Four times this year, and, well, every year, NU plays an out-of-conference opponent. The question arises: who are these guys?
Some people only want to know who they are in a football sense, but to truly understand our opponents on the gridiron, you have to understand where they come from, so football strategy can wait. I plan on getting to know these universities a little bit better with four quick posts on each college, mainly with info gleaned from the school's wikipedia pages.
This weeks victim: Towson University.
Where: Towson, Maryland, a place in Baltimore County the Wikipedia is very precise not to refer to as a town. There aren't many notable Towsonians, but Carmelo Anthony, the proud West Baltimore native, went to high school in Towson before transferring to the Oak Hill Academy. In a weird NU connection, the wikipedia tells me that Julia Louis-Dreyfus' character Elaine Benes is supposedly from Towson, although I don't remember it ever coming up on the show. Also in Towson is Goucher College, a former all-women's school which would probably provide a considerably worse opponent in football.
When: Towson was founded in 1866, and has been called by many names, something the Wikipedia kindly sums up in a single image:
(apparently, this image goes wayyyyyyyyy off the right of the page. There are five logos.) Surprisingly, Wikipedia doesn't have an image of the seal from the University's brief period when it was called "Towson University Ochocinco."
Stadium Size?: Johnny Unitas Stadium seats 11,000, or about 4,000 less than there are attendees of the school. In other news, a Towson fan just heard you complaining about how difficult it is to fill a 50,000 seat stadium with only 8,000 students, and I'm pretty sure he just rolled his eyes and gave you the finger.
Alums I've heard of: Quite frankly, the list of interesting people who have actually graduated from Towson is pretty short: I'd limit it to Braves GM John Schuerholz - who actually is the main person credited with the making Towson's mascot the tiger - and the guy who played the voice of Elmo, whose name I already forget despite the fact that I'm looking at the wikipedia page now. However, Towson does have some pretty cool almost-graduates: Stacy Keibler, a wrestler/actress mainly known for being unreasonably attractive, attended Towson before leaving to capitalize on her attractiveness, and Tamir Goodman, the Jewish Jordan, an orthodox Jew who was very briefly an inspiration to basketball-loving Jews like myself everywhere in the mid 1990's.
For those of you unfamiliar with Goodman's story, he was highly touted after averaging in the high 30's in his junior and senior years of high school playing for the Talmudical Acadamy of Baltimore. He was electric on the court, dunking a lot and whatnot, and accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Maryland. His insistence on wearing a tallis and yarmulke during games, and his refusal to play basketball on the Sabbath, caught a decent amount of press, but after he found out that Maryland wanted him to play and practice Fridays and Saturday's, Goodman left the Terps for Towson. His first year at Towson went off without a hitch, as he averaged a decent 6 points and 4 assists, not great numbers, but alright for a rookie, and he attracted decently sized crowds to go watch Towson play. Unfortunately for Tamir, Mike Jaskulski, the coach who brought Goodman in, left after the Tigers' 12-17 season, and he was replaced by Michael Hunt, a coach less sensitive to Goodman's religious tendencies. (This really skippy youtube video
was filmed in the halcyon days of Goodman's time at Towson.)Tamir left the team a month into the 01-02 season, and has spent the past six years bouncing back between playing pro ball in Israel and playing minor league ball in the US. He's currently a player for the Maccabi Haifa Heat in Israel, so, good for Tamir. This clip
sums the whole thing up pretty well, features some clips of Goodman in his Towson days, and also shows he's pretty happy with the way it's all turned out.
Current NFL Players: Only one, Jermon Bushrod, an offensive tackle for the Saints and therefore the platoon mate of NU grad Zach Strief. By far the most notable Towson grad to play pro football was punter Sean Landeta, who spent 24 seasons playing professionally, starting with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL in 1983, picking up two Super Bowl rings with the Giants, and playing until 2006. He was the last active player to have played in the USFL, the last to have appeared in Tecmo Bowl, and among the last to wear the single-bar punter facemask, a uniform object that appears to be officially extinct due to Scott Player's apparently finished career.
