Over the next few weeks, I plan on doing Q-and-A's with opposing bloggers about Northwestern's football season. The only problem is that the questions I ask are generally different from those normal people ask, and then one question about football.
It turns out there aren't any South Dakota football blogs - at least none that I could find - so for the fourth opposing blogger in the series, I sent Herman on an all-expenses-paid trip to Vermillion, South Dakota - I believe it was a pit stop for him on the way back from Belgrade - so he could learn up on the 'Yotes and tell me us everything we want to know about the school.
SoP: Northwestern made the switch this offseason from Adidas uniforms to Under Armour. I've heard rumors that South Dakota is displeased with the performance of apparel supplied by their current provider, Acme - are there any plans to switch? Related: with Texas-San Antonio transitioning to the FBS, does this mean the end of the storied rivalry between your two programs?
Herman: First off, thank you for paying attention to the great state of South Dakota. Although I have never lived there, I have gained a keen and vast knowledge of the state from Wikipedia and Google, and I have come to love it as my own. I hope every one of your readers has the opportunity one day to visit this gorgeous place, or at least look at pictures of it on the Internet. Now, I know our boys will be in for a tough game against your Wildcats, but don't be surprised if we win you over with our upper Midwestern charm and industriousness. As our state slogan says: "Great faces. Great places."
Back to your question, it is quite ironic that an athletic program with the mascot Coyote would hire Acme as its apparel supplier. As you note, this has come with disastrous results. Quite often, our uniforms would explode on us, or turn into a gigantic anvil that lands on our head. Needless to say, this is not conducive to winning, especially
when we play the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, who hold a 4,623-0 record against us. Our record of futility is not dissimilar to Northwestern's record against bowl games, I understand. Fortunately, with the move of UTSA to FBS, we will only rarely have to face our nemesis. We can move on to new rivals, like Cal State Bakersfield, Butte College and Dalton State.
If you could make a Mount Rushmore out of things that are great about South Dakota, would Mount Rushmore make the cut?
It would have to, since our official state nickname is "The Mount Rushmore State." We also call ourselves "The Sunshine State" on account of our long, harsh winters giving us great appreciation for the two months of sunshine that we get.
But seriously, though, there is a long list of things that makes South Dakota grand. There's bison. Sturgis. The Badlands. Brock Lesnar. Deadwood. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Adam Vinatieri. Bob Barker. The list goes on and on. Limiting it to just four is a difficult task.
I do like the idea of Mount Rushmore having a Mount Rushmore carved onto it, which would have a tiny Mount Rushmore carved onto it, which would have a tinier Mount Rushmore carved onto it, which would have an even tinier Mount Rushmore carved onto it, like when you go to one of those hall of mirrors and see a gazillion tinier and tinier reflections of yourself. With the original being the size of an entire mountainside, the 1,000th iteration would still be like 20 feet tall.
Remember when North Dakota tried to change their state name to just "Dakota"? Those guys are jerks, huh?
Lakota my Dakota, I hate those guys. You don't see North Carolina strutting around trying to change their name to Carolina and saying, "My barbecue is better than yours!" No, those people are nice and civilized. Not like those barbarians to our north, with their racist university mascot. Here at the University of South Dakota, we have taken great pains to ensure that the coyote nation has full approval of our using them as a mascot. We believe our close relationship with our coyote friends, based on respect and mutual understanding, has been productive for both sides, such as when the coyotes agreed in 1972 to allow the destruction of 10 acres of prime coyote habitat for the construction of our home football and basketball arena, the Dakota Dome. A win-win for everybody.
Who's Pierre, and what's so great about him?
In 1831, a representative of the American Fur Company, Pierre Chouteau Jr., built a fort on the bluff above the Missouri River. Presumably because he liked hearing his own name, he named the site Fort Pierre. As more settlers began to arrive in the Dakotas following the establishment of a railroad line, a ferry landing was built across the river from the fort. The landing grew into a settlement, and it was called Pierre. In 1889, when South Dakota became the 40th state in our union, Pierre became the capital, on account of its location near the geographical center of the state.
But let's go back to what made Mr. Chouteau so great. Pierre was born in St. Louis to a French family that was one of the founding settlers in the region. Starting out in business at age 15, he amassed a fortune of millions in the fur trade, also branching out into railroads, mining, shipping, land speculation and bootlegging. His success came thanks to cut-throat business practices that involved, among other things, cheating Indian tribes, ruthlessly undercutting competitors, running illegal distilleries, and forging cozy relationships with senators (this bio mentions a "suspiciously close" affiliation with Senator Thomas Benton, but unfortunately does not elaborate) A man of the people, he would sign his name as Pierre when writing to the French, Pedro when writing to the Spanish, and Peter when writing to the British and Americans. Among his positive contributions, he pioneered the use of steamboats on the Missouri River. Alas, all good things must come to an end. In 1859, at the age of 70, Pierre went blind. Three years later, his wife who was also his first cousin (ew) died. Pierre himself died in 1865 in St. Louis "rich but not universally beloved, ... one of the great manipulators in the history of United States commerce." (same link as above)
South Dakota is listed in both the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference per the Wikipedia. Wanna help me out?
This is simple. The Summit League does not offer football, so all of our other sports, like basketball and mashed potato wrestling (doesn't this look good, wholesome fun?), are contested in the Summit League. For football, we are in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which despite the name, does not have an affiliation with the Missouri Valley Conference, though five members of the football conference do belong to it. We are newish members of both leagues, having joined the Summit League last season and the Missouri Valley Football Conference for this season. In fact, we are new to Division I, having completed our transition from Division II just last year. I'd clue you in to how awesome we were in Division II, but I only became a fan 15 minutes ago, so I don't know that information.
THE ONE QUESTION ABOUT FOOTBALL: Any chance for the 'Yotes against Northwestern? Like, any chance?
If my beloved 'Yotes win and I die of happiness, just bury me at Wounded Knee by that Little House on the Prairie. I'll be whooping around like a Crazy Horse, a Sitting Bull in a china shop, hopped on Wall Drug, laughing at how you Custered your last stand. What a Calamity Jane that would be!