Four (FIVE!) 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 know where they come from, so football strategy can wait. I plan on getting to know these universities a little bit better with posts on each college, mainly with info gleaned from their wikipedia pages.
This week/months' victim: Auburn.
Where: Auburn is located in the rather coincidentally named city of Auburn, Alabama. Auburn is slightly more than a college town, with 56,000 residents. Auburn's nickname is "the loveliest village on the plains" was named one of US News and World Reports' ten best places in the US to live, and that magazine has Northwestern ranked like No. 12 or something in their college issue, so I believe them dudes, so, point being, it sucks that you don't live there. For the record, the chicken of Auburn, Alabama came well before the egg of Auburn University - the town was incorporated in 1839, while the institution of higher learning founded there wouldn't be called "Auburn University" until 1960. (It went by the decidedly less sexy names of East Alabama Male College, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, and Alabama Polytechnic Institute beforehand.)
Notable... Auburnians? include current White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, football players DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora (who was born in England but ended up at Auburn High School anyway) and surf punk band Man or Astroman?, whose name is really difficult to type in sentences because it features a question mark. I'd never heard of Man or Astroman? until literally a minute and a half before typing this sentence, but the Wikipedia tells me that the band frequently made use of the theremin and tesla coil as instruments, and that the band members were Star Crunch (guitar/vocals) Birdstuff (drums) and Coco the Electric Monkey Wizard (bass and electronics.) I'm sold.
Size: Auburn has 20,302 undergrads, or 2.45 Northwesterns.
Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium seats 87,000 people, making it the fifth-largest city in Alabama on game days. It hasn't always been that big - when first built in 1939, there was only room for 7290. The stadium grew over the years, but was still too small to convince many teams to play there, meaning a lot of games against SEC rivals were played at Legion Field in Birmingham. The Tigers never convinced Alabama to visit Jordan-Hare until the 1989 rendition of the Iron Bowl.
Mascot: Kind of a weird situation here. Technically, since the team is the Tigers, the mascot is Aubie, an anthropomorphic tiger. (Makes sense.) Aubie, an extraordinarily uncreative name for a mascot of a school named Auburn, was drawn in 1959, made its actual mascotting debut in 1979, and has since won six national mascot championships, something I didn't know was even a thing. But apparently it is. This is more than any other college mascot in the nation, presumably because all the other college mascots are also unaware that "national mascot championships" are a thing.
Okay, so here's where it gets confusing. The Tiger isn't the real mascot: you might have noticed Auburn fans have a habit of randomly saying "War Eagle" all the time. This is because they have a War Eagle. Which is just like a regular eagle, but it sounds cooler when you put the word "war" in front of it. As the Wikipedia shows, nobody really has any idea why the hell this is, but Auburn fans love themselves some war eagle. Auburn students randomly took in a bird in 1930, they won a game, and then they forgot about this for about 30 years, but the school has continuously kept a Golden Eagle around since 1960, and they're now on War Eagle VII. Not to mention that the school's fight song is "War Eagle."
So, yeah. They're the tigers, but they have a freaking eagle on the sidelines. If you're confused, what you really need to know is, don't bring your pet mouse or squirrel to the bowl game, because a gigantic bird will eat spot it with its pinpoint vision, swoop in, and fly away with it. Also, stop owning a pet squirrel or mouse, because its weird.
Mascot if I ran the school: I'd probably pick one or the other. To be honest, the war eagle thing is significantly more badass, so, probably that.
Notable Alums: Again, I'm never sure of whether or not this is an indictment of the school or of my limited world knowledge, but the majority of Auburn alums I've heard of are athletes. In terms of the unathletically inclined, Auburn University is at least in part to blame for musician and scum of the earth Jimmy Buffett, who attended Auburn before transferring to the University of Southern Mississippi, before going on to spend decades writing generic non-threatening songs about leis and other nonthreatening crap. In case you're wondering how evil Jimmy Buffett is, watch this video:
Other notable Auburn grads include Alvin Vogtle, the army pilot after whom Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape was modeled, and Jimmy Wales, the guy who founded Wikipedia. Then again, I read about this on Wikipedia, so chances are Wales was a high school dropout and just made it look like he went to Auburn on the Wikipedia.
