More on USF football and Tank McNamara
We wrote Friday morning about USF's random cameo in Thursday's Tank McNamara comic strip, and during halftime of a game at the NBA Summer League, my curiosity got to me: Why USF? Was there some odd connection to the school, or was it just an arbitrary reference in the sports-themed comic?
It took surprisingly little work to reach the strip's co-creator, Jeff Millar, through Universal Press Syndicate. Millar's written the strip since 1974, and his colleague Bill Hinds illustrates the comic. Reaching Millar by phone on Friday afternoon, I figured out that he already told us everything he knows about USF.
"The only reason I know USF is that at one time, it made the second position in the polls," said the Texas-based writer. "It's just a satirical reference to a lot of schools."
Millar said he's surprised by the number of colleges that think having a football team can lead to academic prestige, and I told him that it's more likely that football leads to greater national exposure and whatever comes with that. He said he learned of USF during its football run in October 2007 -- "there was a fair amount of coverage, but it's all I know about the school" -- and to illustrate that point, I asked Millar what city USF was located in.
"Jacksonville?" he earnestly guessed.
Millar knows the college football (and geography) of Texas much better -- he's a 1974 University of Texas graduate -- and said the line wasn't intended as anything against USF individually, but to poke at the widespread belief in the campus-wide power of college football. He remembers Rice being "one of the best football teams" in the late 1960s, that is "until the university decided to get rid of the fake majors."
Stay tuned next week, when Jeffy and P.J. from "Family Circus" lose a shoe at a USF tailgate and blame it all on Ida Know ...