COMMENT: 10 things you didn't know about Navy

Thursday, December 31, 2009 | 12:03 a.m. CST; updated 1:02 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 31, 2009

HOUSTON — It doesn't feel like a farewell. More like a reunion tour. After a month of eating poorly and completely embracing American consumerism, "10 Things" is back for one last ride around the block.

The Missouri Tigers are in Houston this week enjoying all the festivities, gifts and arbitrary status associated with the 2009 Texas Bowl. When we originally learned that Missouri was headed for a bowl we were hoping for an obscure opponent that would present plenty of worthy material for a postseason edition of the 10 things. Wait, Missouri's playing a team full of classy guys who will eventually serve and protect their country?

Well ... shoot.

We're not the classiest bunch here at the 10 things, but we respect our country's armed forces and everything they do. Does that mean we can't have one last bit of fun? Not so fast, my friend. Not so fast.

And with that, here are the 10 things you didn't know about Navy.

10. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo is the first head coach at any level of college football who is of Samoan descent. It's quite an accomplishment for the man they call "Coach Ken." Personally, we're just glad he's OK with Coach Ken.

9. The Herndon Climb is a Naval Academy tradition that has been taking place for decades. Following the graduation ceremony, 1,000 of the previous year's "plebes," or introductory class, charge toward a 21-foot monument that has been covered in more than 200 pounds of lard. They pile on top of one another in an effort to climb to the top and replace a white Dixie cup with an upperclassman's hat. Go ahead and pick your own problem with this situation. We're going to choose the 200 pounds of melting lard. You know, the fatty, white guck that melts in the sun causing a terrible stench to filter throughout the crowd of several thousand spectators. Yeah, definitely the lard.

8. Navy adopted blue and gold as its colors in 1892. Previously, each class at the Naval Academy chose its own class colors. The record from an 1892 meeting of the Naval Academy Auxiliary Athletic Association meeting read, "The Committee reported favorable results of a conference with Naval Cadets as to the probability of adoption of Navy Blue and Gold as Academy colors." Translation: We ran out of colors.

7. A live goat mascot that would eventually lead to a line of mascots named "Bill the Goat" first appeared at a Navy game in 1893. That seems reasonable. Livestock had been a part of Navy life for over 200 years. Livestock were carried on ships to provide food, milk and were sometimes used as pets. But the story about how they chose the goat? Not so reasonable. Legend has it after a well-loved pet goat died aboard a Navy ship the officers decided to save the skin and have it mounted. Two officers were given the skin when the ship docked in Baltimore, but on the way to the taxidermist they stopped by a Navy football game, goat skin in hand. Just before halftime one of the officers thought he'd provide some halftime entertainment. So after the end of the second quarter he slipped on the goat skin and began running up and down the sideline. Navy eventually won the game, and the victory was credited to the spirit of the fallen goat. If you ask us, the spirit was more Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill than Bill the Goat. It puts the lotion on its skin!

6. Former Navy and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach is one of eight players to both win the Heisman Trophy and be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. He was also Super Bowl MVP. And a Vietnam War veteran. And the face of America's team. It hasn't yet been announced whether Mr. Staubach plans to cure cancer, bring peace to the Middle East and solve world hunger.

5. The Naval Academy was first established in Annapolis, Md., in 1845 and has been there ever since. The academy is referred to by several names including "The Boat School" and "The Academy," but it is often referred to as just "Annapolis," which undoubtedly spurred the 2006 motion picture of the same name starring a yet to be even arguably legitimate James Franco and former male model Tyrese. Can we just give up on the male model-to-actor thing? How many times has that actually worked out? Seriously. And don't you dare say Ashton Kutcher. Don't. You. Dare.

4. Among Navy's athletic teams is an unofficial, but still competitive croquet team. Starting in the early '80s the 28th Company of the Brigade of Midshipmen began facing off with a group of students from St. John's College in Annapolis following a challenge from a Midshipman that Navy could beat St. John's at any sport. Thousands attend the annual match, which often features the Johnnies sporting the most ridiculous outfits they can find, including in 2006 Commie Red T-shirts emblazoned with gold sickle and croquet mallet designed to stir images of a Cold War-type rivalry. As of that year, Navy hadn't done much to back up its original bit of smack talk. The Johnnies led the series 19-5.

3. The Navy men's fencing team won NCAA Division I championships in 1950, 1959, and 1962 and was runner-up in 1948, 1953, 1960, and 1963. Maybe it's just us, but that seems a little unfair. The service academies can compete in fencing? That would be like letting students from Harvard compete in pretentiousness.

2. Navy's Bancroft Hall is the largest college dormitory in the world. The building houses 4,000 midshipmen and contains 1,700 rooms, 4.8 miles of hallways and 33 acres of floor space. The thing is so big that it has own its ZIP code. No, really, it does: 21412.

1. As part of meals in Navy's massive dining area, King Hall, midshipmen are often given a beverage called Punch Sports Drink that is manufactured solely for the Naval Academy. Florida started the trend with Gatorade back in the '60s, but when naming its version Navy decided that Midshipmenade sounded neither delicious nor refreshing.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Rodd Browne December 31, 2009 | 12:50 p.m.

11. Three service academies, USMA, USNA, and USAFA compete each year for the Commander In Chiefs Trophy awarded to the football team among the three with the best seasons record against each other. As of this December Navy has not lost a football game to either Army or Air Force in seven seasons (14 games). This dominence has not always been Navy's. In recent years Air Force enjoyed a great run of CIC trophies and earlier on Army was very dominant in the classic gridiron event.

PS: My son's class graduated from USNA last May having never lost a game to Army or Air Force. Go Navy!

(Report Comment)
Lee Seligman January 1, 2010 | 4:48 a.m.

As of 12 December make that 8 straight over Woo Poo and 15 straight over the 3 C-in-C contenders ... oh, yeah, can anyone tell me why Mizzou was favored today ? ... (;o]

(Report Comment)
Andy Carpenter January 1, 2010 | 12:36 p.m.

I can't believe they let you put the lotion on its skin.

Imma miss this column. You have done a wonderful job.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.