A History of Madness

So, young college freshman, you're thinking about ditching History 102 this week and catching the opening round of March Madness? Salve any guilt you might be feeling with a quick history pop quiz, courtesy of the eight teams likely to earn top seats in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. It might just be history's version of the Elite Eight.

1. Historically speaking, a Kansas Jayhawk would most fear:

A. Imposition of the BYU Honor Code on campus

B. An Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle

C. Avian Flu

D. Josey Wales

Answer: D. The nickname "Jayhawk," or more precisely "Jayhawker," can be linked to Kansans who sided with anti-slavery forces in the years leading up to the Civil War. When such partisanship ultimately erupted in violence, "Jayhawker" became often associated with the irregular guerrilla bands that terrorized Kansas' Civil War homefront. The thugs who massacred Wales' family at the beginning of the film The Outlaw Josey Wales eventually served with "redleg" Jayhawkers - much to their ultimate regret. As Wales observed, "Dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy."

2. The Ohio State Buckeyes owe their nickname to:

A. Captain Benjamin Franklin "Buckeye" Pierce, who led OSU's 1950 Big Ten champion basketball squad in scoring and who later served with the 4077th MASH during the Korean War

B. The aggressive glare of the male Odocoileus virginianus during the fall rutting season

C. A lost bet

D. A brawny Revolutionary War colonel

Answer: D. Colonel Ebenezer Sproat, a 6'4" man of "large girth and swashbuckling mannerisms," so impressed Indian delegates at the first court session of the Northwest Territory in Ohio that they greeted his arrival with shouts of "Hetuck, hetuck!" - the Indian word for Ohio's mighty buckeye tree.

3. With respect to the panther, identify which of the following are true statements:

A. Mascot of the University of Pittsburgh

B. Also known as the catamount, puma, cougar, and Nittany lion

C. With respect to the eastern cougar, declared extinct by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service earlier this month

D. According to Anchorman's Brian Fantana, a key ingredient of the fragrance Sex Panther, by Odeon. "It's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good . . . They've done studies, you know. They say sixty percent of the time, it works every time."

E. All of the above

Answer: E. But be prepared -- as Ron Burgundy noted, "It's a formidable scent; it stings the nostrils in a good way."

4. Brigham Young University was named for:

A. The player-coach and offensive left tackle responsible for introducing football to the Salt Lake City campus in 1896

B. The designer of the mascots of 2002's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City

C. The Vermont native who led the colonization of Utah in 1847, founded Salt Lake City, and led the Mormon church until his death in 1877

D. The songwriter who penned The Osmonds' first No. 1 hit, "One Bad Apple," in 1971.

Answer: The correct answer is C, although "One Bad Apple" was, in fact, The Osmonds' first single to reach the top of the charts, no doubt propelled by such inspired lyrics as "But you're afraid that if you give in, someone else will come along, and sock it to you again."

5. Duke's Blue Devils nickname traces its lineage to:

A. In the late 1940s, a cerulean-robed cult that performed arcane sacrifices to the ghost of James Naismith in the boiler room of Cameron Indoor Stadium Arena every winter solstice

B. Durham Blue Devil Loose Leaf Tobacco

C. A corps of elite blue-bereted French mountain troops

D. The DC Comics superhero Blue Devil, first introduced in 1984 to battle the demon villain Nebiros

Answer: C. Although likely only a Duke grad would use the word "cerulean" in casual conversation, and although rumor has it that Nebiros was, in fact, a UNC fan, the correct answer is C. The moniker is derived from the French "les Diables Bleus," the nickname given during World War I to the renowned Chasseurs Alpins, the French Alpine light infantry battalion.

6. North Carolinians earned the moniker "Tarheel":

A. During early colonists' first winter in North Carolina, when they survived by dining on the large black mussels that local Indians called "tarheels"

B. When the bus taking UNC's basketball squad to the Southern Conference championship game in 1922 became mired in recently laid asphalt

C. After noted blues musician Clifford "Tarheel" Jones opened a roadhouse just outside the campus in 1957, the year UNC won its first national championship

D. Due to the state's reputation for turpentine and tar production in the 18th and 19th centuries, which later led North Carolina troops to be labeled as "tar heels" when they "stuck like tar" during a Civil War battle and refused to retreat.

Answer: D. In fact, after one close battle, Robert E. Lee once reportedly stated "God bless the Tar Heel boys," a sentiment rarely expressed elsewhere in the ACC.

7. Another synonym for Fighting Irish might be:

A. Bellicose Gaels

B. Combative Celts

C. Wild Geese

D. All of the above

Answer: D. The Gaels were a subset of the indigenous Celts who inhabited much of Europe, to include Ireland, in early history. But with respect to the term "Wild Geese," it refers to those exiled and expatriate Irish soldiers who left Ireland to serve in continental European armies in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries - much to the delight of their ultimate employers. They "are people tough and strong," one Spaniard noted, "and nor the cold weather or bad food could kill them easily." Rudy Ruettiger would have been proud.

8. Historically, a young longhorn might have been found quenching its thirst:
A. Along the Chisholm Trail

B. Along the Oregon Trail

C. Along the Natchez Trace

D. Until police busted an underage Jenna Bush for a fake ID while attempting to purchase a margarita, at Chuy's in Austin

Answer: A. However, credit also given for D. And anyone who ever enjoyed a margarita at Chuy's would surely forgive Jenna's youthful indiscretion.

Grading Your Performance. If you are still reading at this point, give yourself an A and go catch a game. Go Terriers! ("God loves a terrier" -- Gerry and Cookie Fleck, Best in Show)