The final College Football Playoff National Championship of the four-team era will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday night, with kickoff between top-ranked Michigan and No. 2 Washington set for 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Naturally, we’ve decided to take a look back at the logo and nickname history of both programs, which are looking to capture their first national championship this century, with the Huskies sharing the title in 1991 and Wolverines doing the same in 1997.
Unsurprisingly, Michigan’s nickname is the result of a border dispute with Ohio, known as the “Toledo War.” While the two sides argued over where the state line would be placed, Michiganders were called “wolverines.”
It’s unclear if this was something the Michigan natives called themselves to show strength and tenacity or if Ohioans chose the nickname to reference the ferocious and greedy habits of a wolverine, but that’s how the state got its nickname.
When the university moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1837, it also adopted the wolverine as its nickname. Michigan briefly had live mascots in 1927, which were obtained from Alaska, held at the Detroit Zoo and brought to Michigan Stadium on game days.
The animals were ultimately too aggressive to be brought to the stadium, so all but one were returned to the Detroit Zoo. One – named “Biff” – remained at the campus zoo, but it’s not clear how long he survived.
As for their logo, the Wolverines’ Block “M” dates back to 1907, when fans formed the letter in the stands at Ferry Field by holding up newspapers. Demand for apparel with the Block “M” skyrocketed and the university adopted it as their logo.
Meanwhile, Washington’s athletic programs had two unofficial nicknames, including the Indians and Vikings, when they adopted the Sun Dodgers as their official mascot following a student election in 1920.
The nickname was replaced with Huskies just two years later because most people believed it had no particular meaning, was an untrue reflection of the Pacific Northwest and was not easily cartooned.
The reasons for Huskies included its easy characterization, fit in newspaper headlines and how it captured the true spirit of Seattle, known as the “Gateway to Alaska” since the Alaskan Gold Rush.
Washington’s original logo depicted a smiling child with an umbrella, which doesn’t exactly highlight the Sun Dodgers nickname. The rest of its logo history is easily identifiable, though, with different variations of a husky and the modern Block “W.”