MASCOT SMACKDOWN: Sizing Up University Mascots Blaze and Blu

They’re blue, made of foam, and spirited. But which mascot is the baddest of all?

Tom Giffey

Step onto the campuses of UW-Eau Claire or UW-Stout, and you’re likely to see one of these giant-headed but good-natured creatures. Here’s a rundown:


ALMA MATER: UW-Eau Claire.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Wingless blue and gold man-bird.
REMINDS US OF: One-quarter pre-Columbian bird god, three-quarters Muppet.
ORIGIN STORY: Discovered roosting in Council Oak when university was founded.
OFFICIAL STATUS: Student body mascot managed by the UWEC Student Senate. The university itself has no official mascot, just a disembodied nickname, the Blugolds.
MOST IMPRESSIVE FEAT: His (or her?) mere existence. UWEC has a long and convoluted history of not having a mascot.
PROS: Swift, birdlike movements; opposable thumbs.
CONS: Foam beak largely useless for combat or consuming birdseed.
QUOTE: “There’s some controversy with alumni that want to keep (the mascot) the Blugold spirit, but I think in today’s day and age it is important to be able to point to something and say, ‘That’s what I am.’ ” – Erica Rasmussen, Student Senate Public Relations Commission (The Spectator, Nov. 6, 2013).


DEBUT: 2011.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Broad-grinned blue demon in sweatpants.
REMINDS US OF: Crownless version of old Burger King mascot, but less creepy.
ORIGIN STORY: Arose from the blue flames of a welding torch in a manufacturing tech class.
OFFICIAL STATUS: The real deal. UW-Stout’s teams have long had the “Blue Devil” nickname, but the first official mascot was created just a few years ago.
MOST IMPRESSIVE FEAT: Defeating other Chippewa Valley mascots in an 2014 dance-off at the National Night Out on Crime in Eau Claire. (Seriously, Blaze can break it down.)
PROS: Rumored otherworldly powers; blindingly white teeth distract opponents.
CONS: Freakishly oversized head causes neck irritation.
QUOTE: “Blaze is appropriate. We want our Blue Devil athletic teams to be hot in their sports, so Blaze will fit right in.” – then-Chancellor Charles Sorensen, when Blaze’s name was officially revealed (, Feb. 13, 2012).