Big Ten Country

Marketing Madness

I LOVE this move by Mike Polisky and the NU Athletic Department.  Several of you have sent photos of NU billboards in Dallas marking the “Big D” as Northwestern Country.  Some might question the validity and impact of these billboards, but Texas has become quite a recruiting pipeline for Northwestern.  There are currently seven players from the Lone Star State and two from the Dallas area and Texas ranks behind only Illinois and Ohio for player pipelines.  It also sends a message to bowl officials that NU will embrace, market and support whichever bowl we attend.  Plus, when folks like me start writing about it and other news outlets pick up on it, the ploy garners earned media.  Add in a sense of pride for the very strong alumni base in Dallas and you’ve got my full support on this splash.  Thanks to all of you who sent the photos (Peter L & Co.)

One of the NU billboards in the Dallas area this week

Local Coverage

The Dallas Morning News is giving some NU-angled coverage on the two-headed Watkins/Colter monster. Click here to get the local angle on the ‘Cats-Red Raiders game.

Big Ten Country

It is way too early to start drawing conclusions about the strength of the Big Ten in 2010 based on two bowl games, but you have to admit a depleted Iowa team beating #12 Missouri and Illinois pounding Baylor essentially in a road game bodes well for our conference’s on-field reputation. Clearly, we all understand that how we perform on January 1 and in BCS play is the true test, but it is enough that I’ve started to reevaluate our schedule and in some way, given more credence to our rough road this past conference season. 

As I watched Mikel Leshoure shred Baylor and Nathan Scheelhaase pass at will against Baylor I started to have bowl envy. Reliant Stadium looked packed and the atmosphere was top-notch on ESPN for the Texas Bowl.  I believe we could’ve landed in this bowl if Jim Phillips really pushed for it, but when it comes to match-ups on paper Texas Tech gives us the best shot for the win which is goal number one for the program right now.  We all know the aesthetic will not be nearly as good for our bowl game as the simple math of a 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl wouldn’t be filled by 99% of the bowl participants.  I was actually shocked to see some of the unsportsmanlike moments in the game as Baylor tried several times to ignite Illinois’ ire with cheapshot moves.  I actually love the draw of getting Texas Tech from a match-up standpoint and like most, simply want the win – ANY win in a bowl game so we can raise the bar of expectations once again and eliminate any negative “streak” that lingers in the program. 

Demos’ Depth of Injury Surfaces

I had heard several inside reports about the health challenges of Stefan Demos during the season, but at the time I felt it wasn’t in the best interest of the program to post about it.  However, now that it has been publicized that he has been enduring a pretty serious hip injury that was kept “in-house” despite the consistent trials and tribulations on FGs and PATs this season. Scott Powers has the story here on ESPN.com and after reading this if you don’t think karma is on our side for a last second game-winning FG by Demos then we don’t think alike. Heck, I’d love a blowout win, but let’s face it, bowl history tees up Saturday for a white knuckler.  I predicted last season after the Outback debacle that Demos would redeem himself in 2011 with a bowl game winning kick. To think about the alternative, well, it is too cruel to go there.

Shurna Limping Towards Start?

A positive progress report by ESPNChicago.com’s Scott Powers on John Shurna being able to practice yesterday.  If you read between the lines of Shurna’s quotes, he’ll be far from 100% but potentially able to contribute. At least the news is trending positive. Click here for the update on his ankle.

Texas Tech DC Departure Reasons Becoming More Clear

James Willis made news earlier this week with the announcement of his abrupt departure from Texas Tech where he served as the defensive coordinator for this past season. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Willis MAY be the subject of a domestic violence incident.  He has not been named a suspect, but as this report states, a 33-year-old female alleged she was a victim.

Rise Northwestern

It really is incredible how many Northwestern-specific blogs exist.  Rise Northwestern posted this 1-on-1 interview with NU beat reporter Scott Powers of ESPN.com fame.  It was interesting to note Powers’ comments on yesterday’s practice of NU running the Wildcat offense. Check out the interview here.

