First, don't gatekeep me or other people who don't have specific replacements for the Chief. Insinuating that my dislike of the kingfisher for the reasons I've already stated is invalid because I don't have another solution is BS. Liking/disliking any mascot or symbol or team name or whatever is a matter of personal opinion. Lists of alternatives have been discussed here ad nauseum and I'm not going to discuss every single one of them. As I've already stated, if they're going to have a new mascot, find something that is iconic and recognizable to the residents of Illinois. That's my productive proposal that you're requiring. Do I have something specific? No, because brainstorming potential mascots is not my forte.
Second, he wasn't at the time - same as every other mascot. He was something created that the students/administration/whoever at the time thought would be dignified and honor our state's history and Native American traditions. Eighty years later, he was iconic and many people could see the Chief logo and associate it with Illinois. The kingfisher is trying to replace an icon with a generic animal that is native to Illinois and over half of the other states in the US. It's incredibly generic. We're the flagship school of Illinois, not a directional school. We can do better in honoring our state and school history. I lived in Illinois, including rural central Illinois, for many years and had never even heard of kingfishers in Illinois until six months ago. I'm far from alone on that one.
The other significant problem that many people have with this is that all of the imagery for this replacement so far has been artwork and redesigned logos. If this is supposed to be a person wearing a mascot suit on the sidelines, why are there no mockups of the actual mascot suit? There's genuine concern that if this goes through, there will be a push to change our name from the Fighting Illini, which has NOTHING TO DO WITH NATIVE AMERICANS to the University of Illinois Kingfishers or Fighting Kingfishers. That's unacceptable to most alumni. IMO, the best solution if the University wants to proceed, is to hire an advertising/marketing firm and have them come up with several proposals, or have a open fan contest where they assemble ideas, instead of listening to one random recent graduate who thinks birds are cool and then pushing that agenda through because the administration is desperate to purge all memory of the Chief from our program. Let the long-time fans and alumni have a serious say in this change. It's the only way for a replacement to succeed. They need to make it clear that we will still be and always be the Fighting Illini. They'd have a lot more success with a new mascot if they would recognize the Chief as a honored but outdated symbol in our history, instead of trying to purge all references to him from the program. If they branded a new mascot as a new step in our history and tradition, instead of a replacement, they'd have a lot more success with this.
Oof, I seem to have touched a nerve. My apologies.
I actually agree with most everything you said in that last paragraph, and you'll notice that I never explicitly voiced support for the kingfisher, besides noting its name is cooler than the state bird and that the reasoning behind it is relatively simple. I think there could be worse mascots, but as Ransom noted, that's a pretty poor reason to adopt this mascot. And I am also firmly in the camp of not wanting to see the name "Fighting Illini" go by the wayside.
I also didn't mean to give the impression of any "gatekeeping." You had responded to my original post (which was not explicitly directed at you and did not insinuate anything about your specific reasoning) with a reference to another post that didn't really address my original post, so I reiterated the point. I'm not requiring you or anybody else to provide a list of alternative mascots, only asking what those might be if this one isn't it. The best way to ensure something you (in the generic sense) don't want to happen doesn't happen is providing a better alternative. Not that we're going to solve this issue on a fan message board, but I was hoping to see what those might be nonetheless.
Your second paragraph still underscores my point, in that a mascot isn't often iconic at the outset but becomes that way and that this is the same for more generic mascots (to a degree of course, and I would argue the kingfisher isn't that generic since I know of no other school/professional team that has it as a mascot). Badgers, wildcats, gophers, spartans, tigers, bulldogs, etc., etc. -- all were/are pretty generic animals/symbols that became iconic within that state because they are the mascot for the flagship university. I would also prefer something iconic from the get-go, but the realist in me questions how plausible that is. I was born and raised in Champaign, attended the U of I, and lived there until a few years ago, so I have a lot of love for both Illinois and the Fighting Illini, but even I will readily admit that our state is lacking when it comes to symbols/animals/institutions/people/history that is iconic, particularly when you try to think outside the Chicago area and its unique history.
I think the marketing firm is a great idea, particularly if it can be one that is from the downstate area so as to maximize local knowledge. And I also see your point about the concerns of this becoming the logo instead of a mascot. I think this proposal would have been better if they had just proposed using the kingfisher as a starting point for creating the look of the mascot, but calling it "The Illini." Then, it wouldn't be taking away from the history of the school or its current nickname, would be a somewhat natural progression from a Chief with a feather headdress to a bird with similar colored feathers, and the people wanting to see something goof around for kids at games would get their wish. But, I believe this is pretty similar to a prior proposal from several years back that wasn't up to snuff, so