Meet the Legend: BYCTOM
When you get someone like the venerable Northwestern blogBring Your Champions They’re Our Meat (for you youngins this name is in reference to an early era NU fight song) and you yourself are a blogger, you learn to quickly cut to the chase and be efficient with words getting in to what your readers really want.
LTP: You’ve become a legend in NU circles, yet you remain anonymous. Are you trying to dethrone the Dos Equis guy for Most Interesting Man In the World status? Give us some background on yourself. A world history major? Diehard football alum?
BYCTOM: I started Bring Your Champions, They’re Our Meat to fill a crucial niche in the sports blog market for news on Northwestern football combined with dubious historical information distilled from skimming Wikipedia. It also came out of the of the twenty-first century’s most inspiring muse: a lack of cable television. With no access to the Big Ten Network, I did what any normal enterprising Northwestern fan would do and began writing long and decreasingly coherent e-mails to friends about Northwestern football and the crucial significance of some hideous upcoming non-conference Wildcat game that probably garners lesser ratings than those shows where the beefy Scandinavian guys attempt to lift modes of transportation for our amusement in the hopes that a buddy with the BTN would let me come by and get angry about football in their home. BYCTOM really took shape, though, when I decided that I could a) call it Bring Your Champions, They’re Our Meat and b) eventually write a long-winded analysis of whether Orson Welles or Ernest Hemingway was indeed the twentieth century’s greatest bearded inebriate.
Unfortunately, as anyone who reads BYCTOM can instantly tell, I know very little about analyzing football, or sports in general, and therefore needed to comfortably fill my self-imposed quota of thousands of words by expounding on history, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and whether or not the New York Times correspondent on Somalian piracy had himself become a pirate. And I pretty quickly
found that by putting all of these things together, I spend an inordinate number of time talking about mustaches. One of my proudest moments writing BYCTOM was spending an exhausting 20 minutes of research to determine how long it took for there to be a non-mustachioed winner of the Tour de France (a solid decade).
Outside Bring Your Champions, They’re Our Meat, I review pith helmets and laudanum accessories for a prominent national cockfight magazine.
LTP: The frequency of posts is a point of frustration for many fans including myself. They are far too infrequent for most of us who just
can’t get enough. What will it take for us to get more frequent posts from you?
BYCTOM: I wish that I could say that there is a rational reason for the sporadic nature of BYCTOM posting other than me being busy and disorganized, but that’s about it. I’m pretty happy to stick with weekly updates (usually posted by Friday morning) during the season. I find it much more satisfying to post a gigantic mass of text once a week than to break it up into more readable smaller entries posted more frequently.
I also think it puts less pressure on me to react to the endless flow of sports stories that come up at any given time and instead take a longer view, by which I mean ignoring these things so I can more fully mock the portrait of an eighteenth century European aristocrat who pays for his privilege with the damage wrought by centuries of Habsburg inbreeding.
LTP: Give us some background on your NUness. How long you’ve been following NU, for example. Favorite games, players etc…Are you a season ticket holder? Displaced fan? Give us the scoop!
BYCTOM: I’ve been following NU since my student days during the Randy Walker era, where I am convinced that Northwestern’s football team has been among the most exciting sports teams to follow this century. Though there have been plenty of less than exciting games, it’s hard to remember the last time a Northwestern team has won a big game comfortably without it coming down three overtimes, a fortuitous missed field goal, and a victory right bomb. On the other hand, there have been innumerable
losses where Northwestern has been vulnerable to the cruel hands of fate. This is most visible in the almost incomprehensible string of improbably gut-wrenching bowl losses since the 2000 Alamo Bowl, but also in the way that games against opponents like Indiana or Minnesota have tended to go down to the final heart-pounding instant.
LTP: Obviously we’re in the heart of a tailspin right now. What’s your take on the state of NU at this point? Perhaps put it in BYCTOM
BYCTOM: This has been a disappointing season for Northwestern fans no doubt and as much as I’d like to
gratuitously compare the Wildcats’ struggles this year to the fortunes of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth in the 1790s or the pre-escape Count of Monte Cristo, I think the best place to find
perspective for 2011 is in the history of NU football itself. After all, with the exception of a run of
success in the 1930s, the history of Wildcat football has been that of a cleat stamping on a purple
helmet forever. Northwestern has been run over by teams without the benefit of the forward pass,
and then when it was invented it was used mainly to throw over hapless Northwestern defenses. The
Wildcats have lost in the era of the Kaiser, in the Old Deal, the New Deal, the Cold War, and, in the
late 1970s, the only thing inducing more malaise than the stagnant American economy was the state of
Northwestern football. But for the past decade and a half or so, we’ve seen a remarkable turnaround,
and fans have become accustomed to winning seasons and bowl trips to exotic locations that are for
some reason almost exclusively located in the state of Texas.
Even in this golden age of Northwestern football, there have been some bumpy seasons that looked
promising and sputtered. Northwestern has been extraordinarily successful pulling out narrow victories
and improbable comebacks, but sometimes there are seasons where the ‘Cats just can’t get that last stop
or recover that one fumble or prevent A.J. Jenkins from getting open long enough to prepare a stew
in the secondary or resist the temptation to launch a perhaps ill-advised Heisman campaign around an
injured standout quarterback while holding him out of the non-Conference schedule in a promotional
strategy first used by Carl Denham to market King Kong to ape-starved New York audiences. But
given the success of the team in recent years, even if the season ends in November instead of December
or January, they will still be a factor in the ridiculously named Legends Division as long as Pat
Fitzgerald has any say for the foreseeable future, so I don’t think it is time to succumb to doom and
gloom because of a single rough season following three consecutive bowl appearances.
LTP: You clearly have the ability to conjure up some 12th century badass to wreck havoc on opponents. What’s the BYCTOM solution for NU to turn the corner?
BYCTOM: It’s clear that the school and the fans need to pull out all of the stops to make Ryan Field as intimidating
for visiting teams as possible for the remaining home games. I like the murals of Pat Fitzgerald, but I
think the Fitz decorations can be taken further by installing several giant statues of him with fists that
automatically pump in the direction of the opponent’s sideline after every Wildcat score. I also think
that the visiting locker room should broadcast five hour Pat Fitzgerald victory speeches interrupted
constantly by stormy applause. But, most importantly, Northwestern must immediately install a garish,
all-purple basketball court.
LTP: What’s your outlook for 2012 and beyond for NU?
BYCTOM: I’m not one for prognostication, but anyone looking at the program rationally can see that it is obvious that:
-A local newspaper will make a terrible Adonis Smith-related pun headline. At least one Trevor
Siemian-related headline pun will not make it past that same paper’s copy desk.
-Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany will go mad with power after forcing through the Legends and
Leaders divisions that were universally disdained but now used by fans and the media with stone-faced
gravity. He will change his title from Commissioner to Undisputed Legendary Leader and announce he
is changing the division titles to the Jim and Delany divisions while wearing a cape. Northwestern will
compete to represent the Jim Division in the 2023 Big Ten Title Game Playoffs that will launch after
the conference expands to 48 teams.
-Pat Fizgerald and Bill Carmody will revolutionize their sports after agreeing to swap their rosters for
a season. The football team will build an unstoppable offense based on jump balls for lanky 6’9” guys
and the basketball team will dazzle opponents with personnel substitutions on every play and college
basketball’s first use of a kicking specialist. The former Yugoslavia will become a football recruiting
-Northwestern will win a bowl game.
LTP: I rest my case. Keep up the genius BYCTOM. We’ll be reading.