Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not Wild About the Wildcats

Last month I did a post on the five most hated Gopher opponents (definitely one that Iowa fans just loved), and for some reason I did not include the Northwestern Wildcats. Well as game day against the Purple Smart Kids approaches, I've realized the error of my ways, and would like to apologize to all five or six Northwestern football fans out there: we hate your team. Sorry for not including you sooner.

My obvious mistake was Purdue, because while I don't like Purdue and they've given us some tough losses over the years, I just hate Northwestern more. Much more. Why? It's not so much that I feel like we should beat them every year, it's that I feel like we should never lose to them. Ever. And just thinking about the fact we've lost to them two straight years makes my blood boil. It's inexcusable. It should NOT happen. The first rule of Big Ten football is YOU DO NOT LOSE TO NORTHWESTERN!!! Ok actually the first rule of Big Ten football is to hate Notre Dame (check), the second rule is to hate Michigan (check), the third rule is DO NOT lose to Indiana (che- oh wait, no they're not on the schedule for the next two seasons), and the fourth rule is you DO NOT lose to Northwestern (ch- yeah not close. We can't seem to beat Northwestern. Fail!).

I don't hate all six Northwestern fans, and I definitely don't hate their coach, Pat Fitzgerald, who's done a helluva job in his time in Evanston since the tragic passing of former coach Randy Walker in 2006. What it boils down to is I hate them not only because they've been successful and the Gophers have not, but because I feel they've been successful and they should not. I mean, they're Northwestern. They hold the NCAA 1-A record all-time records for losses, points allowed, and negative point differential. They've only been to eight bowl games since their inaugural season in 1876, and have only won one of them. They play in a small, insignificant stadium (49,256 seats) that rarely seems full. They have a great law school and are one of the most prestigious academic institutions in America. But they are NOT, or should not, have a good football program.

This is what I think of when I think of Northwestern football. And yet in the last 15 years, they've been every bit as successful as the Gophers, and I would argue even more so. Sure, they've had a few more down years in that time than Minnesota has, but instead of the sustained mediocrity we've seen at The U, when Northwestern's been good, they've been good. Consider the following:
* In 1996 they went to the Rose Bowl, something Minnesota hasn't done since 1962.
* The next year they played in the Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl), which is a New Year's Day bowl. The Gophers haven't played in a New Year's Day bowl since...you guessed it, 1962.
* They also played in the Alamo Bowl in 2000 and 2008, which is a better bowl than the Gophers have played in since-stop me if you've heard this- 1962.

Not only that, but their small stadium is actually only about 1,549 seats less than the Gophs brand spankin' new 50,805 seat TCF Bank Stadium. Would I trade Ryan Field for The Bank? Not in a bazillion years, but as it turns out, it's not like their field is rinky-dink in size compared to ours. So have I been wrong about the Wildcats? Is perception clearly not reality? It is, and yet as Minnesota Gopher fan who wants to see the Gophers in a Rose Bowl and a New Years Day Bowl and hell, even the Alamo Bowl, I still can't stomach losing to Northwestern, no matter how much they've improved in the last 15 years.

If the Gophers lose again Saturday in Evanston it'll be as much of a punch to the stomach AND a kick to the groin as the last two losses to the Purple Smart Kids have been. Because no matter how good Northwestern becomes, losing to them will always be unacceptable.

1 comment:

TDC Mole said...

Get used to it Jeff. We'll beat you like a drum on Saturday, yet again. . .