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Better Know An Opponent: Norfolk State

This is the first in a (hopefully) six-part series highlighting 10 things you may not know about Mizzou’s opponents in the NCAA Tournament. Please keep in mind that while everything below is true, it’s meant in jest.

Better Know An Opponent, Vol. 1: 2009 NCAA Tournament Opponents
Part One – Cornell
Part Two – Marquette
Part Three – Memphis
Part Four – Connecticut

Better Know An Opponent, Vol. 2: 2010 NCAA Tournament Opponents
Part One – Clemson
Part Two – West Virginia

Better Know An Opponent, Vol. 3: 2011 NCAA Tournament Opponents
Part One – Cincinnati

Today’s profile: the Norfolk State Spartans

1) Norfolk State University is a state-supported historically black university in Norfolk, Virginia, founded in 1935. It’s one of 105 HBCUs (that’s historically black colleges and universities) in the nation, which means that it’s an institution of higher learning founded prior to 1964 for the purpose of helping the black community. And yes, I – someone whom my black friends and colleagues refer to as "HAHAHA DUDE SO WHITE" – had to look up what constitutes a historically black college or university. Congratulations, Norfolk State, on making me feel like an uncultured, sheltered, suburban idiot just one paragraph into this piece.

Another thing I learned while researching Norfolk State: there is a legitimate tier system to the higher education realm. Consider, for example, that NSU was founded in 1935 as a unit of Virginia Union University (the Norfolk Unit, that is). Around 1942, it became independent and known as Norfolk Polytechnic College. But wait! Two years later, that college became a part of Virginia State College. College. In 1969, it was separated from Virginia State College and became Norfolk State College. Finally, in 1979, it was granted university status, and renamed Norfolk State University.

That explains the sign hanging in G.W.C. Brown Hall.


2) The city of Norfolk -- because if you’re like me, you wake up every day thinking, "You know, I don’t know enough about Norfolk" – is home to the world’s largest Naval Station, Naval Station Norfolk. It takes up four miles of coastline and seven miles of piers. So, it’s about 28 square miles of naval badassery. If it were in our fair burgh of Columbia, Missouri, the naval station would take up just under half of the entire city. So, um, point of order: let’s not pick a war with Norfolk.

Anyways, Naval Station Norfolk is home to a whopping 67 naval ships, including five carriers (like the USS Enterprise…no, sadly, not that USS Enterprise, trust me, I looked it up and wished it to be true), 24 destroyers and eight "amphibious assault" ships. One of those amphibious assault ships is called the USS Wasp. It looks like this.


It does not look like this.


That’s an artist’s rendition, if you couldn’t tell.

3) Now, here at "Better Know An Opponent," we’ve come across some dumb school mottos. West Virginia’s motto, you may remember, was something like "Mountaineers and Mountain Dew Start With The Same Word" or something like that, I don’t know, I don’t have time to proofread or fact-check every one of these things, get off me bro.

But at Norfolk State…well, I think we’ve come across the worst, most convoluted, most ineffective motto yet. It’s stunningly bad.


(Keep in mind: this is real. I did not edit this at all.)


That’s right. "Norfolk State: Taking the Lead in Educational Attainment." That’s just…I mean…what?

No. No. This deserves a closer look. Let’s take this point by point.

"Norfolk State": Pretty self explanatory. That’s the school’s name (well, for now at least).

"Taking the Lead": Still good. You want your motto to be something about being at the head of the back, so we’re still rockin’ and rollin’, you guys.

"in Educational Attainment": And it all goes to crap at the end. Educational Attainment? What, exactly, does that mean? I mean, I know what it means – it means attaining something through education – but…wow! It’s like they have to spell it out for us that the "education" part is only a means, as the real goal is to "attain." That would be like Missouri rolling out a new motto:

"The University of Missouri: Learning Things In Classrooms To Do Things After We Leave The Classroom, By Which We Mean Get A Job and Earn A Living, Or Not, I Mean, It’s Ultimately Your Choice, But You Are Paying Us A Substantial Amount of Money, So, Yeah, You Got That? Also: Go Tigers."

Norfolk State University: Owners of the worst motto ever.

(Heck, even that’s a better motto!)

4) This…


…is Dr. Tony Atwater. This week, actually, he is being inaugurated as the fifth president of Norfolk State University. Atwater’s résumé is impressive: he just got done serving as a Senior Fellow of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and comes to NSU via Indiana University of Pennsylvania (where he was president) and Youngstown State (where he was provost). He’s also held administrative positions at Northern Kentucky, Rutgers, Connecticut and Toledo. Dr. Tony Atwater is a professional college administrator.

