It’s my week to write a #trending column and, honestly, how could I write about ANYTHING other than Florida Gulf Coast University? Even if it hadn’t been my undergraduate alma mater (it was), this Cinderella story has captivated a nation, making FGCU — by many, many accounts — “American’s favorite college basketball team.”
It’s an incredible story, and one that makes me feel so proud to be an alumna. After reading article after article … after article … I began to glean just how special a story this really is.
Here are a selection of some of the most poignant quotations from the countless articles on this underdog sensation.
"This isn’t a Cinderella story. This is the ugly stepsisters, the ones no one knows the names of, winning the hearts of the prince."
"But it’s not just that (they are the first 15-seed ever to be one of the top 16 college basketball teams in America). No, not at all. It’s the way FGCU has leapt and heel-clicked and chicken danced into America’s hearts. It’s the memories they’ve made during games with their above-the-rim aerials and their below-the-backboard antics. In a college sporting world of corporate fakery and soiled amateurism, FGCU stands for pure joy.”
- Yahoo! Sports
"I can’t remember an NCAA Tournament team delivering a louder message than Florida Gulf Coast University did during their two games in Philadelphia this weekend. It was pretty straightforward, too. Play like you don’t have a care in the world, and the world may soon care about you.”
"They are more than just a Cinderella team this year; FGCU is a legitimately lovable underdog who wins in style and seems to have a blast doing it. If there’s any team to get behind this year, it’s the Eagles.”
- Bleacher Report
"If anything, FGCU played with more abandon and more athleticism Sunday even though a Sweet 16 berth was at stake. Instead of tensing up, they started loose and got looser as the game unfolded, playing basketball as if it were a jazz session, each player riffing off another."
- Washington Post
"In four hours of basketball, Florida Gulf Coast has done what is nearly impossible in modern sports: It has awakened wonder among a populace addicted to snark and seemingly immune to joy. The Eagles — and surely their spectacularly unconventional coach — have shaken a sport turned stodgy by over-management, by refusing to apply brakes to their basketball or their words."
- Sports Illustrated
"FGCU is an instant hysteria for our era of instant history: It took George Mason four rounds to become the national obsession that FGCU became in four days."
"What stands out most about FGCU is the moxie. They play like they believe they should be running the other team off the court — regardless of the opponent. With most Cinderellas, you expect them to lose; with FGCU, you now expect them to win."
- USA Today
"This is the story of an athletic, balls-to-the-wall team outclassing ‘better’ teams, and doing it with style. The Eagles win by running the break, attacking the rim, forcing turnovers, and never being afraid to throw alley-oops. Everything that’s fun about watching basketball, FGCU is designed to do."
"Even watching Florida Gulf Coast celebrate has become more enjoyable than switching to another game."