TOM MILLER: In UND nickname hunt, don't dismiss the strange

Of the many chuckles produced by UND's release of suggested nicknames Tuesday was the inclusion of the submission "Abdominal Snowmen," generating images of Frosty with a six pack.

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Art by Hillary Kempenich, made in response to misspelling of Abominable Snowmen

Of the many chuckles produced by UND's release of suggested nicknames Tuesday was the inclusion of the submission "Abdominal Snowmen," generating images of Frosty with a six pack.

It was just an unfortunate spelling error, you'd think, but it raised a good discussion.

If UND must adopt a new nickname and logo following the Fighting Sioux controversy, why not get weird with it?

Maybe not a strong-cored yeti, like the Abdominal Snowmen would suggest, but don't shy away from the incredibly unique.

It works for minor league baseball and minor league hockey. Oakland A's affiliate-The Vermont Lake Monsters-come to mind. In hockey, the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers has to sell some serious merchandise.


If UND doesn't want to move forward without a nickname, then come up with something you can splash on a baseball hat and sweatshirt and sell nationally.

The top criteria for a new nickname should be that it's distinctly UND's. The stranger the better, I say.

And don't make the unfair comparison to the old nickname and logo. Don't dismiss a new option because it doesn't give off as fierce of a vibe as the Fighting Sioux.

No new nickname will be as widely embraced as the Fighting Sioux, at least at first. Too many strong feelings about the old nickname and its retirement process remain for that to happen.

But let's try to move forward in vetting these new suggestions with an open mind.

At the same time, though, we can shoot holes in most of the popular replacement nickname ideas. Some are blatantly offensive, some subtly offensive and some just won't be embraced by the community or the university's stakeholders.

Aviation related? That won't fly with UND athletics alums.

Flickertails? Might have to stop poking fun at the Gophers by calling them rodents.


Cavalry or Roughriders? That's some touchy history that goes down a path UND is trying to climb out of.

This is no easy challenge for the UND administration and its nickname committee.

But one of the most uttered responses over the years to the idea of a new nickname is this: "I just don't want to be some dumb animal."

I would think the Fighting Roughnecks would fit that request. And who doesn't want a Fighting Roughnecks baseball hat?

More on the UND nickname:

Aviators to Zombies:  UND group begins sifting through nickname ideas

UND releases  potential nickname suggestions

Condensed list of names under consideration


Full list of  names under consideration

Names  not under consideration  (contains profanity, vulgarity, racist terms)

Opinions on the UND nickname:

OUR OPINION:  Frackers, Force, Flickertails, Frost Giants, Flood

BRAD SCHLOSSMAN:  No name remains unique , so stick with UND

TOM MILLER: In UND nickname hunt,  don't dismiss the strange

WAYNE NELSON:  No matter the opposition , UND likely to have new nickname

KARI LUCIN: UND nicknames:  An analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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