What’s Under The LTP Tree? Merry Christmas Everybody….

Merry Christmas everybody! What better day than today to spread some holiday cheer of the purple Wildcat variety? Let’s take a look at some gifts under the LTP tree….


A Free Gator Bowl Ticket

One LTP reader, Zachary Benjamin, has a deal of a lifetime for you – a FREE Gator Bowl ticket in section 142. There is only one catch – you get to sit next to him, but considering the fact you are reading this it is a very good thing as it means you’re probably just like him in his diehardness. First one to respond wins – zbenjamin18@yahoo.com .

Dinner With Friends – Gator Bowl New Year’s Eve Style

Wildcat diehard, Jerry Epstein has graciously organized a Wildcat New Year’s Eve feast in Jacksonville’s Little Italy (central Jacksonville) at Maggiano’s Restaurant.This will be a sit-down dinner, family style. The bar will open at 6, dinner will be served at 7:30, and he will have a private room until 10 pm et.

The cost is $50  CASH (no credit cards) per adult or large child. This cost includes two  salads – Caesar and Italian tossed, a four-cheese ravioli in pesto Alfredo sauce, three entrees – chicken marsala, salmon in lemon and herbs, oven roasted pork loin with balsamic cream sauce,  coffee, tea or soft drink, freshly baked bread,  and two desserts – spumoni and tiramisu,  tax and gratuity.

There will be a children’s menu with several choices for the little folks for $10. There will be a cash bar serving adult beverages, and they have a full liquor license.  This is served family style. Large platters of each course are brought to the table,  help yourself, all you can eat. You do not select one entree or one salad,etc.
Also, Jerry needs a little better headcount than usual. Please try not to wait until the last minute to rsvp as he may need to cut off reservations a couple of days before the party.  Please do not rsvp until you are sure you will be attending. I need to minimize the number of no-shows, hopefully there wiill be none. RSVP at frogking@bellsouth.net


There were so many things that occurred this past year that gave me great joy as a fan, I’m certain to forget many. But, let’s at least try.

The 2012 Season

The gift of perspective awaited me this morning as I realized we are 9-3 and heading in to our New Year’s Day Gator Bowl game against Mississippi State with a legit shot to get 10 wins for just the third time in program history and end that nasty nine game bowl losing streak. A 10-win, program course correcting season was so far off the wish list in August that I’m truly still agape.

The Colter/Mark Combo  – It’s usually near impossible to get big picture perspective in the moment when you’re watching players who you know will someday become the talk of Wildcat lore. Well, such is the case with the dynamic duo of QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark. Watching the two lightning bug tough guys battle all season long and mix up the slight of hand zone option read along with pure gamebreaking athletic moves was simply incredible. It’s safe to say, with the possible exception of Richard Buchannan, we’ve not seen the likes of these two speedster gamers in our history, and certainly not on the field at the same time.

A Renewed Sense Of The Bar  – Just when you thought aspirations of a BCS game were sliding out of the program reach, a season like this comes along to setup a year like 2013 when we return so many players and the bar will be extremely high. Yes, we add Ohio State to the schedule and yes we go to Camp Randall and Lincoln and yes, we never seem to have a good season when we truly have high expectations, but the central players on this team seem to be different. They play at a different level. They question authority. They possess that “it” factor, the swagger, that we’ve longed for. Man, I can’t wait to see what happens in 2013 and that gift of realistic high hopes is quite a huge one to carry us all off-season.

Morty & Jim’s Commitment  – After lagging light years behind our B1G competition, Northwestern unveiled plans for a breathtaking on-campus facilities master plan that will be financed by donations to the tune of $225 Million and likely have an instant impact on recruiting, particularly for football. President Morty Schapiro and AD/VP of Athletics & Recreation continued to put action behind their words of integrating the athlete-rich plan with use by all students on their trek to truly integrate the student and athlete undergrad experience. The announcement alone has invigorated recruiting and has a buzz on campus and beyond that hasn’t been there in the past. We are truly blessed to have a school president who “gets it” in every aspect of the role of Northwestern Athletics and he’s worked tirelessly to imbue the student and alumni mindset with the purple passion.

Unlikely Friendships – I’ve grown to “know” many of you through email and social media correspondence. You are far flung alums with tips, advice, questions and concerns, all of which combine to energize me to keep on keepin’ on with this blog. Additionally, those of you in the media – Teddy, Adam Rittenberg, Revsine, Rovell, Myerberg, Brennan – and the host of others  – including Mr. & Mrs. Ryan – I’ve come to build relationships with that I never otherwise would have, thanks for all of your support!

A Revamped LTP – Thanks to your incredible financial support and the help of LTP webmaster Brian DeConinck, we’ll be unrolling an entire new site in 2013 with all kinds of bells and whistles to enhance the daily experience and supercharge the best damn college sports community in the land. I’m giddy about it.


There are several hypothetical gifts I come bearing on this Christmas Day. Here are a select few:

The Gift Of Go For It – The happiest series of the season for me personally was Trevor Siemian coming in and getting the greenlight to toss the ball around at Michigan State in the final two minutes. It marked a dramatic philosophical departure from so many games of Christmas past where we went in to the stall ball, ultra-conservative approach and usually gave momentum and many times the game, away. Siemian stunned Mark Dantonio and 75,000 green clad Spartans’ fans as we passed our way to a first down and nearly ran out the clock. I will advocate for this type of mentality every single game for now through eternity, even if it means we lose along the way.

