Destination Jacksonville – Let’s Make Some Noise

Gator Bowl

The ‘Cats were back at practice on Tuesday preparing for Mississippi State. Based on reports from both WildcatReport.com and PurpleWildcats.com it was relatively uneventful.   Until the end. The ‘Cats staged their now annual 7-on-7 coaches vs coaches practice where guys ranging from DB coach Jerry Brown to WR coach Dennis Springer “suit up” and battle the players they coach every other day. Fitz told reporters he is “smarter than he looks” when asked why he didn’t participate. Obviously, the mood was light and thankfully no one was injured.

As we get within striking distance of bowl week, I was happy to see the coverage Teddy Greenstein reported on Monday. After five years, Fitz has really figured out a rhythm to preparing for bowl games and has turned this week in to a Chicago version of the bowl experience. With the semester complete, the players are living in a ghost town of a campus environment, so Fitz uses the practice-by-day, organized play by night strategy. Last night the team went to the Bulls-Celtics game (where one of you reported they were called out on the Jumbotron to barely any recognition by the NBA audience marking just another footnote that we’ve got a long way to go to truly become Chicago’s Big Ten Team) at the United Center. Another night they had on the town bowling. They’ll mix in community service with some blow-off-steam events.  When you consider how hard these guys bust their butts every day year-round, you’ve got to believe this time of year the “rewards” go a long way.

If you’ve ever heard Fitz in person talk about the bowl experience you’d think he’s on the payroll of the less important bowl committee. He talks about the off-the-field experiences, bonding and friendships that are deepened each bowl week when the above type events take place in what is now a different city per year. Last year, at the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, he listed a half a dozen events ranging from great steak dinners to a rodeo that he believes will be as memorable as any game the ‘Cats play.

You can just see how he’s got this recruiting thing down and why the players love him. Teddy’s article (I’d link to it, but I can’t as it is now a paywall since I’ve exhausted my five freebies this month) was great in terms of the perspective it provided. Fitz remembered his bowl prep days as being a grinder, especially for underclassmen.  Barnett provided insights on how he had to pull from other Big Ten coaches to get advice on just how to prep for bowls. Now, on his fifth rodeo as a bowl game coach, Fitz readily admits he looks back and wonders what he was thinking as he strongly believes he wore out his players during December. Now, speaking like a cross-country coach, he’s concentrating on peaking at just the right time – January 1 at 12pm et.

Fitz also spoke to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg earlier this week and I was excited to hear just how healthy we are – the healthiest we’ve been all year according to our coach. It’s definitely worth a view as perhaps his comfort factor with AR in a 1-on-1 setting lent to a more candid Coach Fitz. He was quick to point to the media as overblowing the impact of a bowl game – win or lose. Fitz also continues to seem more relaxed and less defensive with the media, something you’d expect from the second longest tenured coach in the B1G.

In the next two days, we’ll be talking directly to Adam Rittenberg and Teddy Greenstein directly about Fitz, the program and their take on the state of the ‘Cats and some big picture perspective on Fitz and this team.

Destination Jacksonville

OK, so I’ve got my two game tickets, my travel plans are locked and I’m ready to roll.  I’m actually taking a 2-day side trip with my wife to enjoy Savannah before rolling in to J-ville on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Between friends and readers many have wanted to try and connect in person and I’m going to work on a location and time to make that happen.

Meanwhile, a team of various age NU alums from the Jacksonville area have graciously raised their hands to help out with your trip to Jacksonville. We actually connected with Matt Herek, the Northwestern executive who is in charge of the ‘Cats bowl game experience for alums.  A New Year’s Eve party is setup for ‘Cats fans of all ages, and we’ll go in to detail on that in the coming days. If you’ve got questions, ask away! As you know by now, Jacksonville is widespread and fans are staying all over the place. We put a poll up to try and get a sense where pockets of folks will be staying, so we can offer up some unofficial gathering spots depending upon how far away you are.

Gator Bowl Watch Party Central

The folks who aren’t able to make it to Jacksonville are forming watch parties, which we will update on the LTP Bar Network.  Please email us at laketheposts@gmail.com with any specific updates or changes for the Gator Bowl watch parties. Here is the first of many updates:

Philadelphia

Mikey’s Sports Bar at 3180 Chestnut Street is the spot for Philly area Wildcat fans to convene on New Year’s Day. The NU Alumni Club of Philly is hosting and FREE food and drinks for alumni club members. Well drinks are $4, wine is $4 and they’ve got beer specials – $1 off per beer – all set up for you. If you’re not a member, you can sign up either here or in person on gameday.

