Zip Go The Zippers!
Nicknames of college football teams tend not to stray very far from the usual animal suspects – the lions, the tigers, the bears. Even NCAA Football recently published that the 'Bulldog' is the most commonly used nickname in Division I.
With that in mind, it's not very hard to guess the number of schools that share a nickname with The University of Akron.
For the first time in over a decade, UA will don a newly designed helmet dedicated to one of the most unique nicknames in college athletics – the Zips – who were once called Zippers.
In the summer of 2002, Akron released its most updated family of logos, which includes the 'A' roo-head that most fans and recent alumni are familiar with because it is the mark that has appeared on Akron's gold helmets for the past 11 seasons.
The image to the right is a close-up version of the graphic adorning the Zips' football helmets for tonight's game. Revealed on the inside of the zipper is The University of Akron fight song, a point of pride for all of UA's athletic programs on campus.
Zips football unveiled the special edition helmet design to honor the roots of the nickname that run deep in the city of Akron and extend throughout Northeast Ohio. Originally Zippers, athletics director Kenneth "Red" Cochrane officially shortened the nickname to the Zips in 1950. Twenty-five years earlier a campus-wide contest had been conducted to choose a nickname for the University's athletics teams.
Suggestions submitted by students, faculty and alumni included Golden Blue Devils, Tip Toppers, Rubbernecks, Hillbillies, Kangaroos and Cheveliers. After a three-way vote – one by the student body, one by the University lettermen and one by the local sports writers and faculty representatives – the winner was decided on January 15, 1926.
The winner, freshman Margaret Hamlin, suggested "Zippers" the name of a very popular rubber overshoe (over 500,000 sold the first year) invented by Akron's B.F. Goodrich Company. She received a prize of $10 for the winning suggestion, which was inspired by the $6 pair of rubber shoes, the "Zipper Boot." Permission to use the name was granted by the Goodrich Company.
Goodrich introduced its rubber galoshes in 1923 and it made a lasting impression on the world. The footwear featured an ingenious invention, a slide fastener with interlocking metal teeth. With a quick pull of a tab, the overshoes opened wide or sealed shut.
The product's original suggested name was the "Mystik Boot," but the name just did not work for Goodrich President Bertram G. Work.
''What we need is an action word,'' he told a group of sales representatives. ''Something that will dramatize the way the thing zips.''
From that he said, "Why not call it the Zipper?''