Wichita Cheers Shocker's Place In Final 4

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The Wichita State Shockers are returning to the NCAA men's Final 4 for the first time since 1965. Morning Edition has some fascinating history about the school that you might not know.


GLEN CAMPBELL: And the Wichita lineman is still on the line....


We're listening to Glen Campbell here, with his ode to the Wichita lineman, a song that topped the charts in 1968. It might seem a long time ago, but it's still more recent than when the Wichita State Shockers last made it to the men's Final Four. That would be 1965, when the Shockers lost to legendary Coach John Wooden's UCLA team.

UCLA would go on to beat Michigan in the National Championship. Adding insult to injury, the Shockers lost the third place game to Princeton - 118 to 82; back when they had a third-place game, I guess. Now, we are not picking favorites, but since it's been so long since Wichita State grabbed the headlines, we thought we'd remind you about a little bit of their rich history.

The basketball program has produced some pros, including Dave Stallworth, Xavier McDaniel and Antoine Carr. Former NFL coach Bill Parcells - Big Tuna - played and coached football at Wichita State. Well before he came along, the Shockers actually won the first collegiate night football game west of the Mississippi. That was in 1905, when Wichita State was still known as Fairmount College. They also claim the first forward pass in a college game. It happened that same year. Unfortunately, Shockers football ended after the 1986 season.

JOE KLEINSASSER: So occasionally, I've seen T-shirts around that say "Undefeated Since 1986."

GREENE: That's Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State. We reached him to answer some questions we had about this school that has rocketed to national prominence, like how did they become known as the Shockers?

KLEINSASSER: That first appeared in 1904, legend has it, on a poster advertising a football game between Wichita State - which was then Fairmount College - and the Shalako Indians. The team's manager chose the name because many of the players earned money during the off season harvesting, or shocking, wheat in the surrounding fields.

GREENE: And some of that wheat has made serious dough. In 1958, two WSU students, Frank and Dan Carney, opened the original Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut has promised the nearly 15,000 students at Wichita State free pizza if the Shockers can bring the men's championship home for the first time in 48 years.

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