Auburn also has a bunch of athletes like I mentioned: Y'all heard of Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley, but I prefer to focus on the more obscure ones, like Knick legends Jamison Brewer and Moochie Norris, Persons Chuck and Wesley, and Youtube legend/garbage time scoring sensation Pat Burke. I seriously advise you watch those videos. All four of them.
Current NFL Players: There's a whopping 32 ex-Tigers in the league. You could sprinkle one per team, but that would deprive Jason Campbell from the ability to invite Carlos Rogers over for Auburn alumni-only dinner parties.
Difference between the amount of times Auburn has been to the NCAA tournament and the amount of times NU has: 8, a surprisingly low number, considering they had Pat Burke. Sadly, for all Burke's quirky internet hilarity, he never led the team to a tourney. Their most recent run was in 2003, when a tenth-seeded squad led by Marquis Daniels brought the team to the Sweet 16, only to lose to the eventual champion Syracuse squad. In 1999, the Tigers earned a No. 1 seed under the guidance of Mamadou N'Diaye, but were toppled by Michael Redd and Ohio State in the Sweet 16.
Elsewhere in Auburn sports: Auburn has a freakily dominant swimming and diving program, having won six of the last seven men's national championship titles and running a coed sweep of the national title podium from 2003-2007. Auburn was the collegiate swimming stage for many future Olympians, including three-time gold medalist and awesome name-haver Rowdy Gaines and Beijing star/Zimbabwean white lady Kirsty Coventry . I'm not sure what they have in the water down in Auburn, but it's probably that same stuff that made all those East German women swimmers grow beards and miniature testicles, so don't drink it. Unless you'd like to have a pair of miniature testicles, in which case, more power to you, but I'll pass. I'm content with my current scenario.
Also, the school's equestrian team captured the 2006 national championship.
Ask them who's going to win the Outback Bowl, count to three, yell "WRONG" and hang up: Operators at the Foy Information Desk at the Auburn Student Union will answer any question you have for them from 6 AM to midnight. The service was originally founded to help students find classes, see their schedules and transcripts and whatnot, but has since developed into a toll-free open-to-the-public free-for-all, receiving about 1,000 calls a day. They'll try their best to answer whatever you ask them, be it an opinion question or yes-no, although if your question is vulgar, they may ignore you, depending on the operator. Now, I'm not saying "prank call the crap out of them", but, well, the crap is just WAITING to be prank called out of them. (forgot to put the number in here the first time. It's 334-844-4244.)
Auburn home games do not feature Shawn Bradley, Muggsy Bogues, Patrick Ewing, and a host of your animated favorites: At first I was excited, because I thought the Jordan-Hare Stadium's name was a tribute to my second-favorite movie of all time for obvious reasons (I have that poster in my room, by the way), but in fact, it's named after Cliff Hare and Ralph "Shug" Jordan, who coached the football team from 1951-75, in addition to coaching the basketball team from 1934-46. It was originally called "Auburn Field", and then just "Cliff Hare Stadium", but the stadium was renamed to honor Jordan in 1973, while he was still coaching. Yeah, Notre Dame just hired Brian Kelly, but I wouldn't be averse to making it Fitzgerald-Ryan Field just to make sure he doesn't leave. (by the way, Jordan brand did create two distinct shoes called the Hare Jordan: one is just a remodeled Jordan I in unique colorways, including a special Easter edition, and the other is this monstrosity of a shoe which is, yes, a shoe modeled to fit a human sized rabbit's foot. The inspiration for these shoes came from the ad below for the Jordan VII, which predated the movie Space Jam by five years, but gave them a great idea.
If you'd like, I can write more, including about how the Space Jam Jordan XI's worn in the movie are widely considered the nicest of all time, but I have a funny feeling you've read enough about this extraordinarily tangential topic, and, well, this is already the longest post of all time.
But luckily, the post is over. Actual football stuff up next. .