I sat down last night to write this year’s KYE for Troy University and thought I’d take a peek at last year’s iteration to borrow a few factoids and generally spiff it up. Turns out, last year’s season-opening Know your enemy was much more polished than the Broncos were in their opener and I couldn’t bear to change a single word. It is, if you’ll allow me to brag, one of the best I’ve ever written and it does not deserve to be lost to the sands of time. So call it countdown fatigue if you will, but I think you’ll enjoy a second viewing of this Troy University Know your enemy...I know I did (and I wrote it!). Don’t act like you don’t like re-runs, I see you binging Parks and Recreation and The Office every night. Let’s know our enemy one more time, shall we?
Ten things you might not have known about Troy or their ‘Bama bungalow
10) The area now known as Troy, Alabama was settled in the early 1830s and was once known as Deer Stand Hill. Later on, the settlement became known as Zebulon—which sounds like a bad sci-fi planet, but was most likely named after Zebulon Pike, the American general and explorer (Pike’s Peak ring a bell?). After that, the indecisive settlers called it Centreville before finally settling on “Troy” in 1838—possibly after being gifted a large wooden horse by nearby Monticello.
9) One year before Troy became Troy (I’m guessing during the short-lived Centreville era), two large battles occurred between settlers and Native American warriors. The first was the Battle at Hobdy’s Bridge—a 30-minute long skirmish that was waged on an overrated battle spot—a wooden bridge. That battle saw few casualties, but six weeks later, the Battle at Pea River Pea Creek (that wasn’t a typo) produced more significant losses of life from both settlers and Creek Indians. Long story short, the Creek Indians were justifiably upset after being forced from their homes and onto the Trail of Tears and became violent. Settlers met violence with violence and it was an ugly scene. Fans of violent clashes re-enact the battles every year the day after Thanksgiving at their local Best Buy.
8) Troy University was founded in 1887 as a “normal” school (abnormal schools were falling out of favor towards the end of the 19th century) and its original name reflected their normal aims—Troy State Normal School. The university enjoyed its normalness until 1929, when it was re-named Troy State Teachers College (just in time for the depression!). In 1957, TSTC dropped “teachers” (possibly off a cliff—records are spotty) and became known simply as Troy State College and it held that name for 10 years before achieving universityhood in 1967. Troy State University was born! Then subsequently died again in 2004 when “state” was deemed too much of a tongue twister. Long live “Troy University” (soon to be “just Troy”).
A normal day, a normal building
7) Troy started playing football in 1909 but was rather sporadic in their gridiron ambitions up until about 1942. The football team has only competed continuously since 1946 when the Germans stopped waging world wars. A few unremarkable coaches helmed the squad in their early, and spotty, years...but Bill Atkins arrival in 1966 changed all of that.
Two years into Atkins (probably carb-free) tenure, he led Troy State to the NAIA National Championship and earned himself NAIA Coach of the Year honors. He left in 1971 with a record of 44-16-2—the second best in school history behind only this next dude. Larry Blakeney took over in 1991 and only just left in 2014. Blakeney helmed the program while they were still Division II and oversaw their switch to 1-AA in 1991. The switch went swimmingly and Blakeney’s squad went 10-0-1 in the regular season and made it all the way to the 1-AA semifinals. A year after Boise State made the 1-AA natty, in 1995, Blakeney guided his team to an 11-0 regular season record (no playoff wins though #sadtrombone). When Blakeney finally called it a career, he’d amassed 178 wins, 113 losses, and 1 extremely unsatisfying tie. To this day, Blakeney is the 4th winningest coach in the entire state of Alabama...behind nobodies like Paul “Bear” Bryant, Cleveland Abbot (Tuskegee), and Ralph “Shug” Jordan (Auburn).
“Remember, that’s Jostens for all your letterman jacket and class ring needs”
6) Troy hasn’t really been playing in the FBS subdivision or the Sun Belt long enough to have any deeply-rooted rivalries, but back when they were a Division II and 1-AA program, Jacksonville State was their most fearsome rival. The two schools started playing in 1924 and met in glorious battle 63 times between then and 2001 (their last meeting). The annual tussle became known as the Battle for the Ol’ School Bell as both schools had been established as teacher’s colleges. JSU leads the all-time series 32-29-2. Don’t get confused and mistake this clash for the annual one between Zack Morris and Mr. Belding though—you’re thinking of the Battle of Saved by the Bell.
5) Way back when, Troy’s athletic nickname was the Bulldogs, which, if you’ve followed Know your Enemy for the last few years you’d know was a very common nickname in the early part of the 20th century...and one that usually had a tragic bulldog story to attached. Later on, the sports teams competed under the menacing nickname “The Teachers” but those squads were easily tamed with a solitary red apple. Later still, in 1922, they became the rather on-the-nose “Trojans” and you’d think that woulda stuck, but some fella named Albert Elmore showed up in 1931 and the Alabama grad decided “The Red Wave” was more fitting in a complete-ripoff-of-Crimson-Tide sort of way. Apparently, there were no intellectual property laws back then because the near carbon copy nickname from the school just up the road lasted all the way until 1973 when the student body cast a long-overdue revote and went back to being the good old Trojans. Oh, and how do you make a Greek warrior motif a little bit more southern? Name the mascot “T-Roy” (that’s precisely their mascot’s name).
If you see T-Roy, remember to thank him for his service.
4) The Windham Rotunda may seem like the venue for this year’s regional comics convention, but it’s actually the real name of WWE champion Bray Wyatt—a Troy University alum (he failed to graduate). Rotunda/Wyatt played two seasons at College of the Sequoias before executing a heel turn and transferring to Troy, where he played two seasons on the Trojans’ O-line and directed many a defensive lineman into the exposed turnbuckle. This would have been a penalty had the ref not have been knocked out by a folding chair.
3) The Sound of the South is the marching band of Troy University. It was established in 1939 but didn’t get its name until 1965, when John M. Long came aboard as bandmaster. The band’s signature song is “The Fanfare”—also written by Long—and it’s played before every performance. I normally have a cache of marching band jokes in-hand, but seriously...this marching band hype video makes The Sound of the South look like they will conquer a small village.
2) For a small town (pop. 19,000ish) school, Troy counts an impressive 3 NASA astronauts among its alumni—William G. Gregory, Kevin R. Kregel, and Kevin A. Ford. One could infer from this that Troy has a pretty solid science program. One might also come to the conclusion that attending Troy makes people want to leave the planet.
1) Troy Professor Scout Blum is a professor at Troy in the Department of History and Philosophy and recently began offering a History Through Games course in which she and her students play board games like Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Cathedral and Civilization to learn history. I’m putting my kids through a similar course right now where they are learning of the great Koopa rebellion of ‘85.