UPDATE: Chi Chi Ariguzo has been named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week! Congrats to Chi Chi! Here is the email cut-and-paste that Scott Chipman from the B1G office sent out:
B1G Defensive Player of the Week
Chi Chi Ariguzo, Northwestern
So., LB, Gahanna, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales
· Totaled a career-best 10 tackles and three tackles for loss in Northwestern’s 23-13 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday
· Recorded the first sack of his career for a seven-yard loss
· Helped limit the Vanderbilt offense to just 101 yards rushing
· Wins the first weekly award of his career
· Last Northwestern Defensive Player of the Week: Quentin Davie (Sept. 20, 2010)
As I tried to dry off in the car ride home after the game, I honed in to the WGN on ESPN postgame show. Ted Albrecht was giddy in the lockerroom and rolling through player interviews. Then Fitz came on. Albrecht, like most home team radio analysts did more gushing of stats and in statement form than actually ask our head coach a question. Fitz was more subdued than I remember him after most wins and clearly frustrated at the showing by the offense, but proud of the “D”, but tempering it by talking about how long we have to go. He inserted his now routine “we went 1-0 this week, we’ll enjoy it for another hour or so and then we wake up, flush it and we’re 0-0 again”. Albrecht, taking his cue, then inserted this line of statement in to his subsequent “interviews”. As corny as this is, I actually like that the team does it. I believe they actually believe it. I know Fitz does. And that’s great, it works for them.
For us? Forget that. We’re fans. We get to roll around in wins, cover ourselves silly with it. Smear it all over our bodies and seek out any one willing to say “what’s that giddiness you got going on and where can I get me some of that?”. This week has already launched in to a “Trevor Siemian should start” meme (when I think what most people mean is that Trevor Siemian should be getting the majority of the snaps). Trust me when I tell you that we’ll get to all of that. Today, we are going to bond over our fanatical way of thinking.
I tweeted this past weekend that the #1 game not involving NU that I was most intrigued by was Syracuse vs #2 USC. I asked those of you on Twitter for your game as well. I can tell you, the most buzzed about score during the ‘Cats-Vandy pregame tailgates was the ‘Cuse game. I had seen the first half and Ryan Nassib didn’t look to hot. USC will do that to you. However, the Syracuse “D” was playing with their hair on fire and repeatedly stuffing Trojan drives. A weather delay had the game on hiatus and then, Syracuse mounted another 3rd quarter rally and entered the 4th down just 21-16. I didn’t need any more. I felt invigorated going in to the game. Somehow, this validated all of our angst over a 1-point road win (true road win, mind you, USC) last week and gave me the mental ammo I needed to say, “let’s do this ‘Cats” as a sprinkling of Commodores’ fans entered the stadium with their thought bubbles of “we’re going to beat you because we played (the other) USC closely”. It’s the transitive property of college football and it is as irrelevant as anything, yet we cling to it.
I was reminded of this by a few people over the weekend as I received a simple text at the end of the ‘Cuse’s 3rd quarter. It read “Cats>Cuse>USC = Cats>USC?”. The question mark implied that Syracuse might beat USC, not that the equation was being challenged. I don’t really need to explain to this fan base what the transitive property is, but for my own simpleton edification it means if team “a” beats team “b” and team “b” beats team “c” then team “a” is better than team “c”. What the hell does this have to do with Boston College, you might ask? Well, whenever we play them it reminds me of how we as students took pride in having a transitive property national title in 1993 thanks to the Eagles. It’s a relatively brief story that I also think is appropriate for the Northwestern students returning to campus (great turnout, by the way as it was the largest student turnout I remember at Ryan Field by a student section when school was not in session) and give them some context for how lucky they are.
Turn back the clock to 1992. It’s September. I’m living in RI and a sophomore at NU, but since school hasn’t started yet, I’m able to go to the week two game (our opener was at Soldier Field against Notre Dame in Gary Barnett’s first game), Gary Barnett’s first road game. I’ve got several high school friends who are at BC and I turn it in to a weekend. I’m sitting there in the NU family section, which, at the time, was the ONLY group of traveling fans to road games. Most BC fans were nervous about us and I was convinced we’d win since we had just cracked out the black and purple unis on Notre Dame and although we lost, we looked great. Not so much. BC waxed us. 49-0. They never punted. Think about that. It was so bad as I was trapped with some friends’ parents who were sporting the large, round pins with their kid in uniform which clearly projected “this player is my son!” I wondered if some of them would try to sneak them in to their pockets. It was that bad. A year later, BC, was ranked #22 when they rolled in to Evanston. We had just played at Notre Dame and had given them a much closer than the score (27-12) game so fans were intrigued. A road game at Stanford was our next game. Now, quick context. For those of you who are students, some of you weren’t even born and others were in diapers. This is when Notre Dame was a relevant football program. They were viewed in those days like Alabama, LSU or Ohio State is today. BC was also a very, very good program then. Think Michigan State-like these past couple of years. So, BC coming in to town was a pretty big deal.
Gary Barnett had already banned students from tossing marshmallows. This was a signature tradition during the dark ages and you were taught as freshman how bad we were and to bring marshmallows to throw at fellow students and attempt to even land one in a tuba. Tailgates were in the east lot and the fraternities and sororities all had flags flying and owned one half of the east lot (south part) and were encouraged to bring kegs, since bottles and cans was not environmentally friendly. No joke, there would be about 3,000 students in this portion of the parking lot. There were no student tickets, just flash your wildcard and you could go in and out of the stadium as you pleased, until the 4th quarter. We may not have been good, but man, I challenge you to find a better student tailgate scene than that at that time. I was one of the few who would get inside in time for kickoff (shocker, right?). On this day, many did. Barnett had done miracles in turning around the culture. Expect Victory signs were on the field, marshmallows were banned and he had gone door to door on campus for two years relentlessly begging students to help his cause.
I don’t actually remember a whole lot about the game other than the fact it was close and we were quickly becoming Gary Barnett believers. We had Len Williams at QB, a dual-threat guy with a Tebow-like body and Lee Gissendanner, our version of Venric Mark – a crafty PR/WR who was a darkhorse Heisman candidate in our minds (he would win the Big Ten MVP award that year). The Eagles scored in the last minute to seemingly ice the game. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Eric Scott blitzed the BC coverage and nearly brought it all the way to the house. We punched it in and bedlam ensued. Alas, it would’ve been a Laking of the Posts game, but Barnett, had reinforced the FG posts with concrete to prevent this blog’s namesake from happening. He wanted us to act like we’d been there before. So, students were flinging off the FG posts and instead, I remember a raucous night on campus. We would go 0-8 in conference that year (2-9 overall). Not BC, though.
In November of 1993, #2 Notre Dame hosted #1 FSU in South Bend. It was one of those where-were-you-when kind of games as the eventual national champion Seminoles lost as Heisman trophy-winning QB Charlie Ward’s final pass was batted down. Boston College rolled in to South Bend the very next week. I had a ticket to this game to join said BC friends but turned it down as I had four papers due that Monday. Then, one of the top five alltime college football games I’ve ever seen broke out. There was Boston College in a wild shootout against Notre Dame. The Eagles won on a last second FG kick and I can remember hearing the roars from dorm rooms as it went through. The entire campus seemed to be watching NBC. I remember the guy’s last name was Gordon as the most popular T-shirt on the BC campus became “God is good….” (front) “….so was Gordon’s kick!” (back). Over fraternity lunches we would then go on to break down how we beat BC, BC beat Notre Dame, Notre Dame beat FSU and the ‘Noles went on and won a controversial national title (as transitive property theorists in South Bend were none too pleased).
This was one of the top two wins in my four years at Northwestern as a student. Freshmen are entering with as many wins under their belt (2) as we had that entire season. Northwestern is the only team, I believe, in the entire country that has won two games so far against teams from BCS conferences. We’ve got BC at home and we’re favorites by 5 ½ points. Old-timers like me go in to “this is the one we’ll give away as we always lose one we shouldn’t and we just won the one that we thought we might not!” Nonsense. Don’t succumb to our cynical ways. Embrace this. Love it. Expect Victory. Tailgate your butts off.
We’ve got three straight home games – Boston College, South Dakota and an Indiana team that just lost their “Venric Mark”, QB Tre Roberson, for the entire season. We then go on the road to play Penn State and Minnesota. Barring some unforeseen event, we’ll be favored in all five games. Dare to daydream. Stay positive. Look ahead. Speculate about going 7-0. You, and we, have no real impact on the final outcome other than the crowd noise we can create to make life difficult for opponents and/or energizing our team. Let Fitz and the fellas on the team go week to week flushing it and going “1-0 this week”. We’re fans. Take the liberty you have and use it. Be a fan. Be a Wildcat fan. Be a better version of a Wildcat fan.
The Grass Is Greener
I received a nice note from an NU student who had insights on to the home field playing surface. It was a freak occurrence based on several factors including the tarp being on Wednesday to protect the paint and a combo of rain and heat. I’m told the field will be looking as good as new this Saturday against BC.
LTP Purple Challenge – FINAL CALL
So, I’m waiting for the results to come in from this weekend. What an awesome party Northwestern threw Saturday night under the lights. I just love night games. It feels like SUCH a bigger event. I’m hopeful many of you were able to convert friends, family and co-workers you brought in to season ticket holders. I know reader LGIP was hosting a dozen potential newbies himself. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story. We’re just 15 away from our goal and I’m hoping today’s results will put us over the top.