Okay, it’s time to throw in my two cents, or wooden nickel, or Susan B. Anthony dollar, or whatever I can find in last week’s pants pockets. Rob’s East breakdown was filled with pertinent, possibly sage information. That crap has got to stop, and it stops right here.
In actuality, I have compiled a good deal of information for you on the 16 schools in the Midwest bracket – just not any that will help you make well-informed decisions in your office pool. Instead, it will give you a few nuggets to tuck away for use while watching Jeopardy, or perhaps even to slip into casual conversation as a surprising “Did you know . . . ?” I stole most of my data from Wikipedia, Google, the IMDB, and Whataburger.com.
As the erstwhile Stanley Burrell once demanded, “Break it down!”
Your 2007 Midwest Region
The University of Florida
Motto: “The welfare of the state depends upon the morals of its citizens”
Mascot: Albert E. Gator
Notable Alums: Faye Dunaway, Cris Collinsworth, Erin Andrews, Bob Vila, Andrew DeClercq, Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Spurrier, David Eckstein, Buddy Ebsen, Emmitt Smith, Stephen Stills, Chris DiMarco, Darrell Hammond, Jason Williams, Lawton Chiles, Wilber Marshall, Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Demme, Stephen Root, Jevon Kearse, Red Barber, Brad Wilkerson, Vernon Maxwell, Malcolm Gets, Rex Grossman, Melinda Lou “Wendy” Thomas (namesake of Wendy's Restaurants and daughter of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas)
Interesting Fact: Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida. Elvis Presley loved Gatorade long before it was popular. There’s a Wendy’s down the street from Graceland. And Wendy herself went to UF. Odd, huh?
Jackson State University
Motto: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”
Mascot: The Blue Bengal
Notable Alums: Oil Can Boyd, Lindsey Hunter, Lem Barney, Rod Paige, Jackie Slater, Jimmy Smith, Walter Payton
Interesting Fact: Walter Payton’s brother Eddie coaches the golf team.
Whitney’s Pick: Sweetness is a nice claim, but I’ll go with some “Dark Star,” Bonnie & Clyde, and a double with cheese, no onions, and biggie fries. Florida.
The University of Arizona
Motto: “Bear Down!”
Mascot: Wilbur the Wildcat; Wilma the Wildcat (coming soon: Webster the Out-of-Wedlock Wildcat)
Notable Alums: Gilbert Arenas, Bob Dole, Terry Francona, Geraldo Rivera, Jennie Finch, Amanda Beard, Barry Goldwater, Sean Elliott, Harrison Ford, Garry Shandling, Denise Austin, Kenny Lofton, Jerry Bruckheimer, Annika Sörenstam, Greg Kinnear, Linda McCartney, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Russo, Ron Shelton, Arte Moreno, Jim Furyk, Steve Kerr
Interesting Fact: The film Revenge of the Nerds was filmed at the University of Arizona, many students appeared as extras, and many nerds scored.
Other Interesting Fact: A University of Arizona study indicated that psilocybin mushrooms help reduce the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder victims. (Presumably to offset the angst that that crazy, Type A motto instills.)
Motto: “Education, Research, Service”
Mascot: The Boilermaker Special (Catch him at your local pub.)
Notable Alums: George Peppard, Neil Armstrong, Glenn Robinson, John Wooden, Orville Redenbacher (or is John Wooden actually Orville Redenbacher?), Amelia Earhart, Len Dawson, Hank Stram, Drew Brees, Bob Griese, and Jim Everett (most beloved for bludgeoning Jim Rome)
Interesting Fact: From the 1970’s into the 1990’s, Purdue was the site of the Nude Olympics. It was apparently halted by a rash of sudden and permanent blindness in onlookers.
Whitney’s Pick: Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! We’ll go with the shrooms, Jennie Finch, and the dry heat, just edging out an otherwise appealing display of naked people beating up Jim Rome. Arizona.
Old Dominion University
Motto: “Changing Lives” (formerly “Changing Tires”)
Mascot: Big Blue the Monarch
Notable Alums: Mark West, Chris Gatling, Justin Verlander, Mills E. Godwin Jr., Oliver Purnell, Nancy Lieberman, Anne Donovan, Kenny Gattison, Cal Bowdler (ouch), Adm. William J. Fallon
Interesting Fact: ODU was established in 1930 as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, becoming an independent institution in 1962.
Other Interesting Fact: The Monarchs play in the recently built Ted Constant Convocation Center, a gorgeous, state-of-the-art facility. Back in my high school days, however, that land featured – among other holes in the wall – Speedy Gonzalez’s Tacos, a place smaller than half-court that served 39-cent tacos on Wednesdays. I mean, come on, thirty-nine cents? And they served beer to absolutely anyone. Ah, yesteryear.
Motto: “Education, Research, Service” (Uh oh - someone at Purdue has some ‘splaining to do...)
Mascot: Shimmy the Bulldog
Notable Alums: Jim Jones (yes, that Jim Jones), Thad Matta, Hyapatia Lee
Interesting Fact: The state championship scene of Hoosiers was filmed in Butler’s fieldhouse. The game that Hoosiers was based on was actually played there as well.
Whitney’s Pick: Scrumptious 39-cent tacos and cheap pitchers or cyanide Kool-Aid? Hmmm. ODU.
The University of Maryland
Motto: “Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine: Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” (I am aware that you think I am kidding. Think again.)
Mascot: Testudo the Terrapin
Notable Alums: Larry David, Len Bias, Jim Henson, Boomer Esiason, Connie Chung, Fred Funk, Dianne Wiest, Len Elmore, the Bernsteins (Bonnie & Carl), the Williams Boys (Gary, Buck, & Walt), Dominique Dawes, Bert Sugar, Gene Shue, Karen Allen, Albert King, Tom McMillen, Norman Chad, John Lucas, Frank Ryan, Tim Kurkjian, Renaldo Nehemiah, Joe Smith, Randy White, Shawne Merriman, Tim Brant, Scott Van Pelt
Interesting Fact: The Point of Failure is the intersection of lines marked in concrete leading to the center of all the UMD buildings that burned during the Great Fire of 1912. Tradition holds that a student who steps on this point will never graduate . . . and instead go to work for the Federal Government.
Motto: “Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen”
Mascot: Mr. Cat the Wildcat
Notable Alums: Patricia Cornwell, Dean Rusk, Tony Snow, Vincent Foster, Bob Faw, Woodrow Wilson (attended but transferred to Princeton)
Interesting Fact: Basketball coach Larry Brown's first head coaching job was at Davidson. Unfortunately, it would only last during the summer off-season, and he never coached a game.
Whitney’s Pick: That ridiculous MD motto makes this a much closer contest than it should have been. Honestly, I am still kind of on the fence. But the Terps squeak it out thanks to Testudo kicking the crap out of Mr. Cat. (Mr. Cat? Is that the best they could do?) Maryland.
The University of Notre Dame
Motto: “(Mary, our) Life, Sweetness, and Hope”
Mascot: The Leprechaun
Notable Alums: Joe Montana, Phil Donahue, George "The Gipper" Gipp, Regis Philbin, Hannah Storm, Rocky Bleier, Paul Hornung, Carl Yastrzemski, Adrian Dantley, George Wendt, Alan Page, Condoleezza Rice, Cap Anson, Mike Golic, Bill Laimbeer, Tim Brown, Don Ohlmeyer, Ted Robinson, Larry Dolan, Jerome Bettis, Don Criqui, Aaron Heilman, Nick Buoniconti, Kelly Tripucka, Knute Rockne, Jed Bartlett, "Rudy" Ruettiger, Steve Bartman, Joe Theismann (listed in order of football talent)
Interesting Fact: The Leprechaun wasn't always the official mascot of Notre Dame - for years the team was represented by a series of Irish terrier dogs. The Leprechaun was named the official mascot in 1965.
Other Interesting Fact: Note Dame was ranked last by Trojan, the condom company, in terms of access to sexual information it provides its students.
Motto: “Truth with Liberty”
Mascot: Big Stuff the Eagle
Notable Alums: Frances Patton Statham (romance novelist), Dr. Mary Gaulden Jagger (one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women). Andie MacDowell attended Winthrop in 1977 but dropped out as a sophomore in 1978 to sign with Elite Model Management.
Interesting Fact: Part of The Rage: Carrie 2 was filmed at Winthrop. Also, Winthrop was a women’s college until 1972.
Whitney’s Pick: Winthrop is the sexy pick, of course, what with that vixen Andie MacDowell. Especially when compared to Condoleezza Rice. But the revelation that Norm was an Irishman seals the deal for this tippler. ND.
The University of Oregon
Motto: “Minds Move Mountains”
Mascot: Puddles the Duck
Notable Alums: Ken Kesey, Norv Turner, Phil Knight, Dan Fouts, Paul Simon (the Senator), Ahmad Rashad, John McKay, Reuben Droughns, Chuck Palahniuk, Peter Jacobsen, Stu Jackson, Stephen J. Cannell, Alberto Salazar, Mike Nolan, Norm Van Brocklin, Terrell Brandon, Colin Meloy, Joey Harrington, Blair Rasmussen, David Ogden Stiers (attended), Howard Hesseman (attended), Russ Francis
Interesting Fact: The film Animal House was filmed on the campus and the surrounding area, although the building used as the exterior of the Delta House was demolished in 1986. (A sacrilege, says I.)
Motto: “To Accomplish Rather Than To Be Conspicuous” (also the motto of organized crime)
Mascot: Swoop the RedHawk
Notable Alums: President Benjamin Harrison, Nick Lachey, Ron Zook, Mojo Nixon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tina Louise, Scott Sauerbeck, Marvin Miller, Wally Szczerbiak, Walter Alston, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler
Interesting Fact: On the Miami campus, the Hefner Zoology Museum is adjacent to the Limper Geology Museum. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it?
Whitney’s Pick: The minds that created Randle P. McMurphy, B.A. Baracus, and Tyler Durden against the Cradle of Coaches. Although I generally believe the quote that “if you don’t have Mojo Nixon, then your [school] could use some fixin’,” I think the Ducks’ accomplishments will be rather conspicuous in this game. Oregon.
The Georgia Institute of Technology
Motto: “Progress and Service”
Mascot: Buzz the Yellow Jacket
Notable Alums: Jimmy Carter, Jason Varitek, Jeff Foxworthy, (the) Bobby Jones, Mark Price, Kevin Brown, Sam Nunn, Ken Whisenhunt, Vern Yip, Stewart Cink, Nomar Garciaparra, Ed Dodd, John Salley, Keith Brooking, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Dennis Scott, Mark Teixeira, David Duval
Interesting Fact: Tech's fight song “I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech” is known worldwide. It was adapted from an old drinking song (“Son of a Gambolier”), and embellished with trumpet flourishes by Frank Roman. In 1959, then VP Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev sang it together when they had their famous cold war confrontation in Moscow, to reduce the tension. Nixon didn't know any Russian songs, but Khrushchev knew that one American one. It was sung on the Ed Sullivan show; it was played in space; Gregory Peck sang it while strumming a ukulele in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit; John Wayne whistled it in The High and the Mighty. It is played after every Georgia Tech score in a football game.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Motto: “What happens at UNLV stays at UNLV” (I don’t know; they don’t seem to have one.)
Mascot: Hey Reb the Rebel
Notable Alums: Ickey Woods, Jimmy Kimmel, Larry Johnson, Suge Knight, Randall Cunningham, Todd Stottlemyre, Ashlyn Gere, Adam Scott, J.R. Rider, Reggie Theus, Kenny Mayne, Shawn Marion, Keenan McCardell, Anthony E. Zuiker
Interesting Fact: In 2003, Gladys Knight recorded the majority of her recent Grammy-winning album on the UNLV campus.