But…you see…there’s a problem. Dr. Tony Atwater, depending on whom you ask, might be a crook. Last June, Atwater resigned from his presidency at IUP after allegations of excessive expenditures. An investigation revealed that over his five years as president, Atwater spent $149,700 on food, lodging and travel (enough to buy approximately 75,000 Doritos Locos Tacos), $12,000 on trips to Vail, San Francisco and Montreal for events, $343,943 for residential and house-cleaning costs (Atwater is apparently just filthy)…and that’s on top of his $253,622 annual salary. All told, reports estimate that Atwater claimed more than $1.6 million in expenses – that is, aside from his annual salary – over five years.

But, yeah, Norfolk State students, I’m sure your tuition’s fine.


5) Norfolk State University is one of the few in the nation that offers a degree in Optical Engineering, which, according to Wikipedia (never wrong), is "the field of study that focuses on application of optics…such as lenses, microscopes, telescopes and other equipment that utilizes the property of light."

It’s also about lasers. How do I know this? Consider this photo taken at last year’s NSU Optical Engineering graduation ceremony.


Some of you probably don’t get that reference. Door’s on your left.

6) I know this is supposed to be a piece making fun of Mizzou’s upcoming opponent, but let’s be honest: Norfolk State is probably the coolest team Mizzou will ever play in the NCAA Tournament. I mean, think about some of the teams that Mizzou has played in past years. Actually, don’t think about it. I’ve made you a handy chart to compare them.


I hope this cleared that up.

7) It’s a rite of passage, a tradition upon which this Rock M Nation blog community depends and relies every year. It is…Embarrassing Alumni Time.


Welcome back to our life, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.


Derek T. Dingle, the senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine. To repeat: his name is Derek T. Dingle. That’s Derek T. Dingle.


Future Man. This concludes my commentary.


Paul Hines. Paul Hines was the offensive line coach for Herman Boone’s football team, the one that was immortalized in Remember the Titans. He was played by Gregory Alan Williams. Gregory Alan Williams was in Baywatch. A lot to like about this entry.


Former NBA player and father to former Missouri Tiger Glen, Bob Dandridge. Speaking of which, Glen Dandridge currently plays for the San Diego Surf. Glen Dandridge used to play for the Rochester Razorsharks. I would not like to meet a Razorshark.


Actor Tim Reid. By which I mean OH MY GOD THE DAD FROM SISTER, SISTER.


Vincent Brothers, former vice principal of John C. Fremont Elementary School in Bakersfield, California. Oh, and he was convicted of killing his wife, two sons, daughter and mother-in-law. I wonder if the school sent a letter home.

8) I need to point this out: this is Norfolk State’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. And, as you can imagine, they were awful excited.

I mean…wow. It makes it awful hard to root against them, you know? They’re a fun story – all first-time NCAA qualifiers are – and you know they’re going to be fired up for Friday.

Compare this, for example, to the scene when Kentucky was selected.


Or even when Missouri was selected.


Or when Kansas was selected.


So, while I won’t be cheering for Norfolk State, I won’t be cheering against them, either.

9) As Bill will likely tell you in his Nerdy Box Score Algorithm Number Orgy 2.0 Beta Breakdown with the Googles, Norfolk State really has one go-to guy that’s carried them all season: senior Kyle O’Quinn. O’Quinn is a big dude at 6-10 and 240 from Jamaica, New York (unstable city name, but whatever).

No, what we’re going to focus on here is the fact that Kyle O’Quinn has a Twitter account, which leads us to yet another episode of "ghtd36 Makes Up Tweets From Opposing Players or Coaches’ Twitter Accounts." It’s just a working title.




10) The Spartans football team has had measured success over the years, winning a pair of MEAC conference championships since their first season back in 1950. They’ve also produced a number of NFL players, including Detroit Lions CB Don Carey, former Ravens WR James Roe and former Falcons, Bills, Lions and Patriots WR Ray Jarvis.

But the curious thing about the Spartans’ football program is where they play: Dick Price Stadium, a fairly new (opened in 1997), beautiful 30,000-seat stadium right on campus. What’s so curious about it is that it’s named after Dick Price, a former football coach (and athletic director) at Norfolk State. Now, I get naming your stadium after a successful coach – Missouri fans certainly understand – but the issue is…Price…wasn’t that successful. He’s the winningest football coach in NSU history, but that’s not saying much.

In his tenure at NSU, he compiled a whopping 61-42-4 record. Sixty-one wins. I know it was a different era – he coached from 1974-1983 – but really? Sixty-one wins is all it takes to get a stadium named after you?

To wit, here are some stadiums that, if the 61-win rule were truly universal, you would find at college campuses across the nation.

Larry Blakeney Memorial Stadium at Troy

Mike Riley Field at Oregon State

And, of course…


Tune in (hopefully) Sunday for another edition of Better Know An Opponent!