American Athletic Conference
RIP TOM III (Photo Courtesy of Memphis Athletics).

5 Fun Facts About the American Athletic Conference

Are you an American Athletic Conference expert? Read all five fun facts below to see if you really know everything about your favorite conference.

American Athletic Conference Fun Fact No. 1

In 2013, Southern Methodist University had every living U.S. president present at the opening of the Bush Center. They included President Barack Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

First ladies were also present. They included SMU alumna and former first lady Laura Bush, current first lady Michelle Obama, and former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter.

President George W. Bush poses with members of the Louisiana State University Tigers football team (from left) quarterback Matt Flynn, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, head coach Les Miles and running back Jacob Hester after he received a team jersey while hosting the team at the South Lawn of the White House on April 7, 2008, in Washington, D.C. The Tigers were the NCAA football champions in 2007. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

AAC Fun Fact No. 2

Bob Saget, Bill Cosby, Kunal Nayyar, Tamron Hall, Diplo, Chosen Anderson and Aaron McKie, among others, are all alumni of Temple University. Temple quite possibly has the largest number of famous alumni in the AAC.

AAC Fun Fact No. 3

Wichita State University is the home of the first Pizza Hut, founded by two WSU alumni, Dan and Frank Carney, while they were students. The original building still stands on campus today as a Pizza Hut-themed museum, and current students are happy to give you a tour around the place.

American athletic conference

The first-ever Pizza Hut is now a museum. (Photo courtesy of Wichita State University)

AAC Fun Fact No. 4

Only two teams have had live tigers as their mascots, and only one is in the AAC: the University of Memphis. U of M is also the only school to ever have a live tiger attend college football games (in a sound-proof, air-conditioned trailer).

There's a little secret about TOM (the mascot's name), too. There are actually four TOMs. The original TOM was the mascot from 1972 to 1992, first living in someone's garage and then at the Memphis Zoo, where he became one of the largest tigers in captivity at 600 pounds. Tom II was born in 1991 and would attend a game that same year. He, too, bunked down in an individual's house before he was moved to a zoological park in Collierville, where he also grew to be quite rotund at 500 pounds before he died of cancer in 2008.

Tom III was born in 2008 and served as a mascot until he died suddenly at age 12 in 2020. Animal rights groups got involved, and TOM IV lives in the Memphis Zoo with no field trips to games.

American athletic conference

Another shot of the famous tiger TOM III. (Photo courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

AAC Fun Fact No. 5

Bet you didn't think a murder-for-hire plot would be part of this article, did you? William Marsh Rice wanted an institute to be named in his honor (Rice University) and funded by the endowment from his estate once he died. His staff preferred to have the money instead.

In this real-life version of "Clue," it was the valet who did it. Rice's valet, Charles Jones, plotted with a lawyer named Albert Patrick to draft a fake will that would give them all the money. The men tried to end Rice's life with mercury pills and then chloroform administered by Jones, which did the trick.

Patrick's attempt to cash a huge check from Rice's bank account right after his death may have raised eyebrows. The police were tipped off somehow. Patrick received the death penalty for his shenanigans, and Jones gained immunity for snitching. In the end, the disgraced lawyer was pardoned, and the disgruntled valet ended his own life.

Rice Owls

The monument of founder William Marsh Rice on campus. (Rice University/Twitter)

Did I forget a fun fact about your favorite AAC school that should have made it on the list? Sound off in the comment section.