Mascot: Doc, the Tiger. As noted, John Schuerholz is behind this baby. Before that, they were the Towson Golden Knights.
Mascot if I ran the school: Something related to either crabs or The Wire. Perhaps the Towson Cripplingly Realistic Commentaries on the Modern American City. Catchy, huh?
Difference between the amount of times this school has been to the Division I NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and the amount of times Northwestern has: (Yes, I plan on doing this with each team we face. Just to show how silly it is.)Two. Towson may be an FCS school, but they're still D-I, and therefore, they qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers went dancing in back to back seasons in 1990-91, losing to Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively. They actually kept it close in both games, losing by 9 to the Sooners and 11 to the Buckeyes.
Elsewhere in Towson sports: Towson's most popular sport is lacrosse, because Maryland is a weird, weird place. The men's squad won the DII championship in 1974, made the DI finals in 1991, and the DI final four in 2001, and the women's team, of course, has won five consecutive national championships. (Oh, wait, that's Northwestern with the five straight national championships. Silly mistake.)
Might I suggest "Go U Towson-stern"?: Here's how much Towson's football program is in flux this year: in addition to the new head coach and still as-of-yet undetermined starting QB, the Tigers will be taking the field this fall to an all-new fight song. The marching band's musical director, John Miliauskas, was growing tired of the old song which was played to the tune of the University of Arizona's fight song, and commissioned a new one. The theme was written by recent music graduate John Hosier, and the lyrics... well, a contest was held, with the winner receiving $500, but the results haven't been revealed yet. They better hurry, what with the team playing a game in five days and whatnot.
Can we play them on the road?: NU sports teams are undefeated at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium the past two years, with the women's lacrosse teams winning their fourth and fifth consecutive national championship at the Tigers' home football field, Johnny Unitas Stadium. I like to imagine that some of NU's championship athletes snuck through a series of grates in the Towson locker room to find Towson's top secret football game plan book to bring back to Evanston to help out their fellow athletes, dispatching security guards with fast-paced lacrosse balls to the face. But it doesn't seem likely.
Just dance. It'll be okay: The Tigers dance squad has won 11 straight Division I national championships. In case you're wondering what an 11-time national champ looks like, the answer is this:
You're probably thinking "hey, that looked a lot like every other dance team I've ever seen." But then again, if Michael Phelps was swimming laps by himself, would you know he was the best swimmer of all time? In other words, you can't understand how great the Towson dance team's rendition of the stanky leg is until you see the other school's renditions of the stanky leg.
Johnny U U: Towson's home football stadium is called Johnny Unitas Stadium. It's a brand spankin new facility built in 2002.You'd probably assume Johnny was a large donor or alumni, like John Schuerholz (after whom the team's baseball facilities are named) but that's not the case.
Unitas, as you probably know, was the quarterback for the Baltimore Colts in the 1950's, 60's, and early 70's, back before the team moved to Indianapolis, and is considered one of the all-time greats. He wasn't a Towson grad - he went to Louisville. He retired and lived out the rest of his life in Baltimore. In 2002, Towson asked him to be the "community liason" between Towson sports and Baltimore at large, and Unitas accepted. I assume the major aspects of the job were showing up at fundraising events and making other public appearances, but one of the listed aspects of his job was helping find a corporate sponsor for the brand new stadium. Anyway, soon after Towson opened the stadium, then called "Towson Stadium", and Unitas showed up at the grand opening, threw some passes, and probably signed some autographs. A week later, Unitas died of a heart attack, and rather than continue searching for a corporate sponsor, the team named the stadium after Unitas, and started a scholarship fund in his name to raise money. You could argue that the stadium is named Unitas Stadium because of how beloved he is in the Baltimore community, but on the flip side, you could just as easily argue that it's named that because of the few months he held a puff position at the university.
Long story short, don't be surprised if Ryan Field is renamed Scottie Pippen Field in the year 2033.
So that's it for Towson. I'll have an in-depth analysis of the, you know, football aspect of the matchup tomorrow.