Tag Archive | centre college

WORD UP! The History of “The 12th Man” (or Why Seattle Can Thank My Alma Mater for This One)

From time to time, it’s fun to dig into sports terms and rules. This week: The 12th Man.

Even the Space Needle gets into the game.

Even the Space Needle gets into the game.

If you’re not familiar with The 12th Man, you’ll hear this term a lot this weekend in reference to Seattle Seahawks fans and the NFC Championship against San Francisco. It’s fairly simple: Because there are 11 players on the field at a time in football, loud, excited fans are referred to as the “12th Man” – that extra helping hand to push the ball into the end zone, or hold the defensive line.

The first recorded use of “12th Man” was in a 1912 edition of the University of Iowa alumni newsletter. But it was Texas A&M who embraced it in the 20s, when the team was struggling against DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS CENTRE COLLEGE (where yours truly happened to attend). The Aggies had so many injuries, the coach sent for a cadet, E. King Gill, who had traveled just to watch the game. The coach had Gill, who had tried out for football but did not made the team, suit up, just in case he was needed. He wasn’t, and A&M won 22-14. Gill reportedly said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.” His team spirit was celebrated as “The 12th Man,” and it became A&M’s mantra to this day.

Seattle began using the term in the early 2000s because their CenturyLink Field is so loud, the other team can’t hear themselves. As a student unfortunate enough to suffer Seattle grunge as the landmark music movement during college, I loved a recent demonstration of a Fox reporter comparing a decibel gauge at both a nearby grunge show, and a Seahawks game—the game won by a mile. Reportedly, the stadium noise level created a small earthquake during last week’s defeat of New Orleans.

Each Seattle game, a “12” flag is raised, a giant “12” banner is passed around the stands, and thousands of fans are loud and proud (maybe a little too loud—Texas A&M trademarked the 12th Man phrase and sued the Seahawks a decade ago, but they reached a licensing agreement).

Something must be working—the Seahawks have won six straight home playoff games. Word. Up.


High Five! Denver Upends KC, JJ Sprints to Title, and a UFC Champ–or Is He?

1) Despite two ankles wrapped like “mummy” and not “Manning,” an injured Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first defeat Sunday night, 27-17 at Denver. KC was the last undefeated team in the NFL—a surprising and commendable turn of events for a team that ended last season with a fired coach, a player’s murder-suicide, and a new head coach, Andy Reid, who himself was fired after a long, spotty career with the Eagles.  The matchup was also anticipated because Denver and KC are also in the same division, the AFC West, and are two of the nation’s best teams, both now at 9-1. Denver is still without head coach John Fox, recovering from a successful aortic valve transplant two weeks ago.

Georges St-Pierre

You should have seen the other guy. (Accccctually the other guy looked pretty OK.)

2) In a questionable split-decision, followed by an even more bizarre statement of potential retirement, beloved—and bloodied—UFC champion Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his welterweight title a ninth time Saturday, beating Johny Hendricks. As a normally “GSP”-loving crowd booed, St-Pierre (25-2) was named the winner, then stated he was having personal problems and was going to “go away for a little bit.” Although classy in his speech, a clearly stunned Hendricks remarked how unfair it would be for St-Pierre to retire, and deny him a rematch. UFC president Dana White claimed he does not expect St-Pierre to retire and will immediately seek to line up the two fighters again. “Georges knew he lost, his corner knew he lost, Hendricks knew he won, and his corner knew they won,” said White.

3) Less than a week after No. 2 Michigan State knocked off No. 1 Kentucky, J.J. Mann set off another men’s basketball upset when he sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds left to lift unranked Belmont over No. 12 North Carolina 83-80 on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Tipoff. Mann finished with a career-best 28 points. The Tar Heels’ James McAdoo was not far behind, scoring a career-high 27 points with 13 rebounds.

4) Jimmie Johnson won his sixth NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in eight years in Homestead, Fla., Sunday, putting him behind only Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., each with seven titles. Johnson is the youngest driver to win six titles, reaching that mark 83 days before Petty. He’s also the fastest to six titles, as neither Petty nor Earnhardt did it in an eight-year span. Rounding out this year’s drivers, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon. Finishing in the middle of the Sprint Cup pack was Danica Patrick in 27th.

5) Finally, congratulations to my alma mater, Centre College, and its field hockey team, which lost in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament this weekend to Christopher Newport College, 1-0. It was the Lady Colonels’ first appearance in the tournament. Now, is there an American professional field hockey league? Not that I know of. Will you ever hear Shelby Judkins or Kirby Roberts on ESPN? Probably not. But you might see them owning it someday. Or in a boardroom, a corner office, maybe even the Oval Office. As the NCAA commercials say, most student-athletes will go pro in something other than sports. I can’t wait to see what these ladies do. Well done!