What's the deal with ... Furman University?

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
5:05
PM ET
Furman University fans at a football gameCourtesy of Furman University"F. U. P." It stands for Furman University Paladins, a group that will face Clemson on Saturday.
We know about the big boys. But what about the little guys? Throughout the 2012 college football season, Playbook Fandom will take a look at some of the less recognizable schools you might see on scoreboards and TV screens.

There's a chant at little Furman University, one that (according to the school) is led on occasion even by university presidents. It goes like this:

"FU one time, FU two times, FU three times, FU all the time.”

What, you think it stands for something other than Furman University? Not in Greenville, S.C., where this liberal arts college of about 2,700 students sits, is ready to send its Paladins (more on that name later) football team to Death Valley on Saturday to take on No. 11 Clemson.

Here's a closer look at Furman U (with no more mention of its initials):

• Furman is pretty ... pretty. Just ask Delta's Sky Magazine, which recently named the school's 750-acre layout one of the 10 prettiest campuses in the world. And that's not the only publication to celebrate Furman's beauty (just see this one and this one).

• About that campus: It's relatively new, as the school (founded in 1826) moved to its current plot from downtown Greenville in the 1950s. They couldn't move the iconic bell tower, though, which rang for Robert E. Lee's victories during the Civil War; instead the school built an exact lakeside replica.

Paladin, noun: A knight renowned for heroism and chivalry. Actually, that's the second definition (the first has to do with Emperor Charlemagne), but it's the one adopted by fully by Furman -- after a bit of grappling, involving three separate nicknames (Hornets for baseball, Hurricane for football and Paladins for basketball) before they chose the current one back in 1961.

• A member of the Football Championship Subdivision's Southern Conference, Furman became the first private school to win the then-Division I-AA championship (in 1988). The Paladins also reached the final in 1985 and 2001, own 12 SoCon titles, and beaten Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State and South Carolina in the last 30 years.

[+] EnlargeUSA's Clint Dempsey celebrates a goal against England
Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMIBefore scoring goals for Team USA, Clint Dempsey starred at Furman in the early 2000s.
• Furman is also rather productive in the "other" football -- two ex-soccer players are Ricardo Clark, a Houston Dynamo midfielder who played for the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup, and former Furman teammate Clint Dempsey, a newly signed player for Tottenham Hotspur and perhaps the best American footballer in the world.

• Notable nonsports alumni include Mike McConnell, former director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush; Richard W. Riley, a one-time South Carolina governor and U.S. secretary of education under President Bill Clinton; and 1964 Nobel Prize winner Charles H. Townes, whose work helped develop laser technology.

• Golf, anyone? LPGA golfers Betsy King, Beth Daniel and Dottie Pepper all are alumni (with Daniel and King playing together on the Paladins' 1976 national championship team); while eight-time PGA Tour winner and current Champions Tour member Brad Faxon also played there.

• And let's not forget Frank Selvy, who scored 100 points against Newberry in 1954 --more than the opponent scored in total (the final was 149-95), and the only time a player reached the century mark in a Division-I game.
Patrick Dorsey works for SportsNation. He has worked for the Web and newspapers, had a cup of craft service coffee in film school, and played in one Division III golf tournament (he shot 105).

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