After several years of being nickname-less, as dictated by the NCAA, the University of North Dakota is trying to decide on a new nickname for its athletic programs.
UND was stripped of Fighting Sioux by the NCAA and after having satisfied its nickname moratorium period has now accepted suggestions on the new name.
As written by Sports Illustrated, the consulting firm directing the transition published a list of approved suggestions, which can be viewed here. I've reviewed this list and have some favorites. I definitely favor nicknames that lean heavily toward things locally unique to the university or the state, and are also unique in the sports world. When you have an opportunity to be unique, don't pick something like "Wildcats."
This submission checks every important question on the list. Historically significant? Check. Keeps ties to former Sioux nickname? Check. Unique to the state? Check. Unique in the sports landscape? Check! Sounds cool? CHECK!
Seriously, North Dakota Badlanders is pretty bad ass.
Aside from the auditory euphonia, it works in every other way, too. The badlands is an area now found within North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park that contains unique, awesome, and bizarre rock and land formations. It is named such from the Lakota's mako sica, meaning bad land. So not only is it a super-unique name for the state, it connects the school to the indigenous people so many alumni and fans wish to honor.
Get. This. Done. Yesterday.
2. North Dakota
The number-one suggested nickname by the public was to stay without a nickname. Many fans feel that if they can't have Fighting Sioux, they want nothing -- pages and pages worth of submissions were turned in for this sentiment.
To be honest, being without a nickname is kind of cool. The school now has a unique and fairly strong brand: the name of the state, and the interlocking ND symbol.
Other suggestions were Aeros and Pilots, but Aviators is the best of the bunch suggested as a nod to UND's top-notch flight program. (Pilots is also used by Portland.)
Sodbusters was the name given to the pioneers who first inhabited the area, so it carries a similar historical significance as 49ers does to California. It's a great, unique way to connect to the state's past and does sound pretty cool as well.
One submission that appeared several times was Roughnecks, the slang term for someone who works on an oil rig, of which North Dakota is rich.
This is for the strong military history and presence in the area. And as one submission read, "Fighting Sioux was great. But let's face it, ultimately the US Calvary won." I'll just leave that there without comment.
Flickertail is the commonly used nickname for the Richardson ground squirrel and North Dakota is often called the Flickertail State. This is also the original nickname of UND's athletic programs before changing to Sioux in 1930. Though I feel there are many better choices, I wouldn't be surprised if this nickname is chosen. It's the easy way out.
Bison Slayers - I just had to include this because I appreciate the gusto and straightforwardness of the person who submitted it. North Dakota State is the Bison? Let's be Bison Slayers.
Frackers - Many fans and members of the public used this opportunity to participate in the process as a way to mock being stripped of Fighting Sioux. Fracking is a controversial method of harvesting natural gas, but as one person wrote, "A generic mascot that shouldn't offend anyone because it does not denote race, gender or culture in any way." Fracking occurs at a decently high rate in the state, but I'm guessing choosing this option would result in another nickname recall in the future.
Nodaks - Nodak is a colloquial term used in reference to the people of the state, and this choice was often presented as an option to keep the current colors/branding and only kind of choose a new nickname, but not really. (The "yeah we picked one but barely" alternative to staying nickname-less.)