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10 Fun Facts About... UMass

As a public service, and to prepare you for the upcoming football season, I will attempt to give you 10 facts you can use about the Badgers 2013 opponents to "impress" your friends.

You might think Victor Cruz would be the most famous Minuteman...
You might think Victor Cruz would be the most famous Minuteman...
Christian Petersen

If you ever meet me, for one, I'd be surprised, because I don't put pictures on the internet about all the adventures I have. For two, if you recognized me, you'd find out that I enjoy arcane bits and baubles of trivia. I've got stories I could tell. But you know what? I'm humble.


Anyway, I will give you some of my (and Google's) knowledge to help you prepare for potential anecdotes and slow spots in the upcoming games of football for the 2013 season. Some will be neat, some will be interesting. Some will just be true.

And we'll start from the beginning with the Minutemen.

1. After the Boston Marathon tragedy, the UMass spring game featured a tribute to the Boston Marathon when six runners who were unable to finish the Marathon were invited to take a lap around McGuirk Stadium, ending at midfield surrounded by a human tunnel of fans, kids and UMass football players. It was an emotional scene.

2. While Giants Wide Receiver Victor Cruz is definitely the most famous football player to set foot in Amherst, he is not their most famous athletic alumnus. After all, Cruz doesn't have the honorary doctorate yet. I mean, if you have a Julius Erving who graduated and give him the doctorate so he can remain "Doctor J" now and forever, he's going to be the most famous alumnus.

3. You know who was a college teammate of Doctor J's? Louisville head coach and multiple-time national champion Rick Pitino. It's true.

4. UMass has a pretty strong list of famous alumni in fields other than sports to their credit. You want good comedians? They'll give you Dana Gould and Rob Corddry. You want good music? They're credited with the formation of the Pixies and Grammy Award-winner Natalie Cole. How about actors? They have one-half of Paxton-Pullman and one of the rare actors to portray two different presidents in Bill Pullman as well as Jere Burns (Wynn Duffy) and Jeffrey Donovan (a.k.a. the "Burn Notice" guy).

5. And like how Chris Farley became tied to Marquette, UMass-Amherst gets Richard Gere.

6. In 1980, the UMass campus was closed for three entire days. For a water shortage. It got to the point where then-governor Ed King had to station state police on campus to deter looting.

7. UMass basketball developed a reputation in the 1990s on the backs of players like Marcus Camby and the coaching of John Calipari. In fact, the jokes about how Calipari's first Final Four came as a Kentucky Wildcat stemmed from the fact that he managed to recruit No. 1 picks who got into trouble through the vicissitudes of the NCAA system.

8. And none of that would have happened if former Temple Coach John Chaney made good on his threats...

9. You want to know who holds the tallest library in the United States? UMass does. Its W. E. B. DuBois library is a whopping 26 stories high.

10. There is a Wisconsin connection to Amherst. The first congressman from the Wisconsin 2nd (a.k.a. Madison's district) was a man named Mason Cole Darling. He was born in Amherst. After his time in Congress, he was elected to be the first Mayor in Fond du Lac's history. I'm reasonably sure this isn't going to be broadcasted when the Badgers and the Minutemen play. But it's interesting nonetheless.

There you go. Ten all-true facts and bits of arcane knowledge about UMass and the city that holds it. Now you know. Now you can impress (or annoy) your friends with it