"Every school in our conference has some version of their logo that includes elements of their mascot..."
Not UP. When we changed logos in 2007, it went from this:
Even after all this time, it's been hard for me to really warm up to the new P. It's fine and all, and looks good on letterhead, but it doesn't really evoke sports or (especially) collegiate athletics.
The challenge, though, was that the University really wanted to copyright the new logo, and there were so many other Pilot Wheel logos out there that apparently it wasn't really possible to trademark a new one. I don't know... that was the story, anyway.
I've been waging an underground battle to bring back some form of an alternative/throwback logo (Pilot Wheel, anchor... something nautical) that UP could use for t-shirts and other "non official" type uses, but I'm pretty much a voice in the wilderness on that one.
To me, the one word that jumps out to me when I see the new USF logo (and think about the newish UP logo) - coorporate. It's perfectly functional, thought out, looks good on business cards, etc etc... but is ultimately a bit soulless and doesn't quite give you the emotional resonance that you want.
Still, having said all that - I actually do like the new USF logos. Maybe it's not a complete home run, but it's something to be proud of and excited about. Believe me, it could be MUCH worse... remember the GAP disaster from a year or two ago?