‘Bucky’ taking over as face of Charleston Southern athletics | Colleges

In April of 2019, Charleston Southern unveiled its latest version of “Bucky”, the swashbuckling Buccaneer who represents CSU sports and has undergone something of an evolution over the years.  

“It’s a fresh look and something exciting,” CSU athletic director Jeff Barber said at the time. “I think it’s something that will be really good for us.”

On June 30, Charleston Southern announced that it will transition toward using the three-colored “Bucky” as the primary logo of CSU athletics, replacing the crossed cutlass that has also been in use. 

The Bucky head will be featured on uniforms, apparel and other inventory over the coming years, the school said. CSU also plans an increased emphasis on consistency in brand presentation, and Bucky will feature prominently on the new turf being installed at Buccaneer Field in time for the 2021 season.

“In the past few months, we’ve gotten so much response from ESPN and other people wanting to use the new logo,” said Barber. “It has just really taken off to an extremely high level, more than we ever thought it would.

“Our coaches wanted it for their uniforms and everything, and we just felt like it was the right thing to do, to go ahead and make Bucky our primary logo. It has just kind of taken over and been a good thing for the Buccaneer family.”

For fans of the crossed cutlass, it will remain in circulation as an alternate look and will be featured on special occasions, the school said.

The Citadel announced a refreshing of its “Bulldog” brand earlier this year. 

At Charleston Southern, students of the old Baptist College (which became CSU) pretty much decided the school’s mascot when they showed up at the first basketball game in 1965 (at College of Charleston) wearing eye patches, bandanas and earrings.

“They were waving swords and holding signs that said ‘Buccaneers,’” the late Howard Bagwell, the school’s first athletic director, said in the school’s 1991 yearbook. “And ever since that fateful night downtown in 1965, we’ve been the Buccaneers.”

“Bucky” has been the face of CSU athletics since then, undergoing several iterations over the years.

The oldest known Bucky, dating to 1968, clenches a cutlass between his teeth. A 1970 version shows a pensive, youthful Bucky gripping what could be a light saber. By 1978, Bucky looked like the most interesting Buccaneer in the world.

Charleston Southern Bucky 1968

Charleston Southern’s “Bucky” as he appeared in 1968. Provided/CSU Athletics 

The latest Bucky was introduced by Barber in 2019 as a way to refresh the CSU brand. For the new Bucky, Barber wanted a look that hit the “sweet spot” between friendly and intimidating.

“Not something from a cartoon, but at the same time not scary or nefarious so that it’s a problem for kids,” he said at the time. “You want to find a balance between those two things, and it’s not easy to do.”

Charleston Southern Bucky 1970

Charleston Southern’s “Bucky” in 1970. Provided/CSU Athletics 

The task of designing a new Bucky fell to Tyler Stokes, a graphic designer in CSU’s marketing and communications department. He did some research into the history of Bucky at CSU and looked at various pirates, buccaneers and cavaliers from other sports teams around the country.

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“Some of the old Buckys were OK and some were not so great,” Stokes said in 2019. “I looked at other pirates and buccaneers, and a lot of them were very front-on and aggressive. You don’t want your sports logo to be scary, but you don’t want him to be a pushover, either.

“As I talked to people here about how Bucky came about, they said he had more of a gentleman quality to him, so I tried to get more of that in there. He’s got a side view, so he’s no so up front and abrasive.”

Charleston Southern Bucky 1978

Charleston Southern’s “Bucky” in 1978. Provided/CSU Athletics 

After Stokes came up with a design, Barber ran it past some friends who work for Walt Disney Animation.

“They are high level Disney animators who have worked on big movies and TV shows,” he said. “We actually got a lot of input from them and they all loved it. We ran it by them and other artists and kept working on it until we got to the point where we had done everything we could.”

Evolution of Bucky: How Charleston Southern (and Disney) designed its new logo

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC