You really can learn something new every day, even if the humility index varies dramatically.
The spectrum ranges from John Wooden's “it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts,” to Bob Knight's “I’ve forgotten more about this F’n game than all you people combined are ever going to know.”
The weird thing is Steve Alford, who played for Knight at Indiana and now coaches basketball at UCLA, has never uttered anything so memorable. Yet, to paraphrase, he “makes more F’n money than most of us people combined are ever going to know.”
Anyway, that’s neither here, nor there, nor last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Rankman takes tremendous, huge, Trumped-up pride in knowing a lot about college football. It’s basically his job now, 7-24, (seven hours a day, 24 days a year).
In an effort to serve TMG more devoutly, yours truly recently tip-toed through college football’s tulips in an effort to seek out things he didn’t know.
The final list turned out longer than the 95 theses Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, but Rankman, naturally, nailed it down to a top-20 list.
- Tracy Claeys is the head football coach at Minnesota. Really? Actually, vaguely knew it last fall after he replaced Jerry Kill, but forgot it faster than last week’s grocery list. Anyway, good luck to Stacy (sorry, Tracy) and congratulations in advance on your opening win against Oregon State on Sept. 1.
- Luke Del Rio is a “dark horse” Heisman candidate. Did…not…know…this. Del Rio, son of Jack, is the No.2 “very dark horse” on an outlet called “The Student Section,” which we’re guessing must be in Section 8. First, we needed UPS tracking to learn Del Rio had shipped from Oregon State to Florida, which hasn’t played offense in years. Del Rio was a bench-warmer at Oregon State, yet is now somebody’s hunch to join Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow as Heisman winning quarterbacks from Gainesville? Is the Pac 12 North really that much better than the SEC East?
- First year Illinois Coach Lovie Lee Smith’s real name is…Lovie Lee Smith. Rankman just assumed “Lovie” was a cover-up for an embarrassing birth name: Lancelot, Thurston, or maybe Eldrick. Turns out Smith’s parents wanted a girl to honor an aunt named Lavana, and bent that to "Lovie" when the girl turned out to be a boy.
- Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher’s real name is John James Fisher, Jr. He earned the nickname “Slim Jimbo” because of his affinity for a certain meat snack. It could have been worse: John James could have ended up as “Hormel Tray.”
- Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney’s given name is William Christopher Swinney. “Dabo” evolved as a child when his little brother couldn’t enunciate “that boy” when point to his sibling. Relatives of Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant think that’s a “cute little Clemson story” that just falls short again on the big stage.
- Rankman knew there were two Bowling Greens, one in Ohio, and one in Kentucky, but was not 100% sure until yesterday which Bowling Green went 10-4 last year as a member of the Mid-American Conference. You all know which one it is…right?
- Virginia: member of the ACC Atlantic, or Coastal, division? Rankman had no clue until he recently opened to page 48 of Athlon’s preseason magazine. Here’s the problem: people get brain lock when you name your divisions anything other than North, South, East or West. It was the same thing with the Big Ten’s disastrous “Leaders” and “Legends” idea. Rankman has no problem with directional teams in the Pac 12, SEC and even the old Big 12 North and South.
- Phil Steele’s annual College Football preseason magazine has been the most accurate for the last 18 years. Source: Phil Steele. Research by: Phil Steele. Quote from: Phil Steele: “I just wanted you to know that this college preview is basically all I work on the entire year.” This is different from Lindy’s, which gets spread too thin by ranking college football teams and contagious diseases.
- Gleaned from recent SEC media days: Florida coach Jim McElwain won’t wear socks—not even to his daughter’s wedding. They say you don’t know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. In this case, Rankman says, “No thanks.”
- This just in from the just-learned desk: Michigan is 1-7 in last eight games vs. Michigan State and 1-11 in last 12 against Ohio State. Given that Michigan shares the Big Ten East division with those two schools, shouldn’t we cool our jets a bit before anointing the Wolverines the national title?
- Northern Illinois has played in six straight MAC championship games. And here we thought all these years Dekalb was only famous for the invention of barbed wire and NIU grad T.J. Simers.
- William “Oliver” Swofford, the late brother of ACC Commissioner John Swofford, was an American pop singer in the 1960s who scored hits with “Good Morning Starshine,” and “Jean,” the theme song to the movie “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”
- For the love of Major Applewhite. Culled from 2016 SI preview issue: Texas finished with nine touchdown passes in Big 12 play last year, the same as option-offense Navy.
- Oklahoma became the first school to make the Final Four in football and basketball, an impressive statistic when you consider the four-team playoff in college football dates all the way back to 2014.
- From USC’s media notes: “The Trojans are 117-26-5 (.807) in years when Republicans won the White House and 89-40-9 (.678) when Democrats won. USC has played in the Rose Bowl during the term of every U.S. President except Barack Obama.” My Trojan friends from Newport Beach say this a lot: “Obama’s fault.”
- Did not see this coming: Collegefootballnews.com suggests Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly would be the best U.S. President among today’s collection of coaches, followed by David Shaw (Stanford), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Nick Saban (Alabama) and Mark Dantonio (Michigan State). Frankly, Rankman would not hand nuclear codes to Kelly based alone on the way he yelled at quarterback Tommy Rees on the sideline.
- Notre Dame and Auburn have never met on a football field. How is that possible? The programs did bump into each other, once, in a coffee shop.
- Baylor is the nation’s seventh best team, according to ESPN magazine’s preseason top-25 power poll. Either this prediction was made with a print deadline in May, before the scandal in Waco, or ESPN let Lou Holtz back in the convention room with a bottle of Crown Royal.
- Tennessee’s colors of orange and white were chosen in 1891 to represents the daisies grown on campus. Well, it least they weren't pansies, but this is a new one: Rankman, for years, thought the colors were inspired by the 50-50 ice cream bar.
- Tennessee has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Did not know that, in part because every time Rankman visits Knoxville they tell me Peyton Manning won in 1997.