Earlier today PRR went in to detail about the “big news” tonight to officially be announced at the Northwestern Wildcats pep rally at 5 pm ct. Northwestern president, Morty Schapiro, along with VP of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips, will let a throng of purple know that thanks to super boosters, Pat & Shirley Ryan and several other families, the ‘Cats have secured $55 Million in funding for the $225 Million lakefront facility. The complex will be named Ryan Fieldhouse and the interior football field will be named Wilson Field in honor of Stephen & Susan Wilson.
The timing of this announcement, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein, is obviously very intentional. The spin is the ‘Cats are many months ahead of their projections and are using the potential bowl game as a springboard to attract other Wildcat fans interested in stepping up with financial commitments. At most universities, this is called “development”, which is a fan cy name for fundraising and the ‘Cats have broken the mold by going against a very familiar playbook. In most campaigns, you wait until you secure 50% of the funding to go public so that the “campaign” has momentum and you can leverage the “quiet period” to make fans and alums capable of six and seven-figure checks feel part of something super secret and special. It’s a time tested psychological move and going against this is pretty rare. Well, so is a New Year’s Day bowl win and a 10-win season. Call it a calculated risk, but in reality it is a low risk move. Should the ‘Cats win, NU can capitalize on the momentum with the “imagine what we can do talent-wise once we have the facilities in place and YOU can help get us there” approach. Should the ‘Cats lose you can use the same logic, although candidly it is a bit of a buzzkill. Personally, I think it’s a smart move. Outside of the LTP diehards, by the end of this week, thoughts of Northwestern football get shelved by the casual fan until spring football and that might even be kind.
We’ll have more on this in January when we connect with some Wildcat development execs. Should any of you be interested in stepping up to the plate, I’m happy to make the introductions to the appropriate people at NU. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Gameday Preview Coming Up This Evening!
Both LTP and PRR are en route to Jacksonville and I look forward to meeting many of you. I’ll be staying at the Hyatt Regency and hope to connect in person with you. I’ll be posting in the comments section on time and place so stay tuned. I will be at the NU official tailgate pregame as well. With the purple converging (it was awesome to see a flood of purple in the Charlotte airport yesterday) on J-ville, I’m going to post the official gameday preview sometime tonight. We’ll also have an open thread during the game, but cut us some slack on the postgame recap as we’ll be at the game!
LTP ESPN Bowl Mania!
Apologies for the delay on updating the chase for Gary Barnett’s game-worn 1996 Northwestern jacket in our LTP ESPN Bowl Mania pool. It’s pretty safe to say I am no longer competition as I got crushed on Saturday going just 2-for-5 in my picks (Arizona State, Michigan State). The Syracuse Orange made our season-opening win look a bit better after they pasted West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. Sparty mustered a comeback over TCU one night after Minnesota blew a prime opportunity to knock off Texas Tech. One of the more interesting wins was Rice shellacking Air Force as we’ve seen firsthand how low that program in Houston has been. The year of the academic minded schools continues and we want teams like Duke and Rice to stay down, but the Owls clearly looked like they had won a BCS game. But let’s get on to you -especially with a slew of games today, including Wildcat victim Vanderbilt.
The leaderboard is owned by “FireCarmody” who is competing for one of the best scores in the entire country. He/she has 378 points with 136 PPR and owns a commanding lead over JuggleItUp who has an impressive 278 points but also only has 136 PPR. JimmyNeedsAWin has 269 points, but is very much alive with 280 PPR. Scuzz Model is two behind in fourth and rounding out the fifth is bwkNU92 with 257 points, but only 184 PPR. But, how about FireCarmody, who went 4-for-5 on Saturday (losing only the Arizona State game) and is now 23rd in the ENTIRE ESPN POOL! Good God. For those interested, the national leader has 426 points and has lost only three games.
Today’s slate features Vandy/NC State at noon et on ESPN, and the Commodores are favored by 7. USC and Georgia Tech square off in the Sun Bowl at 2pm et on CBS followed by Iowa State/Tulsa on ESPN at 3:30 pm et in the Liberty Bowl. Capping off New Year’s Eve will be LSU and Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at 7:30 pm et on ESPN.
The ‘Cats open B1G play after a huge layoff on Thursday against #2 Michigan at Welsh-Ryan Arena. They may be catching a lucky break as Michigan’s leading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 ppg) may not play due to a sprained ankle. He is wearing a soft boot and missed his first career game the other day in a Wolverines win over Central Michigan. You never root for folks to be injured, but the ‘Cats are due for a break based on the ridiculous amount of adversity they’ve had to date.
New Year’s Eve Jacksonville Style
As we reported with Northwestern University’s Matthew Herek last week, Northwestern is hosting what they are calling “The Wildcat New Year’s Eve Blitz”. It is being held at the River City Brewing Company (directly across the river from the Hyatt). The event runs from 9pm-1am and admission includes beer and wine during that time. There will be a champagne toast at midnight. The venue also has a great view of the fireworks display that happens as part of Jacksonville’s New Year Celebration. It’s $40 and you can pay at the door or you can also sign up online here at alumni.northwestern.edu/nyeblitz .