CAA school mostly unknown to LSU, players, fans
J.C. Copeland confessed he didn’t know where Towson University is.
Barkevious Mingo admitted he had to look it up.
Certainly, they aren’t alone. Saturday’s game between LSU and Towson doesn’t exactly roil up the primordial passions of a deep-fried Southeastern Conference rivalry.
It’s more like mild curiosity at first sight.
Though there probably isn’t a Tigers fan who will be tuning in or turning out Saturday night who doesn’t think LSU will win, how many even know that Towson’s nickname is also the Tigers?
Here’s some basic info on Towson, LSU’s first-ever opponent from the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA):
Two of Towson’s most well-known alumni, to Louisiana sports fans anyway, are New Orleans Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt (he played at Towson from 1974-77) and offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod (2003-06) who has been a Saint since 2007.
According to Towson sports information director Dan O’Connell, Bushrod drew scouts and coaches from about 20 teams leading up to the 2007 draft, but not the Saints. It wasn’t until former Towson coach Gordy Combs persuaded Vitt to have the Saints take a look at Bushrod that the team scouted him and eventually drafted him in the fourth round.
Other famous alumni include:
- John Schuerholz, Atlanta Braves team president (the Towson baseball park is named after him)
- Former NFL punter Sean Landeta
- Former NFL running back Dave Meggett
- Mike Rowe, host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs”
- Actor Charles S. Dutton (“Rudy,” “Gothika,” “Alien3”)
- Kevin Clash, the voice of Sesame Street’s Elmo
Towson completed the seventh-best turnaround in Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) history when it rebounded from a dismal 1-10 season in 2010 to go 9-3 in 2011.
The 7.5-game improvement is tied with three other schools, including Nicholls State in 1996.
Towson’s season included a second-round appearance in the NCAA Division I playoffs. The Tigers were the preseason favorite to win the CAA after being picked to finish last in the conference from 2008-11.
Towson is located in Towson, Md., a near northside suburb of Baltimore.
Towson was founded in 1866 in Baltimore as State Normal School. It moved to Towson in 1915 and became State Teaches College in 1935. For decades, Towson has been the leading educator of teachers in Maryland.
If people around the country are familiar with Towson at all, it’s as Towson State. The school dropped the “State” in 1997.
Today, Towson has an enrollment of 21,464, making it the second-largest school in Maryland behind only the University of Maryland.
Legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas didn’t attend Towson — he went to Louisville. But the Hall of Famer developed close ties to Towson later in his life.
Unitas’ three children graduated from Towson — his son Chad played on the Towson golf team. Before his death on Sept. 11, 2002, Unitas worked as a fundraiser in the school’s development office, helping raise funds for the football/lacrosse stadium on campus that now bears his name.
The biggest attendance ever at Unitas Stadium was a capacity crowd of 11,196 last December for a NCAA Division I playoff game against Lehigh (alma mater of LSU athletic director Joe Alleva).
Thought it likely won’t be a totally packed house, the crowd to watch Saturday’s game in Tiger Stadium will by far be the largest ever for a Towson football game. The school record was 35,573 when the Tigers played at Maryland last Oct. 1.
T is for Transfer
Towson has become a haven for transfer players from FBC schools.
The Tigers have a total of 13 former FBC players on their roster, including cornerbacks Jordan Love (Georgia) and Ben Harvey (South Carolina) and backup quarterback Joe Brennan (Wisconsin).