Facebook sign-up here – https://www.facebook.com/events/418213074916554/

 

Tasker Taking Return Game To Task

NFL analyst Steve Tasker made a living and a legend as arguably the best special teams player of our generation. The Wildcat alum was a one man wrecking ball on kick coverage and his name has become synonymous with NFL special teams. That setup serves to underscore the strength of this New York Times article featuring Tasker and his desire to see the game remove kickoffs and punts entirely, in an effort to minimize injuries. It’s a bold statement and worth a read as the context of conversations on concussions and the true dangers of the game aren’t going away anytime soon.

The Cowbell Comeback

Last week we put a call to arms to create a fan comeback for Mississippi State’s ability to bring their sacred cowbells to the Gator Bowl.  I’ve read that the Bulldogs are getting close to selling out their allotment and have about 10,000 tickets sold to date. Northwestern doesn’t release their numbers, yet claims a 47% increase over last year’s ticket sales.  As I said last week, I’m willing to be the mouthpiece for this surefire PR hit, but someone needs to step up and underwrite an idea. Here are some that you submitted, along with my idea.

The Bellcow  – In the fight fire with fire category, why not bring our own cowbells and simply brand them different. The bells would of course be purple and sport a #5 in homage to our bellcow RB, Venric Mark.

The NUZoo – Andrew R. submitted his idea for the purple Wildcat kazoo. Andrew has a vision that ‘Cats fans would get plenty of TV time for the unique visual and that with a hefty showing, it could be brought back to Evanston. He’s even willing to underwrite the first 400 or so. You can get them with sponsor logo for about .$50 per unit and you can take a look here.

The Purple Vuvuzela – If we really want to create some noise, both in stadium and in social media, we can carry the torch of annoying folks with the Wildcat vuvuzela, made infamous by the most recent World Cup. This one is a tad more of a PR risk, but for certain will get a ton of coverage if we actually bring the 12,000 we are supposed to bring. Nathan Ritter submitted this shot to me via Twitter.

Who wants to underwrite 10,000 of these puppies?

  • mbm1999

    Sorry if this isn’t directly related to the post. But I’m looking for some advice for Cats fans who live overseas. I’m going to be in Georgia (the country, not the state) for the game and want to find a watch it online. Watch ESPN seems only to work in the US – I’m wondering if any of the far flung cats fans have any advice/ tricks to get the game on their iphone/pad . . .

    • Ahmed

      Search for live college streams online. I can’t post them here since they are illegal but unfortunately, they were the only way for me to watch the NU games when I was overseas. Not all games are available but I would assume that the bowl games would be. Basically, someone connects their computer to their cable box and broadcasts the game live using online broadcasting software.

    • rararawrgocats

      Beyond illegal streams (which generally do work but can be a hassle), you can also use a remote desktop connection to a computer in the US and then log into WatchESPN from that computer. That requires having a computer you can remote into, however.

      Additionally, Slingbox is an option if you know anyone who has a box they’ll let you log into.

      • KP

        If you can VPN into school or work, that will give you an American IP without the hassle of Remote Desktop-ing. I managed to get ESPN to work abroad with this method last Christmas. You still need to log into ESPN with valid credentials (but it seems like that’s not an obstacle for you) but live bowl games await!

    • Doug

      I don’t know whats specifically available in Georgia, but here are some thoughts. When I was in Australia, I had access to espn3.com because my partner’s family had a cable subscription (and the expensive sports tier in Aus has ESPN). I had to log in using their details. Perhaps someone you know in Georgia has pay-tv sports programming?

      If that doesn’t work, you can also sign up for BigTenTicket. Google it. Its basically BTN’s streaming service. Its available ONLY outside North America. Since the bowl is on ESPN, BigTenTicket will not carry it live, but they will have it after midnight US east coast time. So if you can stand to wait (and tell all your friends not to contact you about the game), then you can watch it that way. I don’t remember the price or duration of a subscription.

      If all those fail, the illegal streams are an option, and also streaming just the audio from wgnradio.com.

      Good luck. Its a hard life for us ‘Cats fans around the world!

      • mbm1999

        Thanks Doud (and rararawrgocats and Ahmed) – very helpful. Hopefully we’ll get it sorted out – we’ve got a couple Cats fans who will be watching in the Caucuses.

  • Stuff

    About kazoos, the idea was bandied around for a bit on the Wildcatreport forum. Some of points others have brought up are the World Record for Largest Kazoo Ensemble is 5,190 (easily beaten) and setting a new World Record for the 100th year of NU fight song would be a great way to celebrate.

