Purple Mafia Profile: Sippin’ On Purple

It’s Friday and a time for another edition of the fan favorite feature, Purple Mafia Profile.  Today we feature the owner of Sippin’ On Purple, the Wildcats blog which is the representative for our ‘Cats on the ever-growing SB Nation blog network.  Specifically, we caught up with Rodger Sherman, a current junior at NU, and I took the particular bent of the student angle since Rodger’s fellow classmates are also NU athletes. 

Before we dive in I thought I’d weigh in on the fact that there are so many Northwestern athletics-related blogs.  The entire reason I started this back in 2007 was mostly based on the fact that there was a void in the marketplace for NU football blogs and I thought I’d better step up or else the mere absence of ANY blog would reinforce the erroneous myth that there aren’t a lot of us out there.  I also came to learn that Hail To Purple, the unofficial sports historian of NU, has a great resource to show that LTP was far from a pioneer.  You can check the list of LTP predecessors that have come and gone on their link here.  

Today, there are nearly double-digit NU-specific blogs.  Sippin’ On Purple and LTP, I would say, have the most frequency in terms of content, but of course mainstay Hail To Purple is alive and well, plus as you can see in the blog rolls on respective sites there are a slew of us including the eccentric and seemingly everyone’s favorite, Bring Your Champions, They’re Our Meat.  We’ve even got a dedicated blog called Fire Bill Carmody which is actually a very pro-NU basketball blog.  Heck, the owner is from Rhode Island, just like me which is a tad odd. Two Northwestern blogs from native Rhode Islanders? There aren’t two of anything from Rhode Island, unless you count mafia members (and we’re not talking the purple variety).  C’mon, you remember Sopranos. Whenever Tony needed a really nasty deed taken care of he sent folks up to Providence and it was “done”.  Today we’re going to go to much safer place and keep this Purple Mafia related.

But first.  Rodger already has a post up on the recently rumored and now confirmed speculation about John Shurna’s potential testing the NBA Draft waters.  You can read SOP and Rodger’s take and begin your nausea here.  I’ve got one word for John – “lockout”.  I recently spoke with a major NBA hoops agent and insiders at NBA-related networks.  They are almost cavalier in their expectation that there will be no season.  Several were talking best case scenario was potentially starting by NBA All-Star (if there is one – a point multiple folks told me was in real jeopardy).  While the NFL is getting all the labor talk love, I actually believe it is the NBA that is going to be missing games.  I’d hate for John to go out and then not play in the NBA.  Based on his injury-riddled season I think he’d be hard-pressed to say that this season is optimal for his draft status.  That’s just my two cents.

OK, let’s get in to it with Rodger.

LTP: Alright Rodger, welcome to LTP.  You’ve been doing great work at SOP, but tell us a little bit about you.  Give us the bio my friend.

RS: I’m a junior in Medill and just got done serving my journalism residency at the Northwest Herald out in Crystal Lake.  I’m from New York. My career aspiration is to basically just to get paid money by anybody to write things, regardless of medium or topic. (I have low standards.) I’m currently the sports editor of the Daily Northwestern, a job equally prestigious as writing Sippin’ on Purple.

LTP: You’re most in-tune with the mindset of the NU student base of any Wildcat blogger. What is the sentiment about Northwestern basketball right now?

RS: The “we’re always awful” stereotype is still present even among our student body, and at least in terms of basketball, the sport simply doesn’t have the same semi-required attendance that home football games do – people go to football games to tailgate and socialize, and that’s just not a thing for basketball. That said, I was very pleased with student turnout this year, and there was a palpable feeling that things are starting to click.

LTP: Current juniors only know Northwestern to be a postseason team. Granted, the “postseason” is defined as the NIT.  How familiar are current students with the fact that this consolation prize triumvirate is the best run in school history?

RS: Hey, I’m a current junior! It’s hard not to make NIT jokes. It’s the NIT: you’re conditioned to think it’s the second-best thing for your whole life, then you show up at NU and it’s an accomplishment. But yeah, we know that NU is better than ever. That said, we also know not to get too excited over three NIT bids, because, you know, there’s this other tournament.

LTP: Spring football is upon us. What is the buzz on campus? What are expectations like for the 2011 season?

 RS: Quite frankly, I don’t think anybody that isn’t, like, me knows about spring football. That said, expectations for 2011 are relatively high: the student body is in collective awe of Dan Persa, and we’re also used to above .500 football, and we would be sort of surprised to violently switch back into losing seasons. Nobody’s picking the Rose Bowl, but, well, nobody’s picking us to go 3-9 either.

LTP: Ugh. That answer just killed me. I thought we were making tremendous progress in this area. OK, time to divert my frustration and channel it elsewhere for a moment. What’s your personal take on Carmody and the state of NU hoops?

