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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Cinderella Stories: Univ. of the Pacific

By Patrick Dorsey

University of the Pacific Band
Are these Tigers playing Jazz? They wouldn't be the first from Pacific to do so.
The 68-team field is set, the bracket is out, and the NCAA tournament soon will begin. Before the final 64 take the court on Thursday and Friday, Playbook has chosen a few small schools to examine a bit closer, taking a look at their exploits inside sports -- and far away from the fields of play. Click here for more Cinderella Stories.

Hoops fans unfamiliar with NorCal or the Big West Conference might know Pacific for one thing: Michael Olowokandi, the 7-foot former Tiger selected No. 1 overall in the 1998 NBA draft -- the same draft that brought us Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce.

But of course, one player does not a program -- or a school -- make. So let's take a look at the college in Stockton, Calif., whose players will face the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes on Friday in the team's ninth tournament trip.

• Another sports-minded Pacific alumnus: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who played safety for two years with the Tigers before making his name downstate at Southern California. And he's not the only NFL coach with Pacific ties; ex-Tigers quarterback Tom Flores went West -- Stockton is actually well inland -- to lead the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl XV title, then south for the Los Angeles Raiders' XVIII win. Flores was the first minority head coach to triumph in a Super Bowl.

• Speaking of Raiders, a certain classic film is among the many to have shot some scenes on this East Coast-looking campus: "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

• And speaking of classics, stars of two timeless horror films -- not to mention many other movies -- spent time at Pacific: Janet Leigh ("Psycho"; Pacific later named a theater after her) and daughter Jamie Lee Curtis (she left after her brief stay as a student to shoot "Halloween").

• Other on-screen actors who studied at Pacific: Robert Culp (opposite Bill Cosby on the show "I Spy"); Darren McGavin (the dad in "A Christmas Story"); and Chris Isaak, who is better known for his music.

• Did someone say music? Perhaps the most successful and celebrated of Pacific's entertainment alumni is eminent jazz artist Dave Brubeck (you've surely heard this). A Pacific school carries his name, the campus features a special collection, and each year sees the Brubeck Festival -- this year held from March 18-23, with Wynton Marsalis performing.

• Pacific will play a major role in the fate of California's controversial Prop 8, the 2008 same-sex marriage ban whose constitutionality will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court next week. Pacific grad Ted Olson will argue for its repeal, while fellow alum Andy Pugno will defend the measure. Meanwhile, justice Anthony Kennedy is a longtime faculty member at the McGeorge School of Law.

• Pacific has undergone some transformations since its inception in 1851, and not just the usual name changes. Sure, it was known as California Wesleyan College back then (it since has become independent from the Methodist church), but it also changed locations twice; it started in Santa Clara, migrated to San Jose 20 years later, then finally landed in Stockton in 1924.