UPDATE 9/26: It's official.
In one of the cooler uses of social media, Northern Illinois has been announcing its newly-scheduled football opponents by revealing a series of clues on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Today, they started a new set of clues, and... it looks like USF is NIU's next home-and-home series opponent, to be announced on Friday.
Here are today's clues. I'll unveil them in order of how easy it is to narrow down the list of possibilities.
#SchedulePaloozaEncore hint 1: This team was ranked in the top-five during the BCS era.— NIU Huskie Athletics (@NIUAthletics) September 24, 2014
As we all know, USF was #2 in the BCS poll for one glorious week in 2007. (And #5 in the AP poll the week before, after the 64-12 game.) The clue doesn't specify which of the various polls, but it's safe to say most teams who reached any Top 5 are the bluest of the sport's bluebloods. Of those schools who made only a brief sojourn into the top five during the BCS era (1998-2013), the only non-Power 5 schools are USF, Cincinnati, and Boise State. Other candidates include then-outsiders Utah and TCU, and lesser Power 5 schools Texas Tech, Washington State and Purdue.
#SchedulePaloozaHint No. 3: this school has a marine science program. (Instagram)
USF has one. And not many other schools do. Among universities that might meet Hint #1, this list on Wikipedia includes only Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, LSU, Michigan, Oregon State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Texas, and Washington. There may be others, depending on what qualifies as a marine science program. But that narrows the list to about a dozen schools.
#SchedulePaloozaEncore hint 4: a former MLB All-Star played collegiately in this city.— NIU Huskie Athletics (@NIUAthletics) September 24, 2014
There are a lot of ways to parse this one. I assume they mean "in this city but at a different college." Jackie Robinson was an All-Star, and went to UCLA, and played college baseball in Los Angeles, because UCLA is in the same city as itself. So the clue doesn't mean much without that assumption. Also, we don't know how strict their definition of "city" is. Is Eckerd College in the same city as USF?
Of the schools that meet the first two criteria, here are the only ones where a different college in the same city (same city name per baseball-reference.com) has produced an MLB All-Star:
- Florida State (Florida A&M: Andre Dawson, Hal McRae, Vince Coleman, Marquis Grissom)
- Georgia Tech (Oglethorpe: Luke Appling. By the way, Luke Appling was awesome.)
- LSU (Southern: Lou Brock, Vida Blue, Rickie Weeks)
- South Florida (Tampa: Tino Martinez, Lou Piniella)
When it comes to producing Major League Baseball all-stars, which of these schools doesn't belong? FSU, Georgia Tech, and LSU have produced tons of MLB talent. It's not really noteworthy to say that "a former MLB All-Star played collegiately in this city." Unless... the team in question isn't exactly known for producing MLB All-Stars. As you may have guessed, no USF baseball alumni has gone on to play in an All-Star Game. I suppose you could shoehorn Tony La Russa in there as an All-Star manager, but I don't think that's what they're getting at.
Now on to the clue that threw people off:
What connection could there be between this advertising slogan and USF?
Some people guessed that the mystery opponent is Cincinnati, since that's where Proctor & Gamble is based. Others guessed Auburn, because the "Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized" campaign is most associated with Charles Barkley. But the slogan has been around since 1986, and over the years they've employed a number of different tough guys as spokesman. Including this fellow:
Hulk Hogan went to USF, and thus satisfies the last of the four hints.
I could be wrong, but I doubt any other college fits the four hints this well, and that we will be hearing on Friday about a future USF-Northern Illinois series. I suspect this series would be a couple years down the line, since USF is well-stocked on games, especially home games, for the next couple years. I welcome any alternative theories in the comments.