RS: I have a million things to say about Bill Carmody. To summarize and way way over-simplify, you can’t get rid of a guy off back-to-back best seasons in school history and the most postseason play ever. I’ve long thought that keeping a guy in charge who has gone 10+ years without a tourney sends a bad message to recruits – how are you going to tell people “we care about going to the NCAA Tournament and think you can help us” when the guy in power, you know, hasn’t – but the Cats are doing too well right now for NU to switch coaching horses at this midstream point.

LTP: While we are at it, we should give this shameless plug for The Daily Northwestern article that commenters were talking about yesterday as it was a fantastic feature on NU assistant hoops coach Tavaras Hardy.  Click here for a must read.  Now, back to football.  What gives you hope that Hankwitz & Co. will turn the tide on “D” this upcoming season? Specific areas of concern for you?

RS: My feeling with regards to our defense is that it can’t really regress that much, so, no place to go but up! I don’t really have an answer because the unit was pretty poor last year and loses two of its best players in Nate Williams and Quentin Davie, who made the linebacking unit the core of the defense. I’m not sure the defense has a strong suit besides Vince Browne being good at football.

 LTP: I guess I’d agree to disagree. You’ve got to give some love to Jordan Mabin.  I also have high hopes for Jeravin Matthews and Ibraheim Campbell, but perhaps it is wishful thinking at this point.  How much does the bowl losing streak make its way in to conversation at the dining hall these days?

RS: It’s a joke. Some of my senior friends this year were pretty disappointed that they’d graduated without seeing a bowl win, but it does sort of propel the pitch for bowl attendance – really, you’re going to potentially miss out on NU’s first bowl in like 150 years? At this point, it’s getting ridiculous, because we’re actually going to these bowls every year – our streak isn’t just long in terms of being since 1949, but also long in that we’ve lost what, eight bowls in a row? The Outback Bowl is something which we just straight up don’t talk about, especially because so many of us went.

LTP: Students often have a different perspective in terms of the “fan favorite” usually because the opinions are much more based on interaction.  Who are the guys on this team that really resonate with students?

RS: For basketball, obviously Luka Mirkovic for his face-hitting and general Euro vibe. Football it’s a little bit more difficult to gauge who the student section’s most popular player is because numbers and players fluctuate so rapidly, and 80 percent of the convo related to on-field play is just “wait, who caught that pass?” – but it’s probably Evan Watkins, because, well, College Gameday (ed note: the “Gameday” reference is apparently somewhat of an insider joke as a fan had a pretty explicit sign that made the air taking the “E” “S” “P” “N” letters to infer that, well, Evan Watkins gets lucky with the ladies nightly.  Not commenting on Evan, just the sign).

LTP: Favorite sports moment as a student so far?

RS: Favorite moment so far, very, very, very specific moments of the Outback Bowl. (worst moment so far: the rest of the Outback Bowl.)

LTP: Thanks Rodger.  I appreciate the time and keep the ball rolling on campus.  For those of us nearly double your age it is almost unthinkable that as a senior-to-be you have yet to witness a football or basketball team that has NOT made the postseason.  Time to turn the corner and get a bowl win and an NCAA berth and your senior year would come second only the 1996 seniors.  Keep in touch.

Alright readers, if you’ve got a purple mafia profile that you’d like to see and can make the connection (Greenberg? Tom Myers? Others?) please do so and email me at laketheposts@gmail.com .  Football, football, football from here on out through next Saturday’s Spring Game.

  • wildcat6

    @LTP

    I’d love to see a purple mafia profile of presnapread.com’s Paul Myerberg, since you mentioned you might do it awhile back. I wasn’t aware of Paul’s connection to NU, but you implied there was one. He’s got one of the best, most informative, classiest college football blogs out there. Only 28 days until the preseason rankings (of the 120 teams) begin!

  • Lake The Posts

    @wildcat6 – only connection is mutual respect and that he is a frequent reader of LTP! I agree his countdown is the best in the business!

  • Mark

    I would like to see some interviews with coaches and the specific things they do and goals they set. For example, Hankwitz. Explain the different defenses he runs. How the defensive calls are made with specifics. Does he have goals for the defense in advance of a game, e.g., yards rushing allowed, yards passing allowed, avg. yards on 1st down (2nd down, 3rd down), points allowed, etc., etc. I understand some of this is “secret” but I also know that there are websites, books and coaching clinics on these subjects so I think the coaches could give us some interesting stuff w/o revealing secrets such as “we’re going to attack X’s left tackle with zone blitzes and play press coverage on X’s X receiver and zone on the rest of the field.” I would like to understand today’s game better, not just know the personalities. Hankwitz would be interesting as he played for Bo at Michigan.

  • Rossington

    LTP, it would be great to hear from some of the players from the ’60s and early ’70s when the Cats routinely played and frequently beat some of the top teams in the country. Everyone knows about Adamle and Telander but how about guys like Jack Rudney, Tom Myers, Paul Flatley, Maurie Daigneau, Jim Lash, Steve Craig, Chico Kurazwski (whose son is on the team now), and Chris Hinton?

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