10 of CFB’s Most Mispronounced Names
Seth Doege (Day-gee), QB, Texas Tech
Starting with Red Raiders gunslinger Seth Doege (Day-gee). Doege’s name has been butchered so many times that Texas Tech decided to make a video called “Teach Me How to Doege” just to help people remember. Hopefully, it won’t lead to people now pronouncing it “Dougie.”
Most commonly botched by people saying “Do-jee,” it’s easiest to recall his name by remembering that it rhymes with “Maybe” as Doege playfully says in the Red Raiders’ video: “Here’s my number, just call me Doege.”
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Isi Sofele (E-see so-fell-ay), RB, Cal
Things are hard enough for the Golden Bears running back, who stands just 5-foot-8 and weighs 190 pounds but runs with the tenacity of someone half a foot taller and 30 pounds heavier.
Players with Polynesian names like Sofele (who is Tongan) have often had tough-to-pronounce first and last names. For the most part, play-by-play announcers have handled his name well. But when they’re rushing (probably to keep up with Cal’s fleet-of-foot back), it sounds more Italian (suh-fell-ee) than Tongan.
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Casey Pachall (Paw-hall), QB, TCU
If you’re a TCU fan, it’s tough to move past all-everything quarterback Andy Dalton (a hard name to screw up) when you have a hard time reaching a consensus on how to say his successor’s name.
This was a debate on Horned Frogs message boards as far back as October 2010, the season before Pachall took the reins from Dalton. Some insisted on the correct pronunciation, while others insisted it was Paw-haw (with a silent “L”) and “Packle” (as in rhymes with “tackle”).
This is a player who threw for 473 yards and five TDs on the road in an upset of No. 5 Boise State last year. Just learn his name already.
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Monteé (Mon-tay) Ball, RB, Wisconsin
We the college football cognoscenti are quite embarrassed. We’ve been mispronouncing the first name of the player who tied Barry Sanders’ mark for TDs scored in a season the whole time.
We all just assumed that the two e’s at the end meant a pronunciation of Mon-TEE. And Ball himself admits that when he arrived in Madison he didn’t correct the people — including his coaches — who made the error in pronunciation.
Ball’s birth certificate, in fact, contains an accent over the second “e,” hence the French-like pronunciation. It wasn’t until his girlfriend heard the proper pronunciation from Ball’s parents and urged him to correct people that Mon-TAY was introduced to college football fans.
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Star Lotulelei (Lo-too-leh-lay), DT, Utah
When your own head coach has a visible look of relief on his face upon correctly pronouncing your last name, you know you have a tongue-twister.
Give Kyle Wittingham credit, at least he goes for it. Coaches from both inside the Pac-12 (former Wazzu head man Paul Wulff) and out (Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson) aren’t as bold.
Johnson has the best response for anyone answering questions about who worries them on the Utes defense: “I don’t know how to pronounce his name right, but the guy, Star.”
If ESPN’s Todd McShay is correct, you will hear Lotuleli called as the first overall pick of next April’s NFL draft. Chris Berman might want to start practicing now.
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Manti Te’o (Man-tie Tay-oh), LB, Notre Dame
There are some very helpful memory tricks one can use for the Irish’s stud inside linebacker.
With the first name, imagine that Te’o tightens up on offenses like a tie on a neck. He’s a “man tie.” But while he’s often compared to the late Junior Seau, Manti’s last name is not pronounced “Tay-ow” - it’s “Tay-oh” like the abbreviation for knockout (“KO”), which the linebacker does plenty of.
If you still have trouble, just call him Mr. T.
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Rushel (Russell) Shell, RB, Pitt
Folks in Pittsburgh have been lucky enough to know about Shell — and that his first name is pronounced just like “Russell” — since the fall of 2008, when Shell was a high school freshman.
Those finding out about Shell for the first time this fall will probably say his first name so that it sounds like “Rochelle.” That includes Pitt’s opponents, who will be all too eager to point out how Shell’s first name sounds like a girl’s (even if they are incorrect).
A relative of Pitt great Tony Dorsett and one of the top recruits in the nation last season, it won’t take long for people to catch onto the non-intuitive name.
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Nathan Scheelhaase (Sheel-house), QB, Illinois
Look no further than the nicknames bestowed upon the Illini QB as a guide for how to say the second part of his last name: “Haase Odds,” “Full Haase” and “the Haase always wins.”
When reporters and TV see a classic, Midwestern name with two sets of consecutive vowels strung together, the temptation to go overly Germanic in the pronunciation will be there (as ESPN’s Linda Cohn has proven).
“Sheel-house” sounds like the name of a dynamic action hero. “Scheel-hoss” sounds like the name of a bartender at a German beer garden.
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Kenjon (Ken-yon) Barner, RB, Oregon
If a small, Division III school in Ohio had gone after Barner early enough, they could have built their pitch around how cool it would be to play for a team with the same pronunciation as his first name.
Alas, Barner ended up at Oregon. It would be flat-out wrong to mispronounce his first name as “Kenyan” because he’s much more of a sprinter than a distance runner. And as a native of California and not the South, he’s not the type to have a double first name combination like “Ken Jon.”
Or just call him “Barner the Burner.” It’s much cooler sounding.
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Stepfan (Stuh-fon) Taylor, RB, Stanford
It makes sense that a school like Stanford would feature a football player whose name sounds the same as that of Steve Urkel’s suave alter ego from “Family Matters.” (It’s not fair that they get the brains and the brawn.) Taylor is a power back, so he’s not so much a “step fan” as he is a fan of plowing through people. And no, it’s not “Stephen” either.
Or just go by the nickname Andrew Luck game him: “S.T. Mode.” We’re with Taylor on that one when he says that he “really [doesn’t] know where he got it from.”
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