Tribune’s Haugh Captures Carmody Sentiment

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.

  • Bluestone Baller!

    Perhaps Haugh could sit down with Sir Bill Carmody and do the soft investigative interview a la “Piers Morgan – style” …after all he is a Medill product with a bit of stern eloquence to him; however, as i reflect while eating my Lobster Benedict at Bluestone’s fine English Family pub style Brunch, Bill would be afraid of his direct productive ?’s.
    At some point in time someone needs to focus on the cloak and dagger mantra and find the answer.
    Haugh is the first step in the direction of a NU product that has a “sak” while others do not!
    This is “concrete” to this reason why I respect Fitz – he Expects Victory! He wants to win! That Simple! He may need a little more seasoning and a better defensive head but the dude wants to bash heads fairly and win!
    Carmody wants a Martini stirred not shaken!

  • Heylucas

    May the best bracket win.

  • VaCat

    This is all bunk….
    At the end of the day, you’re defined by your actions. While I admire NU for adhering to its core values, at the end of the day we still continually fall short and fail to address those things that will take us to the next level.
    Say what you will, but the NU administration and AD “took a pass” on this one and didn’t make the tough call. This was the easy call. And no one is convinced it will take us to the next level except for Mr Phillips saying “Bill has assured me that we’re going to get better”.

    LOL !!!!!!!!!!

    Again no money from me for facilities…


    I think most of us can agree that Carmody does the right things OFF the court in terms of our players.

    But what is to say that a NEW coach would not hold the same ideals that Carmody has, while at the same time bringing in good players and making great in game adjustments?


    I completely agree with the Haugh article.


    Phillips did not mention the fact that Carmody has not had his team prepared for key situations and sometimes even the games. NU has had rebounding problems every damn year and we never see any improvement. I think Phillips defending one part of Carmody’s coaching as admirable, but what is to say we couldn’t find a similar coach that can actually coach our team to box out?

    Carmody receives an A for off the court work not related to BBALL.

    Carmody receives a C or worse for on the court work and recruiting problems(ok that might be facilities/admissions), and not being prepared for big games.

  • calmer than you are

    The Haugh piece is awful. Full of aphoristic fluff and regurgitated Common Knowledge.

    There is absolutely nothing that Bill Carmody provides that maintains the “Northwestern Way” that, for example, Chris Collins couldn’t. Except for topping out at lower-level on-court mediocrity.

  • ABC

    I think Haugh’s article is absurd. Can’t we retain our lofty standards and hire a new coach that can bring more energy, better recruiting and bball fundamentals (like boxing out and rebounding) to our program? Bottom line is that Carmody has had 12 years to remake our basketball program and while he has made some progress, 4 NIT appearances is not enough. Phillips had a tough decision to make and he blew it. Don’t bother asking me for money for new facilities. We don’t need new facilities to continue “winning the Northwestern way”, Carmody’s been doing it for years in WRA.

  • skepticat

    Nice column; uncommon thoughtfulness from a sports commentator/analyst. Certainly a far cry from the porridge-esque gloop that issues from Rosenbloom’s brain.

    “Accepting mediocrity” is a false dichotomy to “win at all costs” (or its disingenuous complement, “let’s just lower our standards a little”); I reject both. That doesn’t mean Carmody’s the one to get the job done, but the progress of the last 4 years compared to the first 8 indicate _something_ has (hopefully) changed, and until it’s clear that he’s peaked, or that these 4 years are actually a fluke, I think he deserves our support.

    All-in-all, really a “no duh” outcome given the history and priorities of this administration. I said as much beforehand.

    BTW, how’s that search for a new coach going over at that downstate rival of ours?

  • Bucko

    @LTP – I take offense to your shot at those of us in the purple seats. Last year was my 29th season in those seats. Those are all 29 seasons since the last facilities upgrade that improved McGaw to merely crummy restrooms and concessions instead of the previously terrible ones. If I’m not mistaken, you were still in grammar school 29 years ago! By the time you started at NU, my sons, who attended Sailgate with me, had attended 100’s of NU fotball and basketball games. Our section used to cheer and scream like lunatics but we have gone from a group of people in their 30’s and 40’s to their 60’s and 70’s!! We continue to support our beloved Wildcats despite only one .500 conference record since my freshman year. Most of us also have football season tickets.

    Please think before you make such generalizations in the future!