Thursday, November 09, 2006

Indiana vs. Michigan: Alumni Showdown

Since GZ actually has historical data to work with this week, I am handling the best of five(ish) alumni match-up for the Indiana game.

The "rule" is basically that we find some major alumni from the opposition university and try to find a Michigan analog, and then face them off head to head. Some are straight-forward, others require more effort. As this is for entertainment purposes only, please, no wagering.

Just missing the cut for the Hoosiers:
Joe Buck
(Joe likely would have made it if he didn't come as a package deal with McCarver. We hate McCarver. We also, as The Onion has led us to believe, feel that Joe did indeed join in a "Let's Go Cards" chant during the World Series. No, we are NOT bitter.)

Kevin Kline
(Because I highly approve of Mr. Kline's Academy Award winning work, he's largely listed here to get in one of my favorite lines from a movie ever on the page, granted spoken to him rather than by him: "Let me correct you on a few things; Aristotle was not Belgian! The central message of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself!' And the London Underground is not a political movement! Those are all mistakes Otto, I looked them up.")

John T. Thompson
(OK, we'll admit it, we had absolutely no one to match him with from Michigan, and moreover, this would have been a cakewalk for the Hoosiers. I mean, come on, he aided in the development of the Springfield M1903 rifle and the M1911 pistol, and was the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun, aka the Trench Broom, the Tommy Gun. I mean, come on!)

Ernie Pyle
(He has some detractors of recent vintage (as do most historical figures), but GZ will point to the fact that he was America's first aviation journalist, and I will point to the fact that with one column, he successfully lobbied for the concept of "fight pay" (for Army troops in a combat zone), a fact reflected in the notion that they dubbed it the "Ernie Pyle bill"

Will Shortz
(Come on, he invented his own degree! How many of us can even claim that? Seriously, you know what you want to do for a living, and then you make up the way to make it work. Enigmaology! That is ingenuity people, oh and he also has a law degree from Virginia.)

The Matchups
Wendell Willkie vs. Thomas Dewey
Wendell Wilkie
Thomas Dewey (1944)  Thomas Dewey (1948)

You know, I understand that FDR looked pretty unbeatable in 1940, even if he was breaking America's long-term two-term precedent.  But as the GOP headed into Philadelphia in 1940, the three leading candidates had weak support and allowed Willkie, a former Democrat without any political experience, to snag the nomination.  If you've ever heard the whole opening of "God Bless America", when Kate sings about "While the storm clouds gather, far across the sea", well, that's pretty much what sunk the Willkie campaign.  We should credit Willkie for his bi-partisan spirit of cooperation with FDR throughout the early stages of America's involvement in World War II.

Thomas Dewey, former gangbuster prosecutor, a governor of New York, and the so-called "little man on the wedding cake".  Namesake of the award for the finest prosecutor in each of the five boroughs of New York.  Speaker of the obvious platitude during the 1948 campaign, and victim of one of the greatest comebacks in American political history.

Advantage: Michigan. At least Dewey has an infamous pop culture moment in the sun, no matter how fleeting the victory.

Tavis Smiley
Margaret Bourke-White
Tavis Smiley The Chrysler Building as photographed by Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White was the first Western photograph allowed into the Soviet Union.  She was the first female photojournalist hired by Henry Luce for Time and Life and the first female photojournalist allowed into a combat zone.  Tavis Smiley has done a great deal of reporting himself, first with BET Tonight, then with NPR, and now with PBS.  He is also the youngest African-American to have a professional school and center named after him on a college or university campus when the The Tavis Smiley School of Communications and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies opened at Texas Southern.

Advantage: Indiana. Bourke-White college hopped a lot, and though the photograph shown above is pretty damn cool, I like Tavis.  He does a very good job of reporting hard news and is an underrated interviewer. 

Mark Cuban
William Davidson
Mark Cuban Mr. D

Mark Cuban.  Internet Billionaire, in part, as he admits, because he knows exactly when to get out.  Took the billions of dollars he made from selling to Yahoo! (a company he co-developed, in part, to allow him to listen to Indiana basketball games in Dallas) and bought his own NBA franchise, the Dallas Mavericks.  Turned the Mavericks from perennial laughingstock into perennial contender.  Also managed to rack up  $1,665,000 in fines from the NBA, in large part because he speaks his mind (or because he's completely crazy...we leave it to the reader to decide).  For all of the sound and fury, has zero NBA titles to his credit.  

William Davidson, "Mr. D",the chairman of Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world's largest manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass.  Owner of the Detroit Pistons, the Tampa Bay Lightning, oh and financed the building of the Palace of Auburn Hills, one of America's finest arenas.  Has three NBA titles, two WNBA titles, and a Stanley Cup.  Oh, and still rocks the Members Only jacket (see above).

Advantage: Michigan. It's very close.  I like Mark Cuban, in part because he is basically what happened if a fan had a billion dollars and bought the team he loved, BUT didn't run the team like a fantasy team.  That said, Mr. D has three NBA titles and once apparently smacked down Mark Cuban at an NBA owner's meeting.  He's like your grandfather, but feisty.

Jim Jones
Theodore Kaczynski
The Rev. Jim Jones Have you seen this man?

The man that gave pop culture the phrase "drinking the Kool Aid" (thought it should be noted it was the cheaper, inferior Flavor Aid) and successfully lobbied for suicide prevention barriers to be installed on the Golden Gate Bridge (oh, the irony) vs. a man better known by his FBI title and his manifesto.

Advantage: Push.  There are no winners here.

Jimbo Wales
Larry Page
Wiki Dude Google Guy

OK, technically speaking, Mr. Wales did not earn his Ph.D. from Indiana, he took finance classes but did not complete his dissertation.  I can't be completely sure that's accurate though, as I have taken several of these facts from Wikipedia.  Mr. Page earned his BS from Michigan in Engineering and went on to Stanford, where he would meet Sergey Brin and give birth to a search engine so ubiquitous in its ability to search, that M-W and OED are considering making the word an entry.

Advantage: Michigan. Far be it from me to diss the wonderful computer scientists that inhabit North Campus.  Though Wikipedia is probably my second favorite site on the net, Google is my favorite, and that can't be ignored.

That's all I have for today.  GZ should be around with a real preview, you know, actual football content, sometime soon.

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