Is “The Big Ragu” The Greatest Nickname In Sports?

Alright so football is over. You know that. I know that. The whore on the street corner knows that*.  No more thinking about a fan-duel lineup or buying the half point on a 3 point spread. It’s done. Move on. And if you’re anything like me, when you finally move on, your fall into college basketball is deeper than a TJ Sorrentine three on a cold Worcester night.

So that happened to me today.  I was prepping my picks for the day when I saw we were getting Gus Johnson and Villanova at the Noon slot which could only mean one thing: The Big Ragu. If you don’t know who the Big Ragu is then I would kindly ask you to watch more film, but feel free to step into my office. He is Donte Divincenzo. He’s a redshirt sophomore from Wilmington, DE. He’s arguably the second most important player on the team behind POY candidate Jalen Brunson. He is the team’s third leading scorer. He rebounds. He defends.  He also has an extremely Italian name and red hair.

Donte Divencenzo aka “The Big Ragu” himself

Coined by Gus Johnson in the Winter of 2017, The Big Ragu is about to blow up as more people begin to care about college ball. But this article is not about his talent or skills, it’s about his nickname. They say a nickname is perfect when it recognizes its counterpart in another*.

The Three Critical Rules of Nicknaming:

The Big Ragu is the best nickname in sports because it satisfies the three critical rules of nicknaming:

  1. If the individual has red hair, comment on it.
  2. If the individual has a funny untraditional-American name, comment on it.

Only if you satisfy #1 and #2…

3.  Combine #1 and #2 into a name that is a commentary on the individual’s skill-set.

Application to Ragu:

Alright so let’s break this down.

Clearly, Rule #1 is satisfied. The Big Ragu has red hair. Ragu is a sauce typically served with pasta that is also red. Red hair, red sauce. Hilarious. If I were Rachel McAdams, I would use this as the foundation for a wedding toast (Ted’s favorite color is green like money etc etc, c’mon man keep up)*.

See: Red Rifle, Canelo, “Red”

Rule #2 is also satisfied. Donte Divencenzo is a wild name. Say that name with a Don Corleone accent/mumble while you move your hand as you speak and people will think you’re a made man. And it’s rare to see the double Italian. Tons of people have the Italian sounding last name, but can you also get that Italian sounding first name? Like I said, wild.

See: Italian Stallion,  Flying Hawaiian

Which brings us to Rule #3. The coveted rule that many nicknames fail to satisfy. The Big Ragu. Alright so we got the fact that Divincenzo has red hair so we need something red. And also this guy’s name sounds like a damn Andre Boccelli lyric so we got to do something Italian. Alright, pasta sauce is red as shit and something unique to Italian culture. Ok, so we go with marinara? Bolognese? Primavera?

No. There is only one sauce that works here.


When’s the last time you been to Ragu’s website? You know how many sauces those motherfuckers make? Homestyle, Old World, Chunky, Cheese, Alfredo… The list is endless. Ragu fits every possible role in the pasta eating world. It is versatile enough to fit any Italian dish. It can bury you with a meat flavored heavy dish. And it can serenade you with something light and sensual. You can even put it in your hair when you’re having a rough day*.

It’s like watching Donte Divincenzo on Villanova. One second you can see him guarding a guard, or pulling up from three. And the next he’s demonstrating his interior defense or ripping a board. The epitome of versatility.

Find me a better nickname than that.

*4 Wedding Crashers reffies.

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  1. The Big Ragu was Carmine Ragusas Nick name on Laverne and Shirley in the late 70s and 80s.

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