    Is all publicity good publicity or would people mock NU for kazoos?

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      LOVE this…yes we’d get mocked, but who cares?

      • Stuff

        I would financially support the NU Fight Song 100th Year Kazoo World Record Fund. Haha. But I think would need someone official to support this like Band Director or someone. World Record attempts need official judges to be on site

        • David

          I am not for a Kazoo world record…It is to similar to Iowa setting the WR for largest Hoky Poky.

      • DT

        Ah, LTP… Let’s act like we have indeed “been here before”? At this point, I’d suggest the focus be on winning a damn bowl game first and foremost, and not worrying about Kazoo’s, Cowbells, or for that matter, flowery rhetoric– readily apparent in your recent writings related to lofty increases in 2013 home attendance predicated in large part on an outcome that has not taken place in 9 tries since 1995…
        Net/net, Miss. State has won bowl games and had cowbells for years… Let’s just win a game, eh?

        • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

          If I could control the on-field outcome I would…me concentrating any more on it isn’t going to do a lick of difference. I believe a bowl win would have minimal impact on attendance lift. I do believe a 10-win season would.

          • DT

            And blowing on a Kazoo as a comeback to a long standing tradition of the opponent ain’t gonna make a lick of difference either… I know we agree that victory #10 in The Gator Bowl is indeed, “Win-Win”… Huge stakes here on many levels for Northwestern, including future home attendance and national perception…

            .

          • Louis M

            Its just fun DT. Kazoos don’t diminish anything. They just add some extra Fun and memories.

          • DT

            Lou– Can’t the fans take a lead from our venerable Head Coach and intrepid AD, banning the monkey, that it is ok just to concentrate on football and not create a sideshow that makes our program look just that much more feckless with the strong possiblity NU loses this game? I don’t know about you, but I envision numerous friends of mine with different college football affinity suggesting to me– NU fans might want to do a giant circle jerk around the stadium for the next bowl game for instance with the combo of another loss and the spector a few thousand of you in Jax whiffing up the Kazoos or whatever..

          • Louis M

            Vuvuzelas….mmm not so much :)

          • DT

            Lou– Assuming you show up in your Springboks attire, I’d cut you some slack on that Vuvu… No such allowance for LTP clad in Purple with a kazoo inserted orally in knee jerk response to an American Football tradition of the Deep South..

        • Bjm

          This DT guy is the worst. Why even come to the board and read, much less post negative replies….unless you’re a hawk fan! Man you guys had a bad year! Good luck next year!

          • DT

            Enjoy you kazoo, Polyanna..

          • Bjm

            Are you in the camp calling for Ferentz’ head, or do you think he’ll turn it around? And what is up with your running backs? Which one of your RBs has the best shot next year?

          • DT

            Pollyanna, you are such a quick wit! If I did not know better, I’d think you were going to hit me with your purple purse–right after you take out your kazoo and blow real hard!!!

            I like Weisman at Running Back for Iowa BTW… Would love to have him as thunder to Mark’s lightning in the NU backfield next year… Quality player and kid…

          • bjm

            In all candor, I agree with you on the kazoos and would prefer fans to simply stand and make noise in whatever way they decide. I kind of like the vuvuzelas. What I don’t understand is your penchant for acting like the writer of his blog, who does all this for free, somehow owes you something, such that you routinely are rude when he shows optimism for our program.

            Hence, my conclusion that you are a hawk. Without further evidence, I cannot conclude otherwise.

            Also, I will be at the bowl game, so if you’d like to meet there you’ll see that I don’t carry a purple purse but will be open to most noisemaker suggestions I hear between now and the game.

            I’ll look for the guy in black and gold…

          • DT

            You had me thinking your shit was together for a few seconds until you mentioned the vuvus! What I don’t understand is why you feel compelled to make the points to me and not LTP who lights the fuse on this stuff? Tell him the kazoos are a half baked idea! Geez…

            If it makes you feel one bit better, please know the comments I make here to the writer of the blog, are a sanitized version by and large of what I would tell him in person, via phone or personal email, all of which I’ve utilized in some way shape or form talking NU Football not to mention more consequential aspects of life for the better part of 20 years…

            Finally, you keep looking for that guy in Black and Gold… I’ll be on the look out for a guy that looks and acts like Stewart Smalley… BTW, what color purse do you carry?

          • Bjm

            DT – If you are saying you’ve known and have been talking NU football with LTP for 20 years, then I do feel a bit better, actually. I’ll stand down.

