- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The mascot for the new Paul W. Bryant High School had to be the Bears, right? The school was named for the famed University of Alabama football coach, nicknamed “the Bear.”

If only things were that easy.

Picking a mascot for the new high school, which opens Thursday in the same city where Bryant led the Crimson Tide for 25 years, became nearly as hard as constructing the $22 million building. A seemingly simple decision stretched out for nearly a year.

The Bears? Scratch that. Race-related legal problems.

The Titans? Already taken in Tuscaloosa.

How about an out-of-the box alternative, like the Huskies? Forget it. Didn’t make sense for a school named for Bryant.

So the school’s teams will be called the Bryant High Stampede, as in a stampede of elephants — a mascot reminiscent of Alabama’s logo with an elephant charging through a red A.

“It all came down to lawyers, copyrights — all kinds of things you wouldn’t think of when picking a mascot for a high school,” said Zaneta Lowe, a spokeswoman for the city school system until recently.

For parents, it was a lesson in the complexity of public schools.

“We never would have thought this would be such a monumental thing,” said Paul Lightsey, co-chairman of Bryant High’s fledging parent association.

A bear was the first choice for Bryant High’s mascot, but a court order in a racial desegregation case from the late 1970s bars Tuscaloosa schools from using any symbols associated with segregation.

One of Tuscaloosa’s old segregated schools had a team called the Black Bears, so the Bears were out at Bryant High.

“That was what made sense, but we just couldn’t do it,” said Dave Ryan, an attorney for the system. “It didn’t even make it to the school board.”

Mr. Ryan said the city school board approved the Titans as a mascot for Bryant High, but it turned out that name already was taken by Holy Spirit High School, a private academy in Tuscaloosa. Try again.

The board also approved the Huskies, as in Eskimos and “mush.” But parents wondered: What does a cold-weather sled dog have to do with Bryant or any other Deep South school? Scratch that one, too.

Parents working with the school’s PTA and booster club wanted a mascot that would have some kind of tie to the Crimson Tide legend, so someone thought of Alabama’s elephant. That led to a stampede of elephants.

With the nickname shortened to the Stampede, Mr. Ryan checked with university attorneys to see if the name and a proposed logo depicting a herd of charging elephants were distinct enough from Alabama’s symbol.

“They don’t want people out buying up Bryant High material and it looking just like theirs and them not getting any royalties,” Mr. Ryan said.

With blue and gold selected for the high school’s colors instead of the university’s crimson shade, Alabama’s trademark attorneys in Washington gave their approval.

The color was one key to getting the university’s OK. “They’re not using crimson and white,” said university spokeswoman Cathy Andreen.

Principal Amanda Cassity, a lifelong Alabama fan, said the school already has sold dozens of BHS T-shirts, many to people who want one because Mr. Bryant is in the name.

There are other perks to being named for Bryant: millionaire businessman Paul Bryant Jr., the coach’s son, will attend an event to begin the school’s first football season, and former Alabama quarterback and Super Bowl winning pro Ken Stabler will deliver the game ball to midfield.

There is one problem, though: Coach Scott Booth plans to use an offense called the Notre Dame box.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide