Epic catch newest chapter in GVSU viral lore

GVL / Robert Mathews
GVSU Alumni and current Dallas Cowboy Brandon Carr leads an exercise during the first annual GVSU Youth Football Camp.

GVL / Archive (2013)

GVL / Robert Mathews GVSU Alumni and current Dallas Cowboy Brandon Carr leads an exercise during the first annual GVSU Youth Football Camp.

Pete Barrows

They (whoever they are) say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. What they don’t say is anything about weird publicity.

In 2008, a Grand Valley State University student made the astute observation that there is no pancake mix tucked away in between the bindings of your average St. James Bible. There is a delectable recipe for wine battered fish somewhere in there, but that’s beside the point. Another Laker captured the evangelist thwarting wisecrack on what I can only assume was probably a Motorola Razr flip phone while riding his Razor scooter and uploaded the clip straight to YouTube.

The rest, as they say, is history.

As of writing this column, the video has been viewed 3,795,115 times. It was perhaps the first time GVSU had gone viral. It wouldn’t be the last. 

In 2009, a 20-year-old self-identified ‘left-wing hippie peace-keeping liberal’ GVSU student was shot by police in his Campus View apartment after officers identified a particular incense wafting out from underneath his poorly insulated door.

story immediately made rounds on media outlets across the state, leaving us to wonder if this all might have been avoided if the student would have had a couple copies of the Lanthorn lying around to stuff the cracks. Remember that next time you walk past your favorite newsstand on campus.

In 2010, GVSU hopped aboard the LipDub fad express and produced a clip many Lakers now consider to be the quintessential music video to Styx’s rock ballad classic ‘Come Sail Away’. It’s rad, man, it is. Want proof? The video’s been viewed 283,048 times.

There’s a grand piano solo out by the clock tower, a beauty queen, an accordion, sign language, sword fights, a mullet, dancers, ribbon twirlers, a robed choir, a rock concert on the steps of Zumberge, a cameo by GVSU’s most famous unicycler, boats, umbrellas, Louie, a T. Haas smooch, a scuba diver in the fountain and a bar mouthed by former Lanthorn columnist Chris Slattery. And let me tell you, he mouths the hell out of it.

In 2011, GVSU again made
national news when a few yahoos decided to rail lines of bath salts in the dorms. Alright fine, you got me. It actually happened early 2012, but who’s counting? Not them.

In 2012, a student once more made trouble for GVSU faculty in the dorms, only this time it wasn’t through drug abuse. It was with a
guinea pig and a lawsuit. Citing the pet as her “emotional support animal,” she lamented that she couldn’t tote her rodent friend with her to the Connection to join her for a Laker Bowl. So she sued GVSU for 40K…and won.

Which truthfully makes me wonder what you could get away with as labeling an ”emotional support animal.” Might as well swing for the fences, right? From this day forth, my wish is to never be seen on campus again without my seeing-eye cheetah by my side. Wish me luck.

In 2013, the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana got the best of both worlds as she demonstrated the proper technique to use if you wished to satisfy Thor while simultaneously re-imagining her career stark naked on a wrecking ball.

It was visionary stuff, but GVSU saw her bet, and raised.

Little did Miley know, almost every single student to come through GVSU over the last 20 years has ridden or posed with the pendulum hanging just outside the school’s science building at least once, occasionally in the buff. Apparently the Laker faculty was just as in the dark as Miley, and so when students took to blatantly parodying the most popular Cyrus family music video since “Achy Breaky Heart,” the ball had to go.

Lucky for us and the entire Vine watching community, the damage had already been done by the time the sculpture was removed. The Internet loved it, as did Business Insider, E!, Chelsea Lately, Ellen DeGeneres and the most reputable news source of them all –
Buzzfeed. GVSU was in like Flynn, and after five straight years of raising the viral bar, had finally reached its publicity pinnacle. 

BUT WAIT! There’s more. If you’re a Laker and a sports fan, even remotely, it happened right in front of your eyes and you might not have even realized it. New York Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. made a catch in a Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys, although to call it just a catch is to call the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a finger painting. It was instantly proclaimed by cats like LeBron James as da real MVP of catches across the Twitterverse.

If you were unaware, there’s no dunking in football. Even cartoon character athletes like Jimmy Graham and Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson have been outlawed from throwing down celebratory slams. That didn’t stop ODB (pour some out). If you missed it, then you missed the real life manifestation of Michael Jordan’s legendary game-winning stretch slam to save the Tune Squad in ‘Space Jam’. And if you don’t get that reference, there’s no saving you.

The guy he
dunked on? Former GVSU player and current Cowboy cornerback Brandon Carr.

Not even Prime Time Deion Sanders in his prime or Leon Sandcastle could have defended that snag, which makes Carr a wrong-place, wrong-time underfoot figure to ODB, similar to what Brandon Knight was to DeAndre Jordan two years ago. That didn’t stop Beckham’s Twitter tag
@OBJ_3 from being mentioned over a million times in the wake of the play, nor did it prevent Carr or GVSU from inadvertently circulating the inter-webs with it. 

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. 2014 is in the books and the rather impressive six-year streak lives on.

For 2015, I predict that a population of wolves is introduced into the GVSU campus as part of an initiative to both boost tourism in West Michigan and to encourage students to stay inside and study while getting to be privy to Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ firsthand outside of the classroom, but who knows? At this rate, your guess is as good as mine as long as you’re willing to get creative.

Frankly, I can’t wait to look back on GVSU in the media in five years. That goes double if the list to pull from is anywhere close to as good as this last stretch was that I reflected back on to write this column.

The first thing Beckham said after his super catch was, “I hope it’s not the greatest catch of all time. I hope I can make more.” In the same vein, I hope GVSU can, too, and not just in dealing with the eccentric. The substantial news that so often goes under the radar on a national scale – for instance GVSU alum and current Vikings starter Charles Johnson hauling in the first touchdown pass of his NFL career in the same weekend Carr was reduced to a human prop – is breaking everyday, it seems, and I’m excited to see what’s next.

To watch increased enrollment figures pile up, the infrastructure on campus grow, the new buildings go up, the new faces walk by, the new strides made toward academia and progress.

To behold the next Laker to make it in the NFL, for GVSU football return to its national championship ways, cross-country and track teams to continue their nearly unprecedented reign of dominance under esteemed coach Jerry Baltes, for women’s soccer and softball teams to not only survive, but thrive after moving on without the services of coaches Dave DiIanni and Doc Woods, for GVSU basketball to soar to new heights and for club dodgeball to go along showing Ben Stiller how it’s done.

To witness a sports program already dominant on the Division II scale lay groundwork to make a potential jump up to Division I somewhere down the line. For GVSU to be all that it can be, while staying true to all of the understated subtleties I and so many others have come to appreciate as Lakers. The pancake eating, lip dubbing, the wrecking ball riding, the sports fanning and the learning – sometimes all at the same time.

I couldn’t say what the future holds for GVSU (or the surrounding media tributaries), but if they (yeah, there THEY are throwing their two cents in again) are also right in saying that you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, I have to figure the spot where GVSU’s at right now is a helluva good place to start.