The Best Dance Day Ever – It won’t happen this season, but to all of you/us who are Northwestern basketball fans, there is only one gift on the list and it’s been the same since the late 1930s – a trip to the Big Dance. The team has been hit by a Voodoo doll’s worth of injuries this season and doesn’t really stand a legit chance of breaking through in 2013, but with Crawford likely back and the ‘Cats bigs sure to develop, along with the return of JerShon Cobb and the incoming pair of true blue chip recruits, NU will be poised to do just that in 2013-2014. It’s unclear whether Bill Carmody will get that shot or not, but whoever is leading that team may very well give us the best sports gift since the Rose Bowl.  I’d say we’ve earned it.

A Budzien Finish – Jeff Budzien has been nothing short of remarkable in 2012. Here’s to the Lou Groza snubbed placekicker finishing the season with a game-winning FG to win the Gator Bowl.

Fitz’s 50th – We’ve seen him grow up as a player, then a coach, and as a man. It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, but no one can deny Fitz’s role as a molder of young men while adding his likeness and association to NU as one of the school’s biggest ambassadors. I can’t tell you how many airports I’ve been in where randoms have started conversations with me about NU because of my hat or the like and the first thing they say his “you’ve got a great coach in that Fitzgerald” or the like. Northwestern fans often overlook the pretty high bars he’s overcome – 12th best facilities (until now) in the B1G, significantly undersold home games, no academic exceptions for 4-star or 5-star recruits – and how he’s turned them in to recruiting benefits. Fitz’s next win will put him atop the alltime wins list at NU (as if you didn’t know) which with such a small number is not really that impressive from a program standpoint, but it will mean we’ve ended the drought and that storyline seems just too perfect and tidy to NOT happen.

Thank you to YOU for your daily support and readership. I still can’t believe so many of you spend your days here as it has been fun to celebrate, commiserate and share so many moments together. To DT, here’s hoping a bowl win will actually bring a smile to your face. To PRR, may the ‘Cats hoops program finally break through and even send Drew Crawford to the Magic in two years. To Willie W. for your daily links ensuring nothing gets past me! And last, but not least, to my wife, may you get your wings already for putting up with me and my devotion to NU. I am so thankful to you and so is everyone in the community. The saint herself has agreed to join me in Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl and has even drawn the curiosity of president Schapiro who has told me “I have to meet a woman crazy enough to marry you!”.  Merry Christmas to all and to all an LTP Bowl Mania win…

  • FloridAlum

    Thanks for the party plug, LTP. It is greatly appreciated. We have about 80 adults and half a dozen little folks signed up so far. I expect them all to show up hungry, thirsty and wearing purple. I will have to cut off reservations the end of this week, like Friday or Saturday. Go Cats!

    • Louis M

      My family and I have been very blessed this year with the important things of life.

      Still the gift of your Blog is special as well. And it brought a smile to my face this morning, and underscored how the nice little daily things in life do also matter. Your passion and commitment (I don’t know how you do it) has added much to my enjoyment of all things Wildcat.

      Thank you, and a very Merry Christmas! To you and your family.

    • Louis M

      Sorry, looks like I’m still posting challenged. I meant to address the above post to LTP.
      But a Merry Christmas! to you too FloridAlum.

  • DT

    Mahalo and Merry Christmas to you, LTP… May we both be of continued good cheer in the aftermath The Gator Bowl… In the words of Coach Tiny Tim Cratchit; “Just win baby”! :-)

    Go Cats-


  • Mark

    I do think the 2011 team would have achieved their and our expectations if Dan Persa had been 100%. I think his performance from the first game on in 2010 was one of the great college football stories of 2010. Fortunately, the 2012 Cats were also one of the great stories – a top notch academic university that graduates its players with very few off the field issues and is in every game against Big Ten opponents.

    Happy Holidays and Go Cats!

    • cebpd

      NO off the field issues.

  • Palo Alto Cat – Kathy Davis

    Merry Christmas from Palo Alto LTP. I was wondering if I’d get my LTP “fix” on Christmas morning, and you delivered big time. Thank you for all you do to keep us Wildcat fans from going hungry. We’ve (my husband and I) have gone to all NU’s bowl games since the Rose Bowl (except Motor City) and this year is no exception. We leave for Jacksonville on the 29th to cheer on the Cats in the Gator Bowl. We feel in our bones that THIS bowl game against Miss. State will end in a victory for NU. Go Cats!

  • CM

    LTP, the fact that I am reading the site amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas Day shows me how much this website and your work mean to me. This website, your tremendous contribution to NU, is a gift to many of us. Although it wasn’t wrapped in a box under the tree today, it is a gift just the same. Thank you so much for all that you do. Merry Christmas!

  • CatInTheHat

    MANY thanks for all that you do for the Northwestern community, LTP! Here’s wishing you a very happy and healthy (and hopefully surgery-free) 2013, and the same to your family, as well! Happy holidays and GO ‘CATS!

  • Wildcat86

    Thanks for everything you do, LTP. I hope you know how much it is truly appreciated by NU fans far and wide!