Hawks, dogs, ‘daks’ and WAR in UND nickname race

The University of North Dakota has whittled its humongous list of potential new nicknames down to seven to replace the nickname that must not be named.

None of the remaining names will light a fire beneath you, but since we’ve covered this issue for a long time, we’re compelled to find some clever (at least to us) approach to ranking them.

How about WAR?

Baseball geeks love Wins Above Replacement, the statistic that seeks to calculate a player’s contribution to his team compared to what the team would have received from a “replacement value” player, a bench guy. As Fangraphs notes, a 6 WAR player in a year might be “at least an All-Star level player and potentially an MVP.”

So — with no data whatsoever and only a little forethought — here’s our look at the remaining UND nicknames and their worth in WAR.

Sundogs. +2.3 wins. Feel good opportunities. A headline writer’s dream as long we don’t go down the “dawg” road. Lots of plush toy potential here.

North Stars. -3 wins. A disaster waiting to happen. Even in victory, North Dakotans will think of Minnesota and Minnesotans will think of Norm Green moving the NHL North Stars to Dallas.

Nodaks. -0.4 wins. Not bad, and a little punchy, but still not worth a replacement level nickname. You can imagine people yelling “Let’s Go Nodaks!” and then looking around as if to ask, “Is that right?”

North Dakota. 0 wins. This is the classic replacement value player who’s basically holding his own. Cheap to acquire and reasonably useful. But, man, you’ll never make the papers with this guy.

Green Hawks. +1 win. Hawks aren’t green. We know this. But green is the only color here that gets you some wins above replacement. Red Hawks? Maybe, but what’s red in North Dakota? Black Hawks? Uh, let’s not go there.

Roughriders. +3.5 wins. A not-so-subtle nod to Teddy Roosevelt, but that’s OK. He started out sickly but ended up a tough guy, sort of. And he liked North Dakota, which, you know… Big plus here is the potential to borrow the Washington Nationals’ Teddy Roosevelt costume.

Fighting Hawks. -.5 wins. Look, if they’d come up with the Fighting Green Hawks, we’d be impressed. But every team that doesn’t seem to know what to call itself comes up with a lame name and sticks fighting in front of it. We can learn a lot from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. They don’t call themselves the Fighting Iron Pigs. You know why? Because once you have a name like Iron Pigs,  you don’t need anything else. Also, Iron Pigs don’t fight. They just stand there, being iron and all. Now, the Iron Hawks? The Oil Hawks? The Potato Hawks? We’d be on to something with those names. That said, the Fighting Potato Hawks would kill.

Thanks to Bob Collins, Mr. NewsCut himself, for the Fighting Hawks analysis. That guy knows how to write.

Update 9:49 p.m. I was at a gathering tonight and a UND student gave me THE nickname: The Explorers.  That’s +5 WAR, approaching nickname MVP.