With the University of North Alabama delving into its first season of Division I football, the university is facing some old rivals and new faces.
To familiarize yourself with these teams, on game days this season the TimesDaily offers some unique tidbits about that day’s opponent.
We start with the Lions’ first opponent, Southern Utah:
• The university offers a class titled “Writing About Video Games.”
• Don’t let the video game class fool you into thinking everyone stays indoors. Southern Utah received the title of 2017-18 National Outdoor Champions. More than 90 schools competed for the title, which is based on healthy lifestyles and activities.
• When the college was named Branch Agricultural School, it was nicknamed the Branch Aggies. The school wanted a different mascot for its inaugural 1946 football season so it chose the Broncos. Eventually, many other schools with agricultural roots claimed that nickname, so they became the Thunderbirds when the school changed its name to the College of Southern Utah. In 2008, the school announced it had changed its mascot to the Prairie Dogs. The date of the decision — April 1 — should have revealed the truth: the name change was merely an April Fool’s joke perpetrated by the university.
• A statue of Old Sorrel the Horse pulling lumber through a snowbank adorns the grounds of Southern Utah. Old Sorrel was a tough horse. He was the only one to fight through a snowbank that was up to 15 feet tall while the college was being built during a tough Utah winter.
• The university has a tradition of becoming a “True T-Bird” when the clock strikes midnight on the Friday night before Homecoming. Students, alumni and anyone else wishing to participate must kiss someone at the Old Sorrel statue, marking their rite of passage as a T-Bird.
• The Carter Carillon is a landmark on campus and part of a cherished tradition. New students walk east through the Carillon, which represents the sunrise of a new chapter of their lives. They then avoid walking through it again during their tenure there. On graduation day, the commencement procession goes through the Carillon again, this time taking the new graduates westward, symbolizing the sunset of that chapter.
• Southern Utah is located in Cedar City, Utah, which has about 29,000 residents. The city has beautiful surroundings to the east with mountains up to 10,000 feet tall, and a desert area to the west. Its elevation is 5,800 feet above sea level.
• Cedar City is nicknamed “Festival City USA.” Among events is the annual “Utah UFO Festival,” which includes a caravan to Area 51.