weird hybrid that emerged from a research lab?

Um, it's a Griffin -- you know, the mythical creature with the head of an eagle, the body of a lion and the athletic prowess of both.

"With its arrival, we now have a mascot that unites strength with intelligence, recalls our royal origins, and speaks to our deep roots in American history," said William and Mary President Taylor Reveley.

Long ago, William and Mary ditched the nickname Indians and its American Indian mascot. They adopted the nickname the Tribe -- which it will continue to use. The NCAA forced the university to abandon its use of feathers in 2006.

For about four years, the university had an unofficial mascot, a green blob named Colonel Ebirt (tribe spelled backwards, get it?) but he retired in 2005.

Wednesday morning, #tribemascot was trending in the D.C. area on Twitter as people debated and commented on the new mascot. Some of the tweets:

@WMSchoolofBiz I wonder if the Griffin was chosen as the #tribemascot to retain the use of feathers?
@thelashore I hope whoever is in the #tribemascot realizes that yesterday is the sweetest smelling it will ever be!
@JustSchoon Disappointed when I heard that the griffin was selected as the new #tribemascot. But after seeing the costume, it's growing on me...
@AestheticOcto still wish #tribemascot was Robot Lady GaGa. not sure why they didn't even consider that nomination...
@jkmcgo the griffin? really? ... i still vote they bring back ebirt. and the feathers. #tribemascot

Last year Reveley appointed a mascot committee made up of alumni, students, faculty and staff to find a mascot that could be a unifying, fun figure on campus, but still looked good on T-shirts and costumes.

Five finalists were announced in December: the griffin, the king and queen, the phoenix, a pug and a wren.

Then the public had a chance to voice their opinions. More than 11,000 people completed a mascot survey and the committee reviewed more than 22,000 mascot comments. And a mascot Web site received more than 47,500 visitors.

The committee even heard from Ebirt the green blob, who was featured in a YouTube video and assured Tribe faithful that he had no plans to leave retirement.

What do you think of the new mascot?

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By Jenna Johnson  |  April 7, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags: William & Mary  
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My guess is that the Griffon was chosen because a roller coaster of the same name resides in nearby Busch Gardens, where a number of William and Mary students work part time.

Posted by: Russtinator | April 7, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The selection of a Griffen mascot is an embarassment. It has NOTHING to do with the nickname Tribe. Most people don't even know what it is and will require some long-winded, geeky explanation of what it is and its tenuous relationship to W&M. Leave it to a geeky school to come up with a geeky athletic mascot. This is something Napoleon Dynamite would've come up with.

Posted by: rjwhit | April 7, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

1 - If you don't know what a griffin is, then you're not W&M caliber.

2 - If you can't spell griffin, despite the fact that the word is repeatedly written on the page above, please refrain from making snide comments.

Posted by: mgmcca2115 | April 7, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The griffin is already the mascot of another geeky (and proud) school: Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

I guess it's ok if W&M would like to share, but they could at least acknowledge the encroachment.

Besides, Northwestern Missouri State claims the griffon as its mascot; Sarah Lawrence, the gryphon. So W&M is not exactly breaking new ground here -- nor it the griffin all that terribly obscure.

Posted by: serena1 | April 7, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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