Whitney’s Pick: 50 years of history, no motto, a nonsensical mascot name, Suge Knight, and J.R. Rider. Jerry Tarkanian was a friggin’ genius. Georgia Tech.
The University of Wisconsin
Motto: “The divine within the universe, however manifested, is my light or God, our light.”
Mascot: Buckingham U. Badger, or “Bucky” for short
Notable Alums: Charles Lindbergh, Joyce Carol Oates, Frank Lloyd Wright, Brooks Bollinger, Bud Selig, Boz Scaggs, Michael Mann, Chris Chelios, Tom Wopat, both Zucker brothers, Ron Dayne, Jeff Greenfield, Michael Finley, Eudora Welty, Dany Heatley, Dale Chihuly, Harvey Kuenn, Daniel J. Travanti, Paul Quantrill, Fredric March, Steve Miller, Mike Richter, Jim Lovell, Leonard Shapiro, Troy Vincent, Russ Feingold, Joan Cusack, Chris Chambers, Dick Cheney, (attended as doctoral candidate; failed to graduate)
Trivia Question: Wisconsin is NOT known as: (a) America's Dairyland (b) the Badger State (c) the Cheese State (d) the Snowy Land of Plump, Pasty Swedish-Canadians in Flannel
Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University – Corpus Christi
Motto: “Corpus Christi – not just for Spring Break any more” (Again, I can’t find one.)
Mascot: Izzy the Islander
Notable Alums: None, that I can tell. Corpus Christi, however, is or was home to Farrah Fawcett, Lou Diamond Phillips, Burt Hooton, Marshall Applewhite, the Labonte brothers, Selena, and Whataburger.
Interesting Fact: The school was formerly known by the following three names: Corpus Christi State University (CCSU), Texas A&I University at Corpus Christi, and University of Corpus Christi. Rejected names include The University of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi Architectural Division and Adult Learning Annex for the Specially-Abled and Arguably Mexican, Christ Almighty, and Whataburger U.
Whitney’s Pick: A no-brainer. The Zuckers have brought me hours upon hours of enjoyment, and Miami Vice is still one of the best shows in syndication. Plus, who can bother writing out some cockamamie abbreviation for the other school. Whatapainintheass. Wisconsin.
Florida vs. Arizona
This game will come down to one simple match-up: Jonathan Demme against Jerry Bruckheimer. Director against Producer. Silence of the Lambs against Top Gun. Stop Making Sense against Coyote Ugly. Florida.
ODU vs. Maryland
Changing Lives or Womanly Words? Changing Lives. ODU.
Notre Dame vs. Oregon
“Win one for the Gipper” or “Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer... dead!” Chalk one up for the Senator. Oregon.
Georgia Tech vs. Wisconsin
Who’s had a greater fall from glory, David Duval or Dick Cheney? Gotta go with Cheney. Georgia Tech.
UF vs. ODU
Sadly, Speedy Gonzalez and his cheap tortillas can’t match the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the one-time home of the SuperBar. “¡Arriba!” Gators.
Oregon vs. Ga. Tech
“Minds Move Mountains?” All right then. “Progress and Service?” Yawn. Way to nerd it up, Tech. Oregon.
Florida vs. Oregon
Steve Spurrier vs. Norv Turner. Rex Grossman vs. Joey Harrington. Cris Collinsworth vs. Ahmad Rashad. All pretty much equally inept, annoying, or both. Malcolm Gets, gay actor vs. Russ Francis, gay footballer. Jed Clampett vs. Johnny Fever. It’s a wash throughout, and the game itself should be a barn-burner. What’s it going to come down to? Here’s the way I see it playing out. David Ogden Stiers played a real pain in the ass on TV. David Eckstein actually is one. Case closed. Oregon.
Really? Really??? I just picked Oregon to win this region and go to the Final Four? Man, I’d better start saving for lunch.