Thursday, March 11, 2010

Who Will Be the Next Mingo?

In the aftermath of last year’s Name of the Year Tournament, we wondered whether there’s any work left to be done here. What mountains can be climbed, what streams forded, what galaxies far, far away explored that Barvkevious Mingo -- lord and master, Steampunk Emperor of the Kingdom of Mingovia, 2009 Name of the Year -- has not already climbed, forded and explored?

And then our inbox began to fill.

In this crazy name game, as in life, possibility keeps us young. One day in the early 1990s, Assumption Bulltron appears in a sworn affidavit and we think the pinnacle has been reached. Then along come Crescent Dragonwagon and Nimrod Weiselfish and Tanqueray Beavers and Vanilla Dong and, our friend, Destiny Frankenstein and the great and powerful Mingo to remind us that this big, blue marble is filled with mind-blowing names.

This year, a hell of a lot of them. The NOTY Seeding Committee is running a bit behind schedule this year, but rest assured it is not shirking its solemn task. We received more than 400 nominations from you, The People, for the 2010 Name of the Year. We tossed out the obvious nonstarters -- fans of Asian-themed phallic allusions will be disappointed -- and compiled a list of only the most worthy. That 278 names turned out to be “most worthy” is at once a spine-tingling testament to the onomastic smorgasbord of the human race and a daunting freaking challenge. The NCAA thinks it has reason to expand to 96? We could go 256 in a heartbeat.

But we won’t do that. Because it would be an insane clerical task. So we’ll do the painful job that we are charged with doing: whittling the field down to the most most worthy 64. Will photographer Coke Wisdom O’Neal -- nominee No. 1 on our list -- make the cut? How about No. 22 Nohjay Nimpson, a track and fielder at St. Joe's? Is No. 66 Spontaneous Gordon, whose car crashed into a bus in Delaware, an instantaneous No. 1 seed? Might she (yes, Spontaneous is a she) encounter the wrath of Mississippi high-school football player Furious Bradley, No. 105? What of highly touted nominee No. 115, Florida h.s. defensive end God's Power Offor? He told NOTY friend Andy Staples of SI.com that "this name has done everything for me." Everything, that is, except win NOTY. So far.

Can No. 138 Spartacus Bernstein of Brooklyn ride a golden chariot to the Sweet 16? Will he and No. 16, Princeton astrophysicist Aristotle Socrates, and No. 133, Massachusetts high-school baseball player Romulus Marino, and No. 205, Indian cricketer Napoleon Einstein, make this an historic ballot?

Will it be a blessed Shabbat for No. 38, Jamaican bobsledder Hannukkah Wallace? Will No. 113 Karma Sherpa continue the proud tradition of New York City cabbies on the NOTY ballot? Should we record the name of No. 137, convicted New Hampshire drug operative Pencilman Jeffries, in graphite or ink?

No. 184, golf coach Pina Gentile? No. 186, Evansville guard Shy Ely? No. 216, Virginia Tech footballer Nubian Peak? No. 246, Colorado high schooler Lolita Respectnothing? No. 250, Milwaukee student Dinero Fudge? No. 270, victim-of-the-economy Waver Brickhouse? No. 274, Kentucky defensive tackle Mister Cobble? No. 278, Texas university president Flavius Killibrew?

Is any of them the next Mingo? Can there be a next Mingo? And what of the Steampunk Emperor? How’s our divine leader doing on the playing fields of Baton Rouge?

According to LSU head coach Les Miles, after redshirting his freshman season and converting from linebacker, Mingo could see some time at defensive end in third-down situations this fall.

“He can be a guy who puts his hand on the ground and comes off the edge and give us a pass rush,” Miles said. “He's maturing and will be good enough there. Certainly with time, he'll be potentially a great player."

All hail Mingo! He will putteth his hand on the ground and scorcheth the FieldTurf! He will vanquish SEC offensive linemen coming off his sharp and fearsome edge! He will be good enough there -- and potentially great!

We’ll be back soon with the 2010 ballot, or at least another update.