Inspiration struck Conor Mongan in November 2002, while he was sitting on the purple, velour sofa in his apartment in the Mission Valley neighborhood of San Diego, Calif. He was watching a television news report about a court appearance by Michael Jackson when a close-up image of the pop star appeared on the screen. Mongan shuddered at Jackson's unsightliness, at his unnaturally pointy and scabby nose, his too-white skin and bug-eyed expression. Then he thought:
That's it! It's perfect!
His reaction requires some context. At the time, the 25-year-old Mongan was one of the ringleaders of the student section at San Diego State men's basketball games, a group later self-dubbed The Show. Though he stopped attending classes at San Diego State in 1999, Mongan remained one of The Show's figureheads, using his background in graphic design to create the T-shirts that fans wore during games. That November, Mongan had been pondering ways the group could better distract opposing free throw shooters. When Jackson's face popped up on Mongan's television, it triggered an aha moment: If he had been so stricken by Jackson's mug, Mongan thought, imagine how a free throw shooter would react.
Working out of a local Kinko's over the next few days, Mongan divided the image of Jackson into quarters using Photoshop and then printed each quarter on an 11x17 piece of paper. He then pieced the photo back together, adhered it to a 20x30 poster board, and cut the outline with scissors.
The Jackson big head made its first appearance at the Aztecs' Dec. 12 game at Long Beach State.