Well done, David Haugh. That golf clap that you hear from me is a one-man standing ovation (kind of like the NU hoops fans in the plush purple seats) for this column you wrote for today’s Chicago Tribune. I’ve been writing for several weeks on the state of NU basketball and why I advocated for change in Evanston. However, I think Haugh was able to much more eloquently summarize exactly how I felt about the situation. He tugs at the much bigger question of Northwestern as it relates to major college athletics when he poses the question of whether a school can thrive by adhering to the bigger picture life lesson values of sport. Haugh advocated for change in similar fashion to what I had stated, not for doing anything wrong, but for not doing more right.
Take a few minutes and read the feature and see if it strikes a chord or head nod with you, the same way it did with me. We talked about this frequently in the scandalous football season when both Ohio State and Penn State suffered significant fallout for two very separate scandals. Has a tipping point occurred in collegiate athletics that will favor Northwestern? Specifically, the more stringent the rules get, the better off we are because we’ve got self-induced “challenges” based on hugging what Haugh deems “quixotic” intentions and values. I for one am not for relaxing standards in Evanston, however, no one has really ever cracked the case of what that means relative to our competitive set (Stanford, Notre Dame, Duke, Vanderbilt). What are the academic requirement thresholds for Northwestern basketball and football players? It appears to be lower than the average non-athlete applicant, as I was told that because of the record-setting number of applicants, you needed to have a 4.0 GPA just to be considered for admission this year since they literally had so many thousands that had that as a starting point. Is it that Northwestern athletes, while potentially not exactly the same as the regular applicant pool are that much higher than athletes at the competitive set schools? We might never know. Just like I did above, it continues to be speculation and the basis for a circular debate that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.
It’s an admirable mission to try and achieve athletic success without compromise. Haugh nails this much better than I have as it relates to understanding the perception of why half the fan base sees it as accepting mediocrity. I do love how Jim Phillips always manages to slip in a line like “we’re far from perfect” as he understands that humility must accompany any lofty goals of doing things the “right” way as not to trigger the elitist perception that comes with being a school like Northwestern, fair or unfair as it is.
I’m curious to get your reaction to Haugh’s column. Let’s hear it.
The Other NU Hoops Head Coaching News, AKA UNL
While Wildcat Nation has received its answer on Bill Carmody, the “other NU”, Nebraska actually quietly filled its head coaching vacancy with Colorado State’s Tim Miles. Miles is a mid-major turnaround specialist and took a 7-win Rams team and turned them in to a winning program in two seasons and left after getting 20 wins this past year. I thought it was really interesting to see Tom Osborne publicly acknowledge the type of coach they could get as he said a Final Four level coach isn’t going to come to Nebraska, they need someone who has the passion to build a program. Wildcat fans take solace, we have a fellow member of the hoops drought empathy committee. I had no idea Nebraska has never won an NCAA Tournament game and they’ve only made the Big Dance six times. Plus, their last conference championship was in 1950. We all know they’re known for football, but man, those are numbers that we can relate to. Also of note is the inclusion of how important facilities are to show the program’s commitment to the sport. Miles mentioned it in his press conference and acknowledged it takes more than “brick and mortar”, but it does help. The Huskers are opening a gorgeous 16,000-seat arena in downtown Lincoln in 2013. You can click here to read the ESPN article.
“HeyLucas” and “Carmody Who?” lead the ESPN LTP Tournament Challenge with 780 points. Our group, Lake The Brackets, has 106 entries and yours truly is number six overall wth 750 points and 800 remaining. It really looks like after today, there is a good shot it will be a two dog race between LTP and HeyLucas as everyone else between us has few points remaining and their national champion already gone. My Final Four is Ohio State, Kentucky, North Carolina and Missouri. Thanfully Louisville and Florida essentially nixed out everyone’s bracket in the west. “PairofCats88″ and a slew of folks tied in 9th place are lurking, however, as they have 720 points, but they also have Ohio State or UNC as their national champion. It should be fun to continue to track this.