Bowl Mania Update

Ugh. LTP is in freefall and currently in 15th place. There have been some big jumpers in the LTP Bowl Mania, but Sanderson5941 is clinging to his first place lead with a total of 233 points. “Hudaifa” is hot on the trail in second with 226 points and keep an eye on East Lansing Cat who is making a run.  There are four games on tap for today and Sanderson5941 has SMU over Army, Syracuse over Kansas State, Tennessee over UNC and Nebraksa over Washington. 

Sailgate Update

Army battles SMU in Dallas and NU can get an in-person scouting report against one of our 2011 non-conference opponents.  We had a phenomenal response to the road trip “sailgate” idea, meaning, an LTP-sponsored floating tailgate from Manhattan up to West Point for the Northwestern at Army game next September.  We’ll be revealing more specific information after the New Year. Do know we’re making progress on the plans. It is going to be an event to remember.

The TCU Thing

Northwestern practiced at TCU yesterday as Fitz cashed-in a favor from his coaching buddy Gary Patterson.  TCU is a program that always makes me do a double-take.  Patterson reminds me physcially of Randy Walker and of course the purple is unmistakable. I just realized that the Rose Bowl will be half purple for the first time since January 1, 1996.  Perhaps we should squint for the TCU-Wisconsin game to bring us to that happy place. 

Persa Props

As mentioned earlier this week, Dan Persa made the Chicago Tribune’s Top Ten sports stories of the year. Yesterday, the official rank of “local story #4” was published so click here to get a non-Teddy G. perspective of Persa’s incredible season.

Mark This

Tina Akouris highlights Venric Mark’s return to Texas (he’s a Houston native) and his progress across the board in this Sun-Times article.  I love his quote about taking his return to Texas personally.  Texas Tech has a stellar punt coverage (5.8 ypp) unit and solid kickoff return coverage team (20.7 ypr). Clearly, he’ll have his work cut out for him on special teams.  Is there any question we involve Venric in some trickeration?

Jones-in

Completing the linkfest today is a neat piece on true frosh WR Tony Jones from the local angle at MLive.com.  Nothing too shocking here in the article, but you get a sense of the maturation of Tony by both his quotes and the perspective of WR coach Kevin Johns.

  • David in Dallas

    In addition to designing great billboards (though I would like to see another “U” to make the second “GO U NU!”), the marketing department also did an excellent job with placement. The “Dallas’ Big Ten Team” billboard is on Airport Freeway (183), so look for it as you drive in from the airport toward downtown. (There also is a parking lot underneath and in front of it if you want to stop and take your own pictures!) The second is near Fair Park, so you should see it as you head to the pep rally on Friday or the game on Saturday. Have your cameras at the ready; it’s a tougher picture to get!

  • Richard

    The 2 bowls games so far prove that spread-based B12 teams can’t stop power-running B10 teams. As I posted elsewhere, this bodes well for the PSU-Florida game (only game left where a power-running B10 team faces a spread opponent) as well as Wisconsin-TCU (TCU’s defense is all about speed, but they’ll be going up against probably the best example of a B10 power running team). Maybe OSU-Arkansas as well. Arkansas is balanced, but I’m not sure the Hogs face a team as physical as tOSU (or Wisconsin or Iowa or Illinois or PSU or MSU) that often.

    On the other hand, MSU would be going up against a carbon copy in ‘Bama, except the Tide have faster athletes while in the Michigan-MissSt. matchup, RichRod’s team is the spread offense/no defense team facing a defense/ball control-oriented opponent.

    I’m not sure how much we can extrapolate from the 2 B10 victories so far, since we don’t have a power running game (or really, much of an offensive game without Persa). I’m pretty confident that our defense can hold its own against an offense that’s actually rather mediocre (looking at offensive efficiency instead of raw stats) and which can’t pound us with a power running game like Illinois & PSU did, but we’d still have to score points some how.

