Thursday, March 15, 2007

BLUE DEVILS’ LAWYERS SUE BLUE DEVILS

Attorneys from the firm of Sills, Cummis, Radin, Tischman, Epstein and Gross in Newark, New Jersey, representing the Duke University Blue Devils, are filing suit against the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils because “their logo copies ours, and it looks silly.” According S. Julian Carr Gross, “We take our Blue Devils quite seriously."

According to Gross, the well known French WWI soldiers Chasseurs Alpins, were nicknamed "les Diables Bleus." (Evidently, they were bad agents, but they were French soldiers, so how bad could they be? Supposedly, they actually won accolades for their courage, but the source of this information is also French, so…) They wore a flowing cape and a jaunty beret that captured the public imagination. Ultimatley, Irving Berlin captured their spirit in song describing them as "strong and active, most attractive…those Devils, the Blue Devils of France." (Here’s a shock, when the U.S. entered the war the Blue Devils left the front and toured the country raising money!)

As the war was ending in Europe, the Board of Trustees lifted its quarter-century ban of football on campus (which explains a lot) and began intercollegiate competition. At first the team was called the Trinity Eleven, The Blue and White or the Methodists. (Not to be confused with the nearby Wake Forest Baptists, which explains why it took Wake until 2006 to get their pigskin house in order). In the fall of 1921, the student newspaper launched a campaign for a "catchy name, one of our own possession that would be instantly recognizable nationwide in songs, yells and publicity." (Nationwide? How presumptuous.) At a campus pep rally it was pointed out that Georgia Tech was gaining recognition as the "Golden Tornados" and that rival North Carolina State College had recently adopted the name "Wolf Pack."

There were numerous nominations including Catamounts, Grizzlies, Badgers, Dreadnaughts, and Captains. Believing a choice utilizing the school colors of dark blue and white to be appropriate, the newspaper editors urged a selection from among the nominations of Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Polar Bears, Blue Devils, Royal Blazes, or Blue Warriors. (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2001 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Champions, the Duke Polar Bears…Hmmm, no.)

None of the nominations won strong favor (another shock) but Blue Devils apparently had enough support to elicit the criticism that it would arouse opposition on the Methodist campus "for obvious reasons." The football season passed with no official selection of a name. In 1923, the editors of The Archive and The Chanticleer began referring to the athletic teams as the Blue Devils. Their class had been the first post-war freshmen and the student body was full of returning veterans so the name needed no explanation. Acknowledging that it was somewhat unpopular, they nevertheless believed it to be the best name nominated. (An elitist move if there ever was one!) Neither the college press nor the cheerleaders used the name that first year, but much to the editor's surprise no opposition materialized, not even from the college administration. The Chronicle staff continued its use and through repetition, Blue Devils eventually caught on.

According to Gross, Central Connecticut State U. picked the name Blue Devils "for the sole purpose of belittling Duke." (A move we applaud).

You decide. Here are the profiles of the two schools.

DUKE UNIVERSITY
Previous names: Brown School House, Union Institute Academy (Good God! They were yankees way back in 1841), Normal College, Trinity College, Duke University
Namesakes: Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr - powerful and respected Methodists who became wealthy through the tobacco industry and cigarettes that killed people (voluntarily, mind you).
Motto: Eruditio, Religio et Hoopitio (Latin for "Knowledge, Religion and Basketball")
Established: 1838
Endowment: $6.2 billion (Yike!)
Faculty 2,518
Undergraduates 6,244
Postgraduates 5,993
Campus: 8,709 acres
Athletics 26 varsity teams
Number of NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championships: 4
Most Famous alum: Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States and Robert Richardson, Nobel Prize Winner for discovery of superfluidity in helium-3

CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY
Namesake: Location
Motto: Get Off The Damn Parkway (English for “Get Off The Damn Parkway”)
Established: 1849
Endowment: $12,359.83 (known on campus as the Emergency Pizza Fund)
Type: Public School
Faculty: 416
Undergraduates: 9,678
Postgraduates: 2,637
Campus: 165 acre
Athletics: 18 varsity teams
Number of NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championships: 0
Most Famous alum: None – well except Fran P. Mainella, Director of the National Park Service 2001 – 2006. William R. “Scar” Scarfotti – Grad student who thinks he’s figured out the superfluidity of helium-2

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