Jimmy Fallon not only acknowledges that Gonzaga exists – the chat show host also is championing the Bulldogs.
“The Tonight Show” host surprised Gonzaga nation, but not the university, when Fallon announced Monday night that he and his popular late-night NBC program are supporting the Bulldogs’ run for their first NCAA basketball crown.
“We were made aware of it (last Thursday),” said Devon Thomas, senior associate athletic director. “We’re super-excited that they chose Gonzaga as their team for March Madness. It’s great for our school and our program. It’s awesome.”
“Here at ‘The Tonight Show,’ we like to pick a team to do something fun with every year,” Fallon said during Monday night’s show. “Sometimes, we go with underdogs. This year, we’re going with the Gonzaga Bulldogs: Go, Zags!”
“The Tonight Show” is sending students “Rowdy Rags,” a blue rally towel emblazoned with the mascot. Fallon is making a request to the student section.
“I need Gonzaga to know we’re in this together,” Fallon said. “We’re going to give all the students these Rowdy Rags. … What we’re going to ask them to do is whenever the (game) clock hits 11:35, which is when ‘The Tonight Show’ airs … when that comes on the clock, I want you to stand up, wave the Rowdy Rags and yell, ‘I’ll tell you what I want / What I really, really want.’ ”
The latter is the lyrics to the Spice Girls hit “Wannabe.” The Gonzaga concept came directly from Fallon. Fallon’s embrace of Gonzaga is the antithesis of the “Gonzaga doesn’t exist” teasing by rival talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
“I don’t believe Gonzaga exists,” Kimmel said in 2019. “I think it’s very possible that Gonzaga is a hoax, probably cooked up by the Canadians to screw up our basketball brackets. … I don’t know where Gonzaga is. I don’t know anyone who went there. … All I know about Gonzaga is that in March, I hear the word 30 times a day.”
Get used to it, Kimmel.
“Now that we exist, it’s great that ‘The Tonight Show’ is going to have fun with this,” Thomas said. “We can’t wait to get those Rowdy Rags.”
According to a Fallon publicist, information about when and where the rags will be delivered to campus will be announced soon. Expect Fallon and the Roots, his house band, to wax about Gonzaga quite a bit over the next couple of weeks.
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