            It does get to me that recruits and their parents who read this blog to learn about NU football have to constantly deal with your negativity. But I hope they understand that this speaks more about you than it does our program.

            Finally, the purse joke.. still going with that one? Save the insults to masculinity and the Internet tough guy stuff for when you square off with the hawk fans. Unless DT stands for your years as an NU defensive tackle…then you have free rein….

          • DT

            OK, no more stuff about the purse.. No internet tough guy stuff here, in that you are carrying that torch pretty well for us both on that level and taking control here.. That said, if bjm stands for say, Billie Jean, or maybe, Bobbie Joe, would that make it ok to ask about your purple purse? And nothing wrong, with being metrosexual and carrying the ManPurse… Think I saw an article on that in the new “Black Book” from Esquire… Just sayin’, if you did decide to carry, it would be cool.. No worries… Cutting edge of fashion and you could hit an Iowa fan with yours if need be…

            Finally, rest easy, in that I’ve been on LTP for three years now, and all I hear from The Koolaid Crowd is how recruiting continues to get better in that period of time… Frankly, if you are the altruisitc fan you claim to be, I think maybe a thank you might be in order for my obvious contribution to that successful effort?

          • bjm

            I could rest easy if I knew that each time, before you pressed post, you would consider whether you’re actually a marginal net negative to NU’s program, including to anyone that might want to become further associated as a fan, parent, supporter, or PLAYER.

          • DT

            BJ, with your approach, they all wind up at Iowa.. You get the last word given you initiated the first insult… Shame on you, purse or not..

          • SocalScott

            BJM – DT stands for Deep Throat; and he went to NU but has deep issues about it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/PlunkettDavid David Plunkett

      On New Year’s Day 2012, I helped set a world record for Largest Gathering of People Wearing Swim Caps. (No, really. It’s a thing.) I wouldn’t mind helping to set another one on New Year’s Day 2013 and being a dual record holder, though I’ll settle for a W from the ‘Cats!

  • CatInTheHat

    Anybody else disappointed by their seating location? [rant] I sprung for two “VIP” tickets, and when said tickets arrived yesterday, I was displeased to see that they are perpendicular to the back of the endzone and about 2/3 of the way up the first tier. For $80, I expected better. Then again, I guess I should have paid closer attention to the seating chart before purchasing my tickets. No way I was paying $125 for “Club” seats, though. The cost relative to the quality of the seats just seems excessive based on what we’ve paid in past years, and it’s really hard to compel friends and family to buy through NU when seats in my section are going for $10 on the secondary market. /rant
    …and yes, I would definitely bring a purple vuvuzela or kazoo into the stadium.

    • NU Cat ’95

      This is what I loathe about bowl games and the whole “YOU HAVE TO BUY THROUGH THE SCHOOL OR WE’LL NEVER WIND UP IN ANOTHER GOOD BOWL GAME AGAIN” stance preached by some folks. Because, well, that’s not really true. Yes, a team that doesn’t travel well can fall a spot. But, thanks to rules that a team with two fewer wins can’t leapfrog a team, there are safeguards in place to keep a 9-3 NU squad from winding up in Detroit.

      I spent some time this morning nosing around StubHub and found seats in the front row of the upper deck between the 40- and 50-yard line for $4. Even with all fees and shipping added in, the total came to $36 for three tickets ($12/ticket). I dare say that’s a much better viewing spot than sitting perpendicular to the back of the end zone for more than 6 times the price.

      Between jacked-up hotel room rates and expensive holiday-timeframe flights, bowl pricing is really ridiculous. If folks go their own way in buying seats on Stubhub (but show up and wear purple, of course), I’d have a hard time blaming them for that. If I were going to the game, I know that’s what I’d be doing.

      • CatInTheHat

        Yes–agree, agree, agree. Of course, any time you decide to attend a bowl, you know you’re going to be dropping some cash. BUT, between its disrespect for NU earlier in the season and the outrageous ticket prices, this is a case of a bowl that seems quite confused about its place in the pecking order. Of the four or five bowls that I have attended, I believe that this one is, by far, the most expensive across the board–tickets, team hotel (which priced me clean out of the market, and so I am staying seven miles away), etc. The fact that the secondary market can only demand 10-15% of face value should tell these bowl organizers something. The Texas Bowl asked $75 for club seats on the 50-yard line, and for the Outback, I actually paid $40 for tickets in a location quite similar to where I will be sitting in Jacksonville. I just don’t know how the Gator Bowl can justify this. Then again, for all of this complaining, I still purchased the product, so I guess that answers the question.

