What in the FGCU is Going On?

Florida Gulf Coast Men's College Basketball

What in the FGCU is Going On?

So now that you have jumped on the FGCU bandwagon, there are a few things to set straight. TNT, TBS, ESPN, ETC, ETC, and even Good Morning America are trying to tell America AAALLLL about Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. Believe me, the Eagles are all for the exposure, but like the honeymoon couple that travels 3000 miles and then has dinner at The Outback, the media is missing an opportunity. If you want to eat where the locals eat, you have to talk to the locals. If you want to be an FGCU “Birdwatcher,” you need to do the same. And if you want to know about The Little School That Could, ESPN is not where you should dine.

First of all, with 770 miles of “Florida Gulf Coast,” no one should feel guilty about not knowing FGCU’s location. Although the University’s web site lists an address of “South Fort Myers,” Lee County residents will tell you that it sits in Estero, a 20 minute Interstate 75 drive from downtown. If Fort Myers were bigger than its 63,000 population, Estero would be a suburb. The Boston Red Sox Spring-train just minutes from campus, but Gulf Beaches are nowhere near that close. The beach you see in the brochure everyone talks about is a lake on campus, making a nearby Everglades alligator encounter much more likely than bumping into a dolphin.

But enough of the geography lesson.

Everyone, and I mean everyone is talking about Eagles basketball, the Little Division I that dishes and dunks like an And1 Streetball team. Everyone is caught up in the Coach Enfield’s supermodel wife story, and the fact that FGCU is the only 15 seed in history to make the sweet 16. The residents will be happy to tell you, with that smug “I coulda told you that” look, that Eagle Athletics across the board are good-very good. Chris Sale was the National Baseball player of the year not long ago. Soccer is good, women’s basketball barely missed the national tournament, and so on and so on. The baseball team swept the mighty then-number-13-ranked Florida Gators earlier this year. The softball team is riding an 11 game win streak and in their first year of post-season eligibility in 2012 won the mid-major and equally mid-mighty Atlantic Sun Conference, advanced to their own “Big Dance” and took down those same Florida Gators (then #5) in a regional game. (By the way, the softball team lives by the long ball and are just as much fun to watch as the boys.) And who does the Eagle High Flying Basketball Circus and Travelling show play next? Yup, the Gators. FGCU is not afraid, not intimidated and not shy to showcase their confidence. Will they win? Who knows, but only 80,000 of the 8.1 million ESPN brackets had them winning the first two games. (My bracket didn’t have that, but my wife’s did and I may never live that down.) The FGCU bookstore was a madhouse Monday morning, sold out of tee shirts by 10 am, so the Dudes from Dunk City are also doing their part for the economy in addition to their entertainment value.

The locals are equal parts amused and annoyed by the media-the announcers simply have a hard time spitting out all ten syllables. They try to shorten it but just can’t figure out how, and like the incorrigible schoolboy forced to write “I will not chew gum,” they are forced to say the entire name time after time. Their researchers come back with nuggets of info like “But FGCU lost to Lipscomb-(Lipscomb!)-twice!”  Lipscomb, my friends, is not Leprosy University and it seems LaSalle lost to Central Connecticut State. Who? LaSalle also lost by 17 to Miami, whom the Eagles steamrolled by 12. Are Mike and Mike mentioning that?

Coach Andy Enfield has his boys flying high, playing their way and having fun. Fascinating to listen to and ever respectful of his opponents in interviews, he repeatedly uses the word “fun.”

Hey Andy-It shows.

Making one word out of the “FG,” and another word out of the “CU,” Peter King of ESPN tried to make fun of the name.

Nobody down here minds-on the FGCU campus, “Fun” is the name of the game.