We played the nickname game a lot. It was a skill I excelled at. Willie was better. I can’t count how many times we had to go head-to-head. I would always be able to get him on a team like Eastern Illinois (the Panthers), West Virginia Tech (the Golden Bears), or Indiana State (the Sycamores). This is because Willie would love this weekend of college football, when traditional powerhouses face off against lesser-known teams with unique nicknames. He would have loved it especially when the Central Michigan Chippewas scored on a Hail Mary to win against Oklahoma State. Willie would have loved it that Ole Miss was playing Terriers of Wofford. He would have worked hard for the Colonels at Nicholls State victory over Georgia, I think. The Colonels almost did it before falling to 26-24. Willie once called Georgia “those loathesome Georgia Bulldogs’ and their Swedish running back Lars Tate.” Tate was black and came from Indiana. Willie would be pulling for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks against LSU tonight. He would have also pulled for FSU’s Charleston Southern Buccaneers. Willie always voted for the underdogs, except when the underdog was Ole Miss or Texas. He may even be able to pull for the Savannah State Tigers against Southern Miss tonight. He loved USM, but also Delta State, whom Willie called the Fighting Okra. Willie would be a strong supporter of DSU against the Texas A&M Commerce Lions. Willie felt, like me, that there were too many Tigers or Lions in college football. When it came to nicknames, he appreciated being “unique”. He was a huge fan of the Cal-Irvine Anteaters, and later the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. He loved the Fighting Artichokes at Scottsdale Community College. This is the only one I got him to join. Rick Cleveland is Mississippi Today’s sports columnist. Check out his columns as well as his Sports Daily blog. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.