    • SJ Wildcat

      The bowl experience is not for those afraid to drop some coin. While I acknowledge the inflated price that is paid to purchase tickets through the university, I find the benefits of sitting with fellow Cat fans outweigh the increased cost. As a fan, you have to be prepared to spend some of that money that your NU degree has allowed you to earn. That said, we did not book our hotel through the university or the Gator Bowl in order to save some money on the overall cost of the trip. Go Cats!

  • gocatsteve

    LTP… Very interested on a New Year’s Eve get-together for all ages. (My wife and I are going with our four kids.) Also, you mentioned a poll to find out where everyone is staying, but I couldn’t find it on the site. We’re staying in the Baymeadows area, about 10 miles south of downtown, where a lot of hotels are located. Lastly, are we storming the field after the victory??? Let’s organize that as well…

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      OOPS. Meant to say “all ages 21+”. The NU event will be at a very nice watering hole, TBD, but is not just for the young alums. Very much intended to bring together fans from age 21 to 90 in one place to party. Sorry for misleading.

      • gocatsteve

        Okay (I’ll leave the wife and kids in the room), but what about the poll to determine where everyone is staying?

        • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

          It is up on the right sidebar…

    • SJ Wildcat

      We will also be staying in the Baymeadows area for the week and looking forward to an excellent NGN Tailgate before and after the game. For those who follow this board who are not members of the Northwestern Gridiron Network, it is time to get on the bus and support Wildcat Football all year long. As for New Years Eve, it would be nice to have an area for families with kids below 21. If nothing is organized, I am sure we will find a way to adapt. Go Cats!

      • gocatsteve

        I read somewhere on the Gator Bowl web site that Jacksonville Landing will have vendors, etc., starting at 7 pm with fireworks to follow (I presume at midnight). The NU Pep Rally is there at 5 pm, so we might just hang out there.

  • Mike

    Please no on the vuvuzelas. For the love of all things wildcat. Keep in mind that if you did this, it may lead to starting something that fans will try to continue at future games.

    The only time I have ever not minded those things was at hockey games back before that works cup when only one or two people in a whole arena had them and only blew them during a lull in play.

    How about this idea… NU uses this opportunity to directly encourage people to get up and loud when we are on D?

    • DT

      Mike – Thanks for a bit of sanity here… Really, what a truly dynamic experience it would be to have say, 75% of the NU fans in a stadium, ANY stadium, stand up on 3rd down and create some noise by say, clapping their hands and yelling… What a concept! Easier to blow a kazoo I guess?

    • Sir Mark

      We used to have vuvuzelas at Dyche Stadium in the early 60′s. They were called stadium horns then.

  • cece

    some smart JAX area alum, take the decision of this board, get a permit, sell purple noisemakers near the NU and NGN tailgate. kazoo, cowbell, clappers, whatever, if it is purple, and it makes noise, sell it, buy it, use it. Go ‘Cats!

  • Tim

    The idea of setting a Guiness world record for kazoo ensemble is simultaneously sad and awesome, basically because we’re the only nerdy enough fan base to come up with something that funny.

    But unless you are South African and have an actual cultural reason for playing a vuvuzela at a sporting event, I’m against that idea (it did bug me when people had a problem with people expressing their own tradition in their own country during that World Cup though).

    And I think cowbells would be the worst idea possible. Adding MORE clanging isn’t going to negate MSU’s crowd noise just because your cowbell is painted purple.

    • NUMBalumDave

      If we want to talk ‘nerd’ and ‘negate sound’, why don’t we get a large noise cancelling system to hush the MSU crowd’s cowbells? It does not get any nerdier than that.

  • hongkongcat

    Kazoo’s a are basically like a small “muffler” – like a mute on a trumpet. They create a unique sound, but the result is less noisy than a persons natural voice. I don’t think we should be doing anything that cuts our ‘decibel level’!!

    • NUMBalumDave

      Second this. Kazoos would be funny (hysterical, IMO), but not noisy, really.

  • http://twitter.com/hairbykevin kevin hazzard

    I have 2 tickets to the GATOR BOWL!!!! Front row behind the players!!!! And VIP to the tailgate party!!! All you can drink beer and wine and BBQ!!! http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=121041470400

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Minnesota1000
Purdue1000
Iowa1000
Nebraska1000
Illinois1000
Northwestern0100
Wisconsin0100

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Rutgers1000
Penn State1000
Michigan1000
Michigan State1000
Ohio State1000
Indiana1000
Maryland1000