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Columbia Missourian

10 Things You Didn't Know About Furman University

By Robert Mays
September 17, 2009 | 2:09 p.m. CDT
The Paladins ride into town on Saturday.

Ten things you didn't know about Furman seems like sort of a redundant title.

Because let's be honest. You don't know anything about Furman. But it's OK. Neither did we.


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So we'll start simple.

Furman is located just north of Greenville, S.C.

Too easy? Nah. You didn't know that either. Sean Weatherspoon did. But he was born in Greenville. And that's just cheating.

And now for the 10 more interesting than the other things you didn't know about Furman.

10. Mark Sanford is a Furman alumnus. Sanford is that governor of South Carolina that was in the news earlier this summer after he forgot that, you know, he was a governor, and decided that disappearing for four days was OK. It was later revealed that Sanford had been visiting his mistress in Argentina during his absence. Sanford's bulletproof alibi? He was hiking the Appalachian Trail, (wink) if you know what I mean.

9. Some of Furman's other best-known alums? Charles H. Townes, John Broadus Watson and Keith Lockhart. Did we miss something? Nobody changed the definition of "best-known," did they? OK. Just making sure.

8. In 1896 Furman quarterback and head coach H.P. Young managed to shoot himself in the wrist and as a result had to have his hand amputated. Insert turn-of-the-century (former New York Giant and self-inflicted-gunshot-wound-aficionado) Plaxico Burress joke here.

7. After Clemson defeated Virginia in an afternoon game October 8, 1960, the water-repellent pants the team wore were shipped to Greenville for Furman to wear during its night game with William & Mary. Now, we know the '60s were interesting and all, but we're pretty sure that pants were still a pretty standard thing.

6. Furman safety Max Lerner had his final high school football season documented on the MTV show "Two-A-Days." The show featured plenty of standard high school drama, but Lerner's got a long way to go in the substance abuse and public displays of nudity departments if he wants to reach A-list MTV reality star status.

5. In a perversely cruel decision, the Furman student body voted to change the school's nickname to the "Paladins" in 1961 after stints as both the "Purple Fighters" and "Purple Hurricane." Really Furman student body? Paladins? Really? The foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court? Your school shares a state with a school whose mascot is the Gamecocks. You regularly play a team called the Fightin' Blue Hens. And you still managed to lose out in the nickname derby? Really?

4. Furman suffered the worst loss in the history of its program in 1918 when it was defeated by Georgia Tech 118-0. The loss doesn't look as bad when you consider that Cumberland University (then Cumberland College) lost to Tech 222-0 just two years before. And yes, albeit inexplicable, Cumberland University is still allowed to have a football team. And no, we don't know where it is either.

3. As part of a May Experience (?) class in 2009, Furman students built a replica of Henry David Thoreau's cabin that he lived in while writing Walden. However, in an effort to conserve space the students decided to leave out the bed. Someone might need to re-explain the whole replica thing to these guys. Hey! If we leave out the desk and the chairs we'll have even more room!

2. Furman alum Thomas Goldsmith is credited with the creation of one of the first video games, a missile simulation game where the player could shoot down an airplane with a beam, in 1947. Herman Lay, the founder of the Lay Corporation, which eventually became America's largest snack food company, the Frito-Lay Corporation, was also a Furman grad. Ladies and gentleman, Furman University! Contributing to childhood obesity for more than 60 years!

1. Clayton "Peg-Leg" Bates is from Fountain Inn, S.C. Yeah, it's not exactly Greenville, but you'll thank us in a minute. Bates lost a leg in a cotton gin accident at age 12 and subsequently taught himself how to tap dance with a wooden peg leg. Bates appeared on the Ed Sullivan show about 20 times, one of which is shown below. Just wait until he pulls out his signature "Airplane" move at the 2:00 mark. Sorry print readers, but you're really gonna need the Internet to get how awesome is this. Got a problem? Take it up with Internet "inventor" Al Gore. We're just the messengers.