Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
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By Micah Mertes
Say this for Bluejays: It’s easy to spot ’em.
So often they’re showing their school spirit in the form of white and blue apparel — hats, hoodies, T-shirts and even, when occasion permits, neckties or pajama pants.
Since Creighton Athletics’ 2013 rebrand, fans have increasingly sported gear with the Bluejay cradled by a slab-serif “C.”
The current brand has been around long enough it's already woven its way into Creighton’s DNA. It’s also brought a higher level of consistency across all Creighton fashion, including student-athlete uniforms. (Though, as the apparel in Creighton’s bookstore shows, there’s always room for variation.)
Photos suggest our brand began to coalesce into a consistent identity sometime in the ’90s. Over the years, the Bluejay and his capital “C” companion rocked quite a few different looks.
We sifted through several decades of Creighton yearbooks and archive materials to see how our sense of style has evolved over Creighton’s history. The story of our brand is, in a way, the story of the University itself — a small and unassuming bird that slowly grew and grew until it spread its wings and learned to fly.
Let’s kick things off almost exactly 100 years ago, when Creighton basketball uniforms (and their accompanying sweaters) looked like this ...
The jerseys showcased a simple “C” flanked by “B’s.” The socks were, um, high.
Then ... the bird happened. In 1923, the Omaha Bee newspaper ran a contest to name Creighton’s mascot. The winner: a blue jay — a bird known for its bold behavior and blue hue akin to Creighton’s primary color.
The blue jay made its debut in Creighton’s first yearbook, The Bluejay.
By 1930, the bird was everywhere, as shown in this photo of the cheerleading squad. (One design variation — a forward-leaning blue jay perched atop the lower curve of the Creighton “C” — resembles our logo today.)
The men’s basketball team uniforms also celebrated the blue jay as mascot.
For years, Creighton's blue jay was ornithologically correct and anonymous.
But in 1941, the bird got a name ("Battlin’ Bill Bluejay”), an expression (annoyed) and a bold sense of style (no pants).
The bad-tempered Battlin’ Bill Bluejay — at various later times referred to as “The Bluejay,” “Billie Bluejay,” “Billy the Bluejay” and even “William Bluejay” — became a fixture of Creighton apparel for decades.
And long before Creighton got a costumed mascot, a big cardboard cutout of the bird attended various events.
Other versions of Billy popped up over the years. Some unfortunate. In 1955, for instance ….
And 1970. This guy was discontinued after alumni complained. Giving the bird teeth apparently went too far.
But before the 2013 rebrand, no other image knocked the original Billy off his perch. The bird endured, sticking around perhaps as long as any design element in the University’s history.
Even 50 years after his creation, Billy was showing up everywhere, including the side of Public Safety vehicles.
And now, of course, this version of Billy stands six feet tall outside Morrison Stadium, his surly stance and grimace cast in bronze.
Let’s shift gears to the Creighton “C,” a big blue letter that's taken a long time to find itself.
Here it is in the 1920s …
The ’40s ...
‘80s and ’90s
But since 2013, this is the “C” you’ll see most often ...
It’s a confident “C.” Sharp. Forward-leaning. Backed up by a bird ready for whatever the day brings. It’s a logo and an identity Creighton grew into.
Particularly in the transitional period of the ’70s and ’80s, Creighton’s style and iconography showed a tension between old and new, between tradition and novelty.
(The White & Blue Review wrote an excellent account of the Creighton brand’s evolution, if you’re interested.)
The ’70s and ’80s marked an experimental phase for Creighton fashion. Some great designs came out of it.
The ’90s continued Creighton's search for an ideal aesthetic, head to toe.
By the mid-’00s, things started to settle down design-wise.
You’d still see some great one-off shirts.
But as Creighton’s national influence grew — academically and athletically — a consistent brand identity emerged.
All threads led to the core design we know and love today.
But if you’re ever looking to sport something vintage, you’ll find plenty of throwback designs at the Fanatics store.
Bluejays — Do you have any good old Creighton gear you’d like to show off? Send photos of your apparel to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we might feature them in a follow-up.
Linda Lazure, College of Nursing professor emeriti, sent us photos of several T-shirts for the Creighton Child Care Center.