Appalachian State Beats Michigan (Not a Typo)

I have blogged now and again about my undergraduate alma mater, Appalachian State University, especially its accomplishments as a Division I-AA football champ. I also accepted a dubious-achievement award on its behalf for creating the “best” college-recruitment video ever — see No. 8 on the Yahoo! link. But never did I dream that the Mountaineers would play the Michigan Wolverines; what kind of masochist would schedule a game like that? So you can imagine my surprise when Appalachian actually won on Saturday, a victory that some people are calling the greatest upset in college football history. The New York Times sports section asked me to write an essay on the topic, which you can find here.


That "No. 8 on the Yahoo! link" is a link to a blog post with a link to a website with a link to

So you can go there directly and save yourself the bother...

Emile Petrone

The essay is great. Well done!


I thoroughly enjoyed your essay! However I noticed in your bio link that your undergraduate degree from Appalachian State is not mentioned. Perhaps now is the time to correct that ommission!

Sharon Starks, Charlotte NC

Mario Ruiz

Dear Stephen,

You know, sometimes it begins as a joke. But people tend to believe as a possibility.

Here in Spain everyone thinks they can be a country by themselves: Catalunya, and even the north region is called the Basque Country.

We can go on in Europe at infinitum. Every country has their divisions and they want not less than freedom.

The same in South America. Those are the regions I know the best. I am sure other parts of the globe are the same.

Please not even as a Joke, Appalachian State.

Mario Ruiz


Mario, maybe this is not the best to bring your political agenda forward or make sweeping statements like those in your comment, at least not without knowing what you are talking about. Catalonia and the Basque country, to start with, have a history of being independent countries, and a different language is spoken on both places which has spawned centuries old literature and separate traditions. Whether you agree with independenntists (and I'm Catalan and mostly don't care about being independent or not because I think the fundamentals wouldn't change), their claim to independence is not that unfounded.
Learn a bit of history and literature and you will realise it's a lot more documented than "just a joke".

Jeff Sherrill


Great essay. I'm an '82 alum, so I remember the power of our soccer program. One correction for you though - and you should know this...

Yosef is not Joseph. It's slang for "Yourself". Applachian prides itself as being a university community where as a student you can be 'yosef', and our mascot name embodies that philosophy.

Jeff Sherrill
ASU '82


Double plus good week for App. State. You beat Michigan and Lauren Caitlin Upton announced that she would be attending your alma mater.

Mario Ruiz

Hi Mar.

No political agenda at all. I rather see a world united than divided.

I do not want to see the reasons of people for fighting. Further, I do not want to see the Spain as Yugoslavia.


Mario Ruiz

Sorry Guys.

I just misread the post. Go Applachian Pride!

I still want to live in a world together.



Great essay! I live in the Ann Arbor area and very much enjoyed the defeat of the Wolverines (not a U-M Alum--is it obvious?). I was surprised when I saw the vans cruising through the streets with support for Appalachian State all over--I thought something else was going on! Then I heard the news. Many of us just smiled a quiet smile on Sunday over the headlines citing the season is already over.

Did out that tie, my friend, and revel in the massive ego blow dealt a team that so richly deserved the hand it was dealt.


We live in Boone. The feeling all around town after the game was electric. You could hear yells and honking, even in the quite neighborhoods.

We knew that they would go for the goalpost so we went to the stadium to see the scene. Students usually take the post a short distance and dump it in a duck pond. This time, they ran past the duck pond, and hung a right on River Street. More people joined the group as they wove all through campus. The goal post was then taken up a huge hill to the Chancellor's house and they placed it on the front driveway. There it remained until the Chancellor and Mrs. Peacock were able to see it upon their return.

Rich Wilson

Unfortunately (IMO) many Americans treat college sports (in particular football) with the same reverence that other peoples do their oppressed national identity.



Your original post indicates you may have a bit of a misunderstanding. "Appalachian State University" simply refers to the name of the university. In the United States, public universities often have the word "state" included in their name to indicate that they are public universities, subsidized by the state government.

The Appalachian mountain range extends through a number of already defined American states and I've never heard about attempts to create an actual state of "Appalachia."


Please excuse my typo, it should read "quiet neighborhoods," not quite.



We both agree we don't want that- but I still think you can't compare both situations at all...

Mike Seramino

This and Miss SC Teen's admittance should make you doubly proud!

Caleb Powers

Mario and Phil, the primary interest in creating a separate state composed of Appalachian counties arose during the Civil War. Though recent scholarship has shown that Appalachian support for the Union was not monolithic, it was still quite strong, particularly in the eastern counties of Kentucky and the then western counties of Virginia. In 1863, well after Virginia's secession from the Union, a new all-Appalachian state of West Virginia was created, and admitted to the Union, where it remains.

I have no doubt that had my home state of Kentucky seceded, the eastern mountain counties would have been formed into another separate state, perhaps called East Kentucky. There was a proposal at one point to create a separate state called Cumberland from the eastern counties of Tennessee; however, that idea never took off.

It's interesting that the counties generally designated by the government as Appalachian are spread through Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. Together these counties make up a huge area, but other than West Virginia, which is entirely Appalachian, the Appalachian counties don't make up the majority, in population or territory, of any of the other states. Therefore, the region has never been unified politically, and its citizens have never had the political clout that their numbers should dictate.


Mr. Boone

Mr. Dubner:
Why no ASU on the bio? Bet you would have put Michigan. I guess it comes down to economics, right?


As a Notre Dame undergrad, THANK YOU for beating Michigan. It made our terrible loss to GA Tech easier to bear.

Caleb Powers

As a loyal Kentuckian, I must point out that perhaps the other contender for college football defeat of the century was when Centre College, a tiny liberal arts school in Kentucky defeated then-powerful Harvard, in 1921. As Centre's web site says:

"As practically anyone who grew up in Kentucky knows, the Centre College football team defeated Harvard in 1921 by a score of six to nothing. In losing to the smallest college it had ever played, Harvard suffered its first intersectional defeat in four decades. Coming as it did at a time in which football was the most outstanding spectator sport in the nation, the game had such an impact on the sporting world that in 1950 the Associated Press named it the upset of the half century. For one glorious moment Centre College was, as the New York Times noted, catapulted into the center of the football universe."