Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald formally announced a 15-man recruiting class today that is among the most highly rated in program history. It's possibly Fitzgerald’s highest rated recruiting class ever-
#38 nationally by ESPN, with a composite player rating of 85.37 according to 247Sports--best in recent memory.
Rivals ranks this Northwestern recruiting class 59th overall, Scout says 50th. The press conference was held at Ditka’s restaurant in the Gold Coast, which was great for everyone involved. Much more convenient, especially given the snow, ice and hazardous travel conditions.
An insanely rough winter it has indeed been, and Northwestern
SID Paul Kennedy got the presser rolling with this weather related joke:
"Thanks for coming in the snow. This would have crippled the entire Southeastern Conference."
Recruiting, perhaps more than any topic in all of sports, is very internet driven. Internet media and the outlets that cover recruiting have a very symbiotic relationship. Throughout the press conference, Pat Fitzgerald constantly remarked about how the internet has changed recruiting...
The preseason media hype for Northwestern
was tremendous. And it kept growing well into this month.
Just 14 days ago, the local and national football media pundits were buying Northwestern stock in bunches. They weren’t just buying, it was "back up the truck and let's get this bandwagon filled."
Yet today it looks like a lost season for Northwestern.
Two weeks ago, Northwestern was #16 in the nation and undefeated. Today, they’re 4-3 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten
and likely to be underdogs in four of their last five games. On October 5th, Northwestern led unbeaten Ohio State
, who currently possess the nation’s longest winning streak, by ten points with just a few minutes remaining. And 7.4 million people were watching that game on television.
Back then, in that far away time and space, Northwestern bowl hopes were New Year’s Day at minimum with very realistic BCS potential. Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times had the Wildcats going to the Orange Bowl in the preseason. The Big Ten
Network’s website had the purple in Pasadena, even AFTER the loss to the Buckeyes
The buzz surrounding Northwestern
football was certainly quieted today with a 35-6 loss
to the Wisconsin Badgers
. The hype machine surrounding NU
hit climax last week with ESPN
College Gameday coming to Evanston, and then the ABC primetime showdown with Ohio State
. That contest of much ballyhoo ended in a “missed it by that much” and emotional drain of a loss.
Today’s defeat, by contrast, was an utter destruction from the very beginning.
It sort of reminds me of a pivotal scene in the 2000 Roland Emerich film “The Patriot.” In the Revolutionary War movie, Tom Wilkinson plays famous British General Lord Charles Cornwallis. After achieving an advantage, the Officer subordinate to Cornwallis tells him:
“But my Lord, you’ve taken the field!”
“And now we shall take their spirits! Send the entire battalion over the hill and CRUSH THEM!”
“It ends today!”
Cornwallis/Wilkinson says with prodigious bombast, instructing his Commander to make an extremely aggressive maneuver to finish off the American rebellion. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work. Not in the film’s fictional representation of the Battle of Cowpens nor in your grade school history book)
Today was for Northwestern football, that crush.
Wisconsin's defense destroyed them with a force of an entire battalion. Following up a significant setback. Last weekend was a bad loss. What happened in Madison today hurts much more.
And yes, something did “end today.” All that extra media hype and additional buzz surrounding Northwestern football...
“We have nothing to hide. We have a great group of young men that practice the right way and love improving fundamentally,” Northwestern
Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
told the media at Big Ten
That's in reference to the fact that he keeps his practices open to the media, one of the very few programs in college football
that maintains this policy. Fitzgerald was very glib and entertaining today when discussing his relationship with reporters too.
Not only is Northwestern accessible to the media; Pat Fitzgerald said his program is open to playing anybody in college football, anywhere.
“Our schedule, there’s no question we’re not afraid to play anyone,” Fitz said.
“We went into the season last year playing three BCS teams in the nonconference and had great success.”
"Great success" as Borat would say.
So why keep practices open to reporters when other schools are paranoid about secrecy...
Today, National Signing Day is Christmas Day in the world of recruiting services. It's Christmas Eve for ESPN, because they go wall to wall with coverage and act they're CNBC, telling us all day who's stock is rising and falling. It's December 25th for Rivals, Scout, ESPNU Max Preps
. and 247Sports.com
If you want to follow your college basketball
and/or college football
team year round in extreme detail, then these sites are for you. It’s all the information you can ask for, and some you didn’t. Kind of like the coverage today, you didn't really ask for it
To help make sense of all of it, I enlisted the help of the Northwestern
site manager for Rivals (owned by Yahoo!) Louie Vaccher
Training camp is underway for Northwestern football. The ‘Cats figure to be explosive on offense, with some questions on defense. Media day was Wednesday and with it Pat Fitzgerald answered some key questions about Chicago’s Big Ten team. Here were some of the highlights On Kyle Prater’s impact on offense this season… “When I... Read more »
Pat Fitzgerald had a great quote on dais at Big Ten Media Day: “some people have called me the youngest old-school person in the country, and I’m okay with that” He’s definitely earned it, as Northwestern has been to four straight bowl games, a first in school history. Their academic rating, APR is so high... Read more »