Thoughts on Purdue Pete's makeover

First off, I apologize for taking so long to post/opine on Purdue Pete's impending makeover.

Forget about league expansion. Big Ten fans love their mascots, and any time changes are made, it qualifies as a big deal.

Why the makeover for Purdue Pete? He's scaring the children.

"Look, I'm the one who gets the phone calls from parents who say that big face scares their 3-year-old," said Morgan Burke, athletic director. "It's been 25 to 30 years since he got a makeover. At some point, the poor old guy has to come into the 21st century."

Purdue has hired designers to give Pete a new look, which the school hopes to unveil before the 2010 football season. The school's official mascot, The Boilermaker Special, remains part of all athletic events.

Some Purdue fans aren't happy about Pete's absence and his impending new look. And while I understand Burke's concern, I don't really blame them.

Is there a huge difference between Pete's determined expression and that of, say, Sparty or Bucky Badger? There are certainly meaner-looking mascots out there, even meaner-looking Pete's.

And he is, after all, a Boilermaker, not known for being warm and cuddly.

"He will always be a mix of serious and humor," Burke said. "That is his spirit and character. This is just an effort to bring him up to speed. I remember in the '70s when he wore a leisure suit. We're not going to do that today."

The history of Purdue Pete shows several versions, including some less scary ones in his early years. Purdue's main challenge with the redesign is to tone down Pete's expressions without alienating fans who probably don't want their beloved figure looking like this or even this.

Teri Lucie Thompson, vice president of marketing for Purdue, said the design process has started. The focus is not so much on props as on expressions.

"It's more about the eyes and the mouth," she said. "He has a very square jaw and kind of cleft chin. Does that stay? The fear could be coming from his eyes. How do you balance that intensity, keep the competitive fire in the eyes, but also make sure there is approachability?"

There's a question that will keep me up at night.

What say ye, Big Ten fans? How should Purdue change Pete's image? Better yet, do you like your favorite team's mascot or wish it were nicer looking or meaner looking?

Good responses will appear in today's mailblog.