Monday, March 16, 2009

Who the fuck is Stephen F. Austin?

We love March Madness not only for the exciting basketball, the office pool, and the bracketology, but also for the exposure that all these random, almost unheard of colleges get when they earn the auto-bid from their no-name conference. But seeing all these small schools inevitably brings up the question of who these schools are named after.

Stephen F. Austin State University is going dancing for the first time ever after winning the Southland Conference tournament. The Lumberjacks were the top seed in the conference tournament for the second straight year, and they finally broke through for their first NCAA tournament appearance. So it begs the question: Who the fuck is Stephen F. Austin?

No surprise here: Stephen Fuller Austin is the namesake of the capital of Texas, Austin. He's known as the "Father of Texas" after leading the colonization effort in the area that later became the state. He first brought colonists to Texas in the 1820s, and soon became an empresario (someone who was allowed to settle in Mexican land, but had to recruit and take responsibility for new immigrants). He brought hundreds of families to Texas and guided the formation of a government and armed groups (precursors of the Texas Rangers). He was involved in Mexican and Texan politics until his death in 1836. Three years later Texans built the city of Austin and made it their capital.

So it seems this guy was pretty important. No wonder they named a state university after him. Why they're known as the lumberjacks is a story for another day.

And no, Stephen F. Austin State University is not in Austin. It's in Nacogdoches. Fitting.

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