By this time next year, my beloved Alma Mater, Kennesaw State University (Motto: "Down The Street From The Cracker Barrel") will have completed their first full season of collegiate football. A lot of people think a college is defined by high academic standards. This is nonsense. A college is defined by: 1) Having a football team and 2) If the football team is any good.
It is basic good old fashion common sense. Nobody wears a t-shirt bragging about a college's English department.
One question that has dogged historians through the ages regarding Kennesaw State athletics is this: Why are they called "The Owls"? The answer should be obvious: all of the cool nicknames were taken (like Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets). However, using my crack BA in History skills I learned at Kennesaw State (I will always remember my graduation day. "Here's your degree, Mr. Manis, now wipe off that table, we are expecting a party of five.") I am going to reveal not only the circumstances but also the person who named The Kennesaw State Owls.
It was Dan Jones.
I know a lot of you are thinking: "Who?", but if I said, "Danny Jones" a lot of you would still say "Who?" but a lot of you would say "Oh yeah, Danny Jones".
Danny is a guy I've known almost as long as I've known my wife which is saying something. He was in my third grade class at East Valley Elementary School and his dad was the first football head coach of The Wheeler Wildcats. Danny is truly a scholar, gentleman, myth and legend. He is also the only eight year old I've ever seen that could play the ukelele.
Danny is also important because he can verify the existence of a girl named Vicki Hill. Vicki was a girl I knew who I casually suggested to my wife that we name our baby after. As you might expect, that suggestion was not greeted with much enthusiasm. To quote my beloved, "I am NOT going to name MY BABY after some girl YOU had the HOTS for." Fortunately, we had a son.
Somewhere in the 70's, I heard Danny say that he named the Kennesaw Owls. Why that stuck in my head instead of the millions of hours of education instruction I've received is a mystery and probably one of the reasons I'm not stinking rich. So on the eve on Kennesaw State's inaugural season, I decided to reach out to Danny via Facebook
Danny confirmed what I remembered. He says, "My Mom was (the) Exec Sec (Executive Secretary) for the first President of Kennesaw State. She came home one day and asked me to look through my coloring books and see if there was a good "animal" in there for the school to use. (I guess they weren't putting a whole lot of time in on this task. "Ask your kid. Let him decide." Now there's a high priority for you.) By the way, I was still at an appropriate age to have coloring books. 13, 14... something like that. I thumbed through a favorite book and, well, dang, there was an owl, with one of those "professor hats" on. How about this, Mom? I am pretty sure they used the picture out of the coloring book for a good while."
Danny concludes by saying "(Disclaimer: I could be wrong about all of this. It is simply a story that is told around the family fire each Christmas, handed down from generation to generation.)"
This historian believes this story. Danny's mom did work for President Sturgis (the first President of Kennesaw State), who was the type of guy, from my limited exposure to him, that would ask an eight year old to name a college mascot. Danny knew Vicki Hill. Danny played a pretty mean ukelele for a third grader. What more evidence do you need?