Which POTUS has the best shot at his alma mater claiming victory this March?
James K. Polk.
Who else could make a run? Gerald R. Ford and Bill Clinton.
Polk, the small mulleted man who served as the Governor of Tennessee and as Speaker of the House before becoming POTUS, is an 1818 graduate of the University of North Carolina. Clinton is a graduate of Georgetown and Ford, a former football player for the University of Michigan.
UNC is a two-seed in the East and is coming off a pretty bad loss to Duke in the finals of the ACC Tournament Championship. So, what do these Tar Heels have in common with Polk?
Not Terrible: Polk, before even garnering the Whig nomination for President in 1844 Polk vowed to only serve one term and set up four clear goals to accomplish. And that he did. Thus, making him not terrible.
UNC is considered one of the most successful college basketball programs of all-time. They’ve won five national championships and are number three on the all-times win list for Division I men’s basketball. Thus, making the program not terrible.
Storied rivalry: Polk, though efficient and effective during his term, was not without a thorn in his side. Enter: Henry Clay, the “Great Compromiser” and one of the greatest men to ever serve in the United States Senate (and House). If you wanted something accomplished or passed, you needed Clay on your side. Or, you had to go through Clay to get it done. Polk barely edged out Clay for the Whig Party’s nomination in 1844. Polk even lost his home state of Tennessee to Clay.
UNC is no stranger to hatred. Enter Duke. Eight miles apart from each other and no love lost. For either team to win a championship of any kind they have to beat each other—usually three times in a season, if not more. UNC leads the rivalry 131-101.
UNC gets the nod for “more” in every major success category, but ACC Tournament Championships. However, to a lot of people Duke has more prestige and is hated more. Much like Henry Clay is considered to be more successful and prestigious, but numbers don’t lie. UNC has five NCAA Championships, to Duke’s four. And Polk? Well, he was President and Clay wasn’t. (The Missouri Compromise didn’t even last that long anyway.)
That one thing: Polk’s hair, which was a mullet, is his one thing most people actually know about.
And UNC? Well, they’ve got that Michael Jordan guy as their one thing.
Ford and Clinton’s teams have a few things in common with their most notable alumni as well. Ford, an extremely well liked Congressman was never supposed to be President. He just kept getting bumped up the ladder. And Michigan? Well, they aren’t supposed to be fully recovered from their NCAA sanctions yet. Will Ford’s happen chance at the Presidency parlay this young Michigan team into the Final 4 only a few years after being banned from tournament play all-together?
Clinton tasted success young and never backed down from a challenge. Plus, his political successes ultimately led to the political successes of his wife, Hillary Clinton, current Secretary of the State. Georgetown, always the fighter and always a tough opponent to Big East foes gained notability in the 1980s through their legendary coach, John Thompson. Their current coach? Well, his name is John Thompson III and he’s Thompson’s son. My guess is he got the job the job thanks to Daddy-O. Kind of like Hillary. But, hey—a win’s a win.
So, there you have it.
It’s James K. Polk for the win.