Boise State hopes to host a Halloween House of Horrors for San José State (political correctness dictates that I must put that little swash above the 'e') this Saturday at Bronco Stadium. The Broncos are coming off a defense-led, crappy-snap-filled beatdown of Hawaii and the Spartans are coming off bye week (equally taxing, no doubt). Most fans, like me, know little about San José State outside of Jeff "Ginger" Garcia and some recent inexplicably-close games there. Needless to say, there is a lot to be learned about this week's foe (don't worry, Kellen Moore already knows their defense intimately)...so let's explore through the magic of factoids and childish jokes. It's time to get to know your enemy, Bronco Nation...so take notes
Ten things Bronco fans probably didn't know about San José or their sunny southern sanctuary
10) San José State University, established in 1857 as Minn's Evening Normal School, is the oldest public university in the state of California and the founding campus of the California State University system. It should be considered nothing more than a spooky coincidence that current head football coach Dick Tomey was established the very same year.
9) Krazy George Henderson is a San José State alum and resident cheerleader. He is credited with inventing the audience wave. For his efforts, Krazy George was recently inducted in my Guys who invented annoying things Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined next to the inventors of the Macarena, the pan flute, and Richard Simmons.
"I'm not just crazy...I'm krazy"
8) The song Do You Know the Way to San José earned Dionne Warwick a Grammy award and was a top 10 hit in 1968. The follow-up single, Do You Know the Way to Rancho Cucamonga was less well received.
7) San José, California is home to the Winchester Mystery House. Once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester rifle fortune, the home confounded locals and delighted sub-contractors as it was constantly under construction for 38 years. Legend says that after the death of her husband (William Winchester) and daughter, Sarah consulted a medium that told her that she must build a house and never cease building it or the spirits that killed her family would come after her too...so she ordered the home to be built and constantly added on to, complete with maze-like hallways and staircases and doors that led to nothing more than brick walls. There are 160 rooms in the mansion as well as 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, and two basements. One basement was to store furniture and other household amenities, the other was to store a whole lot of crazy that Sarah Winchester appeared to have been hoarding.
6) San José State's one undefeated season in football came in 1939 under coach Dudley "Dud" DeGroot. They went 13-0 and recorded 8 shutouts. DeGroot was apparently quite a guy, he is the winningest coach in the history of the Washington Redskins franchise, won a Rugby gold medal in the 1924 Olympics, was Stanford's first All-American, held a doctorate, and was once one of the foremost ornithologists (he studied birds) and oologists (and their eggs) in the world. Though not documented, I think he also possessed heat vision and could recite pi to it's 1400th decimal.
"Anything you can do, I can do better"
5) Since 1982, San José State's English Department has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest which rewards participants for penning the worst opening sentence to a fictional novel. The contest is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, an English novelist who penned the famous intro "It was a dark and stormy night..." Rewarding intentional mediocrity...hmmm...sounds like an idea the University of Idaho could really get behind.
4) Former Spartan head football coach Fitz Hill, who had a very Tom Cable-y 14-33 record at the SJSU is now the president of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Arkansas. This appears to be in compliance with SJSU's restraining order stipulating that he stay at least 1000 miles away from the football program at all times.
3) In December of 1941, the San José State football team was on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu to play two post-season exhibition games against the University of Hawaii and Willamette University. The team arrived hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the football team was left stranded on the island for several weeks. Following the attack, the San José squad was employed to help enforce blackouts, guard water supplies and stand sentry against amphibious Japanese assaults. Good grief...this must've been like Red Dawn for real for those kids. Go Wolverines...I mean, Spartans!
2) Former Spartan football player Neil Parry suffered a compound fracture in a 2000 game against UTEP and had to have his right leg amputated below the knee. 3 years later, he returned to the field as a special teams player against Nevada. It is safe to say, no matter who you are or where you are: Neil Parry is tougher than you.
1) In 1872, poet Charles Edwin Markham (below) graduated from what is now known as San José State University. Markham, widely believed to be San José State's most prominent 19th-century grad, is famous for penning the internationally acclaimed poem The Man with the Hoe (seriously). The famous poem is said to be a direct response to this famous painting by French artist Jean-François Millet, although some scholars now posit that Markham was merely writing an open letter to whomever happens to be dating Paris Hilton at the time.