Vanderbilt Commodores (20-11) vs. George Washington Colonials (23-8)
When: Thursday, 5:10 p.m.
1.How It Got Here. Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University was originally to be known as Central University in Nashville, on the hope that founding a university in Graceland could heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War. It was renamed Vanderbilt, however, after Cornelius Vanderbilt abandoned his original two plans to erect an enormous statue of himself, or to build a university in Staten Island named after his mother. Instead, the Commodore chose Plan C, and donated to found a school in Tennessee that he would never visit. The tradition of Gilded Age aristocracy is apparent in many aspects of modern campus life, ranging from the students wearing jackets and ties to football games, to not observing Labor Day due to the Commodore's disdain for the working class, to denying a living wage to school employees, causing a labor uprising on campus and raising the ire of John Edwards and Sergeant Roger Murtagh.
2. Travelin' Man. Speaking of aristocrats, Vanderbilt is headed by Gordon Gee, who can best be described as the Larry Brown of university presidents. Gee has the steward of an amazing five universities: Colorado, West Virginia, Ohio State, Brown and now Vanderbilt. Gee's signature move has been, somewhat oddly, spending lavish sums of money on building or revamping the president's residence at all universities, spending over $10 million in total on repeatedly giving him an acceptable place to call home. However, given that Gee's wife Constance reportedly smokes pot at the president's quarters (until filing for divorce last week), perhaps the constant renovations and moving may be necessary to clean the residue. Gee has also come under criticism for throwing extravagant parties, cronyism in the board of directors, taking a lavish salary and eliminating the athletic department to put Vanderbilt's athletics under the umbrella of student affairs. The moral? Beware of presidents in bow ties.
3. Tenacious D. The Commodores are coached by Kyle Gass look-alike Kevin Stallings, who just completed his eighth season as skipper of the men's basketball team. After seven years of relative benign leadership and being excruciatingly anonymous for a major conference coach, Stallings mixed it up a bit this year by speaking his mind on his SEC brethren. In their home tilt against Florida this year, Stallings grabbed the game ball and refused to give it back to Joakim Noah, forcing the refs to intervene when Stallings started slapping the foot-taller Noah. Stallings professional comment afterwards was "Noah is a competitor, and so am I," apparently hoping he could post up Al Horford. He later referred to Bruce Pearl as an "idiot asshole" for showing up shirtless and draped in orange paint at a Lady Vols game this January. His reaction to this flare up was much more on point: "Who would want to see me without my shirt on anyway?" For this, we defer to Mrs. Stallings. — Angelo Grasso
GEORGE WASHINGTON COLONIALS
1. Hip....Hip-op....Hip-op-anatamus. He get all da easy ones!
The champs of the A-10 Tournament are the fightin' Colonials from the George Washington University. Thank god they don't call it that, like some teams I know. In the Big Ten. Who wear red and gray. While the Gdubs are called The Colonials for purposes of a mascot, they actually have three mascots present at each game: Little George (a person wearing a Revolutionary War costume with a giant George Washington head), Big George (a 10-ft. tall inflatable George Washington) and the Hippo (an inflatable Hippo). Emily Yoffe (of slate.com) has an hilarious article about her experience being inside Big George (not a euphemism). She also shares her story of the last time she attended a GW basketball game where her daughter was so scared by Little George that later that night Yoffe and her husband heard the two-year-old over the baby monitor going, "Giant head, no! No, George Washington giant head! Very scary! Very scary! No, George!" In case you were wondering, the Hippo is due to GW's secret society, The Order of the Hippo. According to the GW Wikipedia entry, "it is unknown what this secret society does on a daily basis." I can only speculate as to whether or not the Order's activities include using Big George's cell phone to send pictures of Little George to unsuspecting GW co-eds.
2. Yinka Dinka Doo. Probably the most famous basketball alumni of GW is Yinka Dare (not to be confused with Deadspin commenter Yinka Double Dare). Yinka had a lot of success as a Colonial and then went on to become one of the biggest underachievers in NBA history. In his rookie season, he played for three minutes before getting a season-ending knee injury. Each minute he played was worth $300,000. I wish my time were considered that valuable. In his four-year career, Dare recorded 96 turnovers and four assists, which is one of the worst A/TO ratio in NBA history. I was all set to really lay into what a doof this guy was, and then I read that he died of a heart attack three years ago at the age of 32 and felt like shit.
3. So, Who Shelled Out $38,000 per Year for this Place? Notable Alums who Did Not Play Basketball and Also Make Me Feel Guilty for Being Mean include: Kenneth Starr, L. Ron Hubbard, Red Auerbach, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace (and three former CotJCs Vessey, Shalikashvili and Powell), Allen Dulles (former CIA director), J. Edgar Hoover, W. Mark Felt (Deep Throat) and Charles W. Colson and Leon Jaworski, who were on opposite sides of the Watergate scandal. Those hearings must've been like an Order of the Hippo reunion barbecue. Finally, we now know who to thank for our WWL Overlords. Founder of ESPN Chet Simmons (I will not debate this. Period.) is a graduate of the George Washington University. Bonus tidbit: I read that in 1999 GW "acquired" the Mount Vernon College for Women. It does not specify what they did with it. I like to think the students were for the Order of the Hippo members, and it was all very hush-hush. — Andrea Reiher