In case you needed any reminder that the NCAA Tournament is the absolute best, let's take some time to get to know this year's most famous Cinderella. Florida Gulf Coast is A) a school you'd never heard of as recently as last Thursday, B) the first 15-seed in history to advance to the Sweet 16, and C) the greatest school on earth.
Let's review the evidence.
1. FLORIDA GULF COAST IS LOCATED HERE.
The details don't matter. It's better if we don't know, actually. For this week, Florida Gulf Coast exists as some utopian myth somewhere along the coast, full of beautiful women and classes that don't matter and dunks and beaches and the American Dream.
2. THIS IS A VIEW FROM A DORM ROOM.
That photo is from junior forward Chase Fieler's dorm room, via Yahoo!'s college basketball blog. As Eric Adelson explains at Yahoo!, "most recruits thought FGCU was a JuCo in the Florida Panhandle. It's not." No, it's a four-year, totally real university with a Division I basketball team and beachfront dorms and maybe even classes, and we're all so stupid for applying anywhere else.
3. FLORIDA GULF COAST IS TOO REAL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. After the basketball team took down Georgetown on Friday night, even the New York Times was reduced to babbling out nonsense. As the corrections in that article note:
An earlier version of this article included several errors. Georgetown’s record is 25-7, not 25-6. Florida Gulf Coast’s record in the Atlantic Sun was 13-5, not 17-1. Florida Gulf Coast became the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed, not the sixth. Georgetown has now failed to advance past the Round of 16 in the past six years under Coach John Thompson III, not the past seven. Florida Gulf Coast forward Eddie Murray was incorrectly referred to as Eddie Murphy. Florida Gulf Coast was misidentified in some instances as Gulf Coast College.
The emphasis is ours, and we forgive the New York Times for getting carried away and thinking that Eddie Murphy plays college basketball for FGCU. He doesn't, but he should.
4. FLORIDA GULF COAST IS VERY FLORIDA.
Per Wikipedia: "The university is currently expanding its graduate offerings and is adding to its research capabilities, with an Environmental Forensics Facility or 'body farm' in the works." A body farm! There is also a Death Investigator concentration, proving that Florida Gulf Coast understands Florida better than any of us, and understands that it must evolve to fit in with the rest of its insane surroundings. Beachfront dorms and body farms is about as Florida as it gets.
There is also ...
5. A PROFESSIONAL GOLF MANAGEMENT MAJOR.
"The freshman professional golf management major Garrett Thompson, who is from the Syracuse area..." is apparently a real Florida Gulf Coast student who appears in this New York Times article.
6. FLORIDA GULF COAST IS 16 YEARS OLD.
WU-TANG CLAN IS OLDER THAN THIS SCHOOL.
Indeed, the school didn't open for classes until 1997, but much like Wu-Tang before them, the school is already well on its way to taking over the world. Reports from campus this weekend: "Students honked horns, blasted music and even mooned fellow drivers Friday night on the 760-acre Ft. Myers campus." It's FGCU's world, we're all just livin' in it.
7. FLORIDA GULF COAST HAS THE COOLEST ALUMNI
According to Wikipedia, notable alumni includes Courtney Jolly, a former beauty queen turned professional monster truck driver:
Her introduction to the world of monster trucks came when she sang the National Anthem at a Monster Jam event at Florida Sports Park in her hometown of Naples. She was given a pit pass and subsequently met driver Alex Blackwell, who let her sit in his truck. She immediately decided that she wanted to drive a monster truck, and returned the next day hoping to drive a truck into the venue before singing the anthem. Monster Jam Senior Director of Operations Mike Wales later arranged for her to test drive a monster truck in North Carolina and he decided that she had what it took to drive competitively. Wales has referred to Jolly as the Danica Patrick of the monster truck circuit.
She began driving professionally in the Monster Jam circuit while still attending college at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she majored in business and marketing. She attended classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, flying out on Thursday for events and returning on Sunday to attend school.
Jolly lost most of the function in her right hand in a go-kart crash at age twelve. The accident broke her right arm above the elbow, requiring eight inches of steel and eight screws to repair it, and severing a few nerves. The handicap forced her to switch from doing everything right-handed to left-handed, including racing.
Courtney Jolly should probably be number one on this list.
8. THIS MAN WORKS AT FLORIDA GULF COAST.
It doesn't even matter that Andy Enfield is a college basketball coach.
More important: He married a woman who'd previously appeared on several magazine covers and modeled for Victoria's Secret, and his first date involved taking her to a St. Johns NIT game and a postgame meal at Taco Bell. His proposal, as explained to CBS, involved a ring squeezed into a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. He also holds the NCAA record for all-time free throw percentage, co-founded a health care technology company after his playing days at Johns Hopkins, sold it for millions, and then left the business world for a life in basketball.**
Andy and Amanda Enfield have got it all figured out.
**(Note: While various reports have mentioned Enfield's business success and the timeline above, new reports refute those claims. We're not sure who to believe, and the coach is cryptic. Regardless, if he did, in fact, propose to his supermodel wife with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, we think that's far more important than any/all business success.)
9. THIS GUY'S GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT, TOO.
Maybe you can't imagine yourself as millionaire Andy Enfield or a member of the Florida Gulf Coast basketball team, but we could all be that equipment manager in the center up there. We all need to work harder at being the equipment manager in the center up there.
10. THERE IS ALSO THE BASKETBALL TEAM.
If the previous nine items weren't enough to convince you that Florida Gulf Coast is the finest academic institution in the country, then here is the basketball team.
And then dunking a lot more, enough to earn the label "Dunk City" from the internet.
They play an uptempo style full of alley-oops, their best player (Sherwood Brown) came out of nowhere (and earns bonus points for phenomenal dreadlocks), and in both games this weekend FGCU was clearly the better team. That's an important point: What happened this weekend wasn't so much a miracle as it was a team full of athletes dominating and having fun while the rest of us looked on in shock. This was just an awesome team being more awesome than anyone thought possible.
It still doesn't seem real, but on the court and elsewhere, Florida Gulf Coast is the closest thing we've ever seen to Ball So Hard University in real life. All of it's the greatest.
Amazing. Sherwood Brown says his break at FGCU came when the previous coach 'gave up on the team' in his soph yr and let the bench guys play— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongWTVD) March 23, 2013
Now, FGCU plays Florida in Cowboys Stadium on Friday to keep the insanity going.
We don't even know what's happening anymore, but let's hope it never ends.