So long, smirky Herky.
Your days are numbered, dear mascot. In a politically-correct, kinder and gentler society, you are one angry bird. We can't have that.
Thank goodness for University of Iowa Professor of Pediatric Medicine Resmiye Oral, a voice of reason in the sea of testosterone that is college football.
Oral is making news this week by conducting an email campaign to rid Hawkeyeland of its fierce tiger hawk (what a fascinating mating experience your parents must have had) and its nasty fixed sneer.
"I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages," she writes. "Herky's angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community."
Pardon me while I look up "aggressivity," but I think she's trying to say that this bird is ruffling people's feathers.
The prof told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that she "has been concerned for some time with the lack of emotional variety" displayed by old Herk.
In your defense, Herky, your face is made of fiberglass, which makes change of expression problematic.
But, hey, it's all about positive nonverbal communication these days. Go for warm and whimsical, pal.
Our sensitive prof wants the Faulty Senate to realize that Herky, as portrayed in posters around campus, fails to represent the "nonviolent, all accepting, nondiscriminatory messages" U of I is trying to convey.
So don't let the screen door hit you in the tail feathers on the way out.
Why ARE you so angry, Herky? Looks like he's passing a kidney stone maybe, or perhaps just found out what tuition is going to cost him when his little chicks grow up and apply to med school.
As we all know, football is a calm and mannerly sport played by kind gentlemen who are primarily concerned with welcoming their opponents gently to the field of competition.
We don't need a bird with an attitude sending the wrong kind of messages! Turn that frown upside down, Mr. Herky.
One doesn't have to look far for an example of how football mascotry should be handled. Over at my alma mater in Ames, Cy seems soft and contented, huggable even. And our unofficial anthem is "Sweet Caroline" - one couldn't ask for more civility than that.
Mascoting is harsh business. You may recall when poor, moon-headed Brutus Buckeye was attacked by Ohio's maniacal brute Rufus the Bobcat. Barbaric!
Newspapers opined that bodyguards should be hired for sports mascots to protect them from out-of-control vigilante icons from rival teams. Really.
Herky, you've fallen in with a bad crowd. It's time for some tough love.
The Hawkeyes need a mascot that can't possibly offend anyone. A butterfly maybe, or a rainbow unicorn. Step aside, bird. Don't be a jerk, Herk.
While we are at it, let's get rid of that aggressive-sounding fight song and replace it with "Kumbaya," or perhaps John Denver's "Sunshine on my Shoulders." A nice salmon pink or bridesmaid seafoam for the football uniforms would be more calming. We should plant some flowers around the field and do yoga at halftime.
I see where dozens of sports franchises - pro, college and even high schools - are currently employing designers to come up with tougher, scarier characters and logos. According to a cultural anthropology egghead, studies find that potential fans are drawn more to warlike characters than friendly ones. In fact, cars with fierce front grills sell better than ones in which people perceive happy faces.
The Philadelphia 76ers have even ordered up a seething, enraged Ben Franklin mascot to patrol courtside. A murderous Franklin. Hmm.
Now that the professor has opened our eyes, we realize football itself is clearly contributing to societal violence. I just saw a gang of camp fire girls put a flying chop block on an elderly nun the other day. They all had full-body tatts.
Badminton would be a less aggressive sport for the U of I to engage in. A Scrabble team would be a better influence on children. Spin the Bottle would be a nice, friendly sport.
In the meantime, all of these ferocious animals, vegetables and minerals running around our college sports fields need an intervention. Sensitivity training. Anger management. Conflict resolution. Hug it out.
On a serious note, I looked up the good professor on the U of I website. She seems like a lovely human being. Trained in Turkey, where violence is a real fact of life. And I see she runs a child abuse clinic in addition to her medical work. If you had to see what this woman has seens, you would be damn sensitive to anger and violence, too.
Herky, you'll probably survive the challenge. But you had better watch your step, fella. The good Professor Oral will be keeping her eye on you.
Because one bad bird can spoil the whole bunch.