  • wildcat6

    @Richard

    I’m not concerned with scoring points. Even without Persa, we managed 50 points in our last two games, albeit blowout losses. And Texas Tech’s porous defense will allow us to score.

    My concern is with the defense. If we can’t move the chains on offense consistently, our defense will be on the field. A LOT. Texas Tech has a deep and talented receiving corps, and two QBs who can deliver the ball to them. We have to make some stops on third down, or they are simply going to wear us out.

  • wildcat6

    Re: my previous comment. I concede that 14 of those 50 points in the last two games were courtesy of Brian Peters and Venric Mark and not produced by the offense. Still, with Watkins at QB, we moved the ball pretty effectively, especially at Wisconsin, and were only undone by excessive turnovers.

  • Good and bad:

    Good – Persa expects to be ready by spring practice

    Bad – Teddy Greenstein thinks NU might sell out 6,000 ticket allotment with the help of donations, but only 3-4,000 will actually go to NU fans in attendance. Pretty sad numbers. With Texas Tech just over 5,000 tickets right now and only 30-35,000 tickets sold overall, it’s going to be a sad sight.

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  • sanderson5941

    Really wishing I could make it on Saturday. I was planning on it but I am in the military and have watch, so no go.

    Still can’t believe Iowa beat Mizzou. Great for the Big Ten and bad for my #35 point pick….

  • hudhaifa3

    Sanderson5941..
    What branch of military? I am in also. Air Force currently stationed at Ramstein AB. GO CATS!!!!!

  • wildcat6

    @sanderson and @hudhaifa

    Hope you’re able to enjoy the game via local coverage. Thank you for your service!

  • CatInTheHat

    According to Hail to Purple, the TicketCity Bowl CEO is estimating that total ticket sales/attendance will be around 30-35,000. That’s going to look mighty sparse in the cavernous Cotton Bowl…

  • WolfCat

    @David in Dallas
    Thank you so much for being a local set of eyes and ears for this bowl trip. This is our 4th bowl trip and we have never been so connected, that I can recall, to the location. You have been great in providing information and we really appreciate it. You’ve been quite an Ambassador!

  • @ sanderson5941 & @ hudhaifa3: Thank you for serving the country! It is appreciated.

    If you can’t see the game directly, there’s wgnradio.com for audio streaming. I also tweet the game play by play (sort of) – I mark things with the #northwestern tag. (See http://northwesternmix.com/2010/11/tweeting-northwestern-wildcats-games.html for the method I developed for NU football games.) I’m nuspiritleader if you want to follow me on Twitter.

    Go Cats!

  • hudhaifa3

    @wildcat6 & @ NUMBSpiritLeader Appreciate it. And I will follow you on twitter now.

    For all a great website to watch a game………….http://www.watch-sports.com/pro/
    You can make a request to watch any game and he (mineshaft) will find it for you and stream it if he can. I haven’t missed ONE game this year since finding this link. Living in Germany before finding this site I have even had a uncle put a game on SKYPE for me, and I make my 3 yr old son wake up to watch games with me……..a sickness yes I know.

  • UVA Cat

    @hudaifa3

    I think you have good company in that many of us thankfully have the same dedication and “sickness”. I presume that many of us would do the same thing. When we were stationed in Japan, I can recall watching several games on the Armed Forces Network at odd hours of the night. I particularly remember the 2007 48-41 OT win vs. MSU and the 2005 28-27 win vs Iowa!

    Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year and a Northwestern win on New Year’s Day!

  • UVA Cat

    Good news re: NU Basketball vs. Purdue today…

    The Sun Times reports that Shurna will play vs. Purdue (ESPN2, 11AM CT / 12PM ET):
    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/colleges/3089092-419/wildcats-shurna-purdue-season-ten.html

  • David in Dallas

    @WolfCat: It’s my pleasure! I am thrilled to have the Cats here this weekend! So, did you figure out what you are doing for New Year’s Eve? I am going to watch the basketball game at the hotel and will be at the pep rally, of course, but I am still uncertain about tomorrow night.

