Can Northwestern Basketball ever measure up to Northwestern Football?

Can Northwestern Basketball ever measure up to Northwestern Football?
northwestern storming the court after win over #7 michigan st last year

Last night, following Northwestern’s first round ousting in the Big Ten Tournament, and thus the end of their season, NU coach Bill Carmody had some very candid comments. Of course, he was asked about his job security, and we’ll get to that, but much more interesting was what he said about finances and revenue in college athletics today.

Carmody very honestly answered a question about where football and basketball rank in the hierarchy. A lot of it has to do with Northwestern’s new $200+ million athletic facilities, (Or $200 billion by the math of the Sun-Times’ Neil Hayes. Hey, I kid, I kid, we all make mistakes…as my commenters on here LOVE to point out)

Here’s an excerpt of the transcript from the press conference:

Q. How would you evaluate, I don’t want to say up-and-down, tenure at Northwestern, because you’ve done some great things. But how would you evaluate your time here so far?

BILL CARMODY: Everyone’s goal is to get in the NCAA tournament. So we haven’t been able to accomplish that. But in a hundred years we haven’t been able to accomplish that. And there’s not that much different now about what Northwestern offers than it was when Kevin O’Neill was here and [Ricky] Byrdsong and Bill Foster and all those.

So everyone knows, people have talked about it, it’s sort of like an arms race. So the gap might be widening that way. But I feel like we have done a pretty good job of bringing in some pretty good players and getting better.

So, in that regard, the goal of the staff and the players all along has been to get to the tournament and I think the administration knows that we have to sort of move ahead. A big step is being made with the Lakefront facility and the money coming in is fantastic. Down the road it’s going to help us.

Q. Football’s obviously gotten a big uptick and I’m sure the fund raising —


Q. In wins and attention and I’m sure in

BILL CARMODY: Well, you know, football and basketball are apples and oranges. We have been in the post-season, the NIT, all that kind of stuff. And football raises. Football — money comes in from football. People said 85 percent is football and basketball is like 15 percent. And our administration knows that and they’re going to do something about that. And it’s just a question of you have to pick something first. And I think we’ll benefit from some of the things that are in this Lakefront facility, academically and the training facilities and then we have to move on to the future.

Yep, football comes first at NU, just like it does America. It’s our national game and college basketball has a ways to go to catch up to college football in popularity and revenue production. And Northwestern basketball has a ways to go when it comes to catching up with the success of Northwestern football. Pat Fitzgerald has built a consistent winner that makes bowl games year in and year out- finally ending the bowl win drought this past January 1.

And that’s why the cross section of the NU fanbase clamoring for Carmody’s dismissal are seeking a “basketball Fitz.” However, remember that Fitzgerald wasn’t the one who had to start the program from scratch- that was Gary Barnett. Randy Walker kept them competitive and then Fitzgerald brought a new level of winning consistency. Barnett brought the football program up from the abyss, as did Carmody with hoops.  Now it’s a question of whether Carmody, or someone else, will bring the ‘Cats to the next level.

And Carmody is right in “you have to pick something first.” And in America it’s usually football. Look at Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame, all have very solid to sometimes spectacular hoops history. Yet all three programs don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve; because the football program on campus overshadows them.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He’s an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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