SPORTS

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February 1, 2008

Who the heck are these guys, anyway?

Since our departure from the Big Ten in 1924, the name recognition of our opponents has diminished slightly. Instead of our weekend slate being full of games against Michigan, Illinois, and Notre Dame, we now play Loras, Benedictine, and Lewis and Clark. Most people couldn’t tell you anything about some of the schools we play, even the Maroons who go toe to toe with them. As I see it, it’s time for a little education on educational institutions.

The Principia: 500 undergraduates; Elsah, IL

The only school on our list whose title is preceded by an article, The Principia was established with a mission to “serve the cause of Christian Science.” The college does not accept gay students, nor does it allow openly gay teachers. While not particularly strong in athletics, the school generally has a decent football team—and likely no training room. The Lady Panther swim team recently placed fifth in the 11-team Chicago Invite.

Notable alumnus: Robert Duval, Oscar-winning actor famous for his role in The Godfather.

Hope College: 3,200; Holland, MI

This weekend the Flying Dutchmen will come into Chicago to battle the men’s tennis team. Back in Michigan, most students live in one of the college’s 72 cottages. Since 1987, every year the freshmen and sophomore men square off in a three hour–long tug-of-war marathon across the Black River. The tradition separates the men as “tuggers” and the women as “moralers.” The school has been criticized for this and other sexist institutions, and also for its lack of diversity—it’s 91 percent Caucasian. Ironically, it is the Flying Dutch(wo?)men basketball team that is their strongest athletic asset, capturing the 1990 and 2006 D-III national titles.

Notable alumnus: Carol van Voorst, the U.S. ambassador to Iceland.

Cornell College: 1,200. Mount Vernon, IA.

The school was named after tycoon William Wesley Cornell—who was a distant relative of Ezra Cornell, founder of the institution in Ithaca, NY—and now it just profits off sounding like the Ivy League school. Its 1,200 students are on the “block plan” schedule, meaning they only take one class at a time. Despite its tiny size, Cornell is known for its formidable wrestling program, which has won a total of eight individual national titles and boasts 30 All-Americans. The Maroon wrestlers recently traveled up to Iowa and came back with a 12th-place finish out of 13 teams.

Notable Staffer: Matt Hoover, winner of the second season of “Biggest Loser”—yeah, that’s it.

The above schools may be rather obscure, but you jump into a whole new level once you take a look at football’s 2007 schedule. Before launching into UAA play, our pigskinners face some foes off the beaten path.

Eureka College: 680; Eureka, IL

Founded by a group of abolitionists who left Kentucky because of slavery, it was the first school in Illinois to educate women on the same level as men. Eureka, which accepts 73 percent of its applicants, apparently appeals to those who cannot handle the cold, because classes on Fridays are cancelled. You could say Eureka’s athletic program is still developing, and the Maroons went on to pound the Red Devils 51–6 in their season finale.

Famous Alumnus: Ronald Reagan.

Concordia University Chicago: 1,000. River Forest, IL.

Sound familiar? In 2006, the board of directors settled on this name, after previously operating under the titles of Corcordia Teachers’ College and Concordia University. The school is affiliated with the Lutheran Church, and its mission statement boasts that the school is “centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” On September 8, the Cougars fell victim to two rushing and two passing touchdowns courtesy of third-year quarterback John Kiernan. One other note for those with upcoming midterms: the school’s website takes prayer requests for its required morning services.

Notable Alumni: None

MacAlester College: 1,900; St. Paul, MN

In 2006, MacAlester was named “America’s Hottest Liberal Arts College” by Newsweek. This was good publicity for the school, but ironic because of its frigid location. In the bad publicity department, last year the school came under heavy fire after students held a party called “Politically Incorrect” at which students dressed up in KKK costumes and nooses. During the 1970s the Fighting Scots’ football program endured a 50-game losing streak. They have since improved, but they nonetheless dropped a 21–13 contest to the Maroons this fall.

Very Notable Alumni: Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the UN, and former Vice President Walter Mondale.

As we’ve seen, there are some pretty crazy schools out there—and the Maroons have a vow to beat them all. So the next time someone mistakes the U of C for UIC, just be thankful that we’re still better known than The Principia.