  • GoCats

    I found this place on yelp, it’s close to my hotel and probably where I’ll head for new years eve drinking:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/oe-penguin-dallas

    It looks kind of cool, and cats eat penguins so it’s probably lucky

  • CatInTheHat

    Hey all, just so you know–the back room at Thomas Street Beverage Co. in downtown Dallas has been rented out by NU to watch the basketball game at 11:00 a.m. CT tomorrow (Friday). This is the same venue that is holding the Young Alum NYE event (which is open to young-at-heart alums too–and PLEASE do show up!). Essentially, we are taking over this bar until we get kicked out pre-TicketCity Bowl. I will be there, and I hope some of you are as well.

  • CatInTheHat

    @ hudhaifa3: are you in Israel by any chance?

  • CatInTheHat

    And finally…we saw a fire in the Washington Huskies tonight that needs to be duplicated by the Northwestern Wildcats on New Year’s Day.

  • cat07

    2001 was a half-purple Rose Bowl too…Washington Huskies won!
    I am getting ready to end the draught. GO ‘CATS!

  • anonymous

    @UVA Cat yes armed forces is good for football but they will be showing the other 3 big ten games tomorrow so I will have to stream it.
    @Catinthehat….in Germany, Ramstein AB
    GO CATS!!!! beat Purdue and Texas Tech

  • WolfCat

    @David in Dallas
    We didn’t get in until late last night but think we may head to the Young Alum party tonight. It was either that or the pandemonium at the American Airlines Center. But I think I will choose fandemonium instead. Where are you going?

    Hey Cat fans…whats everyone doing tonight??

  • WolfCat

    Congrats to NU wrestler Brandon Precin…the new reigning NCAA champ of the Midlands Championship! Lets keep the winning streaks going Cats!!

  • David in Dallas

    I am told they also are showing the basketball game at the Hyatt Regency, the team hotel, downstairs, just around from the alumni association table.

  • David in Dallas

    @WolfCat: Well, though I am far from being one, I may head to the young alumni party as well. Like you, I’d prefer to ring in the New Year in purple!

  • NU_Roger

    Last year’s Young Alum NYE party in Tampa was packed with Purple and attended by NU alums of all vintages. Go Cats!

  • Jimmy

    That is the stupidest thing in the world. Making a big deal about NU being a big part in Dallas? I’m from Dallas and I can assure you, no one gives a damn about Northwestern University there. Wow, 7 recruits from there? Big stuff…. All NU means to us is another ‘Little Sisters of the Poor School’ but then I guess they should fit right in since others involved in the Big10 pretty much recognize TCU and their schedule as that. Hope you had a good laugh cause Big10 football will never compete with the southern tradition that IS football. But it was a good ‘try’ and a nice copy of what TCU did to “THE” Ohio State University, but we both know they had it coming to them. And look at them now… Tressel about to get hit big by the NCAA for his actions. And that serves them right because to be honest with you, I can’t stand OSU. And they deserve the same punishment that USC had handed down to them. Because really it was the same deal. Letting players play that we ineligible and keeping it from the NCAA for almost a year AND trying to cover it up. Yeah thats right, Tressel tried to cover it up. Read the emails. So nice try Northwestern University, you accomplished nothing, except having millions more people pissed off at you.

  • Jimmy

    @Richard
    I would like to see these Big10 teams play in the SEC. They couldn’t handle the athletes from Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Ole Piss (Not a big fan of Houston Nutt) Look at all the defensive linemen from the schools and compare them to the offenses of the Big10. We win 9 out of 10 times. Look at the arm of Mallett, the speed of Newton, Ingram, and Trent Richards. Check out the ability of Julio Jones, Greg Childs, and A.J. Green. Lee Zimba and the rest of the linemen throughout the league are stellar and the coaches are even better. Nick Saban is a genius and Gus Mahlzan cannot be beat when it comes to offensive scemes. So don’t you dare say that the Big10 is better than the SEC teams and for that matter the Big12 either. Just look at the bowl records…

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