George at a Vanderbilt Basketball Game nearly 50 years ago
Bring Back George Part 2
Back in 2008 I wrote a story about Vanderbilt's Bassett Hound mascot of the past. The "Bring Back George" Campaign gained some heat entering the 2008 year, but when Vanderbilt started the season 5-0 and ranked in the top 20 the excitement turned to the football team and not a mascot. There were plans for shirts with the phrase "Bring Back George" to be created with a Bassett Hound figure on it. I want to bring this campaign back.
The idea of bringing back George happened the year Vanderbilt broke its 25 year bowl drought. Now the Commodores are looking at another bowl run. This would be the perfect time to look at bringing George back. With a fantastic new coach there seems to be a new buzz around the program, so why not bring back an old mascot for a new look on the sidelines?
Here's the story I wrote in July of 2008. I didn't make any changes to it, so keep the part about Vandy not being in a bowl for 25 years has obviously changed.
While Vanderbilt's nickname has always been the Commodores, its mascot during the 1960's was indeed a basset hound named George. Toby Wilt, a Vanderbilt student, routinely brought George to football games and on November 28, 1964, he became a legend by chasing a Tennessee Volunteer mascot, which was a horse at the time, out of the stadium. The Vanderbilt crowd understandably went wild and the Dores went on to win the game 7-0.
George's popularity grew exponentially following his heroic performance. The student booster organization approved George, the fan-favorite who attended all of the Commodore football and basketball games.
The story has it that George actually lived with Wilt at the Sigma Chi house. However, once George became more well-known, he was removed from the house by the Metropolitan Health Department, which didn't approve of a dog living in a fraternity house.
George ended up living in a $300 doghouse after the proposal to build him an elaborate $2,000 home was rejected. Then, in November 1966, George was killed in a tragic accident after chasing an ice truck. He was given a coffin by a local funeral home and supposedly buried in a small plot just north of Dudley Field, which still exists today.
George was replaced by another basset hound, Samantha, but she apparently did not have the "it" factor and Vanderbilt decided to put the basset hound mascot to rest.
The Dores haven't been to a bowl in over 25 years now. The crowds at Vanderbilt Stadium are less than impressive and many times the average attendance numbers are helped by teams like Alabama or Tennessee's fans making the short trip to Nashville. The program tries to bring in some bit of tradition. After each TD you have a foghorn go off and during the pregame you even have some TNT(For Vandy's fight song "Dynamite"). Still the program is lacking a good representative, someone the student body can rally around.
Bring back George!! Those three words should be on every Vandy fans lips. Not only would the school be celebrating a hero of the past that once chased a Tennessee mascot out of the stadium, but it would also be making a smart marketing decision. Basset Hounds have always been one of the most marketable dogs in the United States. For years the shoe company that made Hush Puppies used the basset hound as a mascot. In the Maytag commercials there was often seen a basset hound as a companion of the lonely Maytag Man.
Basset Hounds are also popular figures in pop culture and TV. Who hasn't seen Hazard County's most lovable pup on The Duke's of Hazard, Flash? In "Smokey and the Bandit" the trucker Snowman is seen with a basset hound friend Fred while driving on the road. The cartoon character "Droopy Dog" was a basset hound. Chips, Columbo, Coach, and even the People's Court have featured the breed at various times.
What better way to bring in new revenue to Vandy. Look at all the money Georgia makes off of UGA t-shirts, hats, and stuffed animals. Smokey has made Tennessee plenty of money over the years. The basset is kid friendly and family friendly. The dog has marketing powers unlike most breeds.
Come on Vandy, pay respect to your past and give all of us in the south a new mascot to love. Become the only major university with a basset hound mascot. Only this time go ahead and build the new George that $2000 doghouse he deserves.
My Bassett Hound Flash who we had to put to sleep this summer due to lung cancer