‘Tis the season. I just love reading about early entry candidates from various Northwestern opponents. It is just one more data point that gives me a bit more bounce when we face those competitors in the coming season, knowing they’ll be without their top returning player(s).
Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell became the third Spartans standout in a week to say good-bye to East Lansing. Bell reportedly informed Mark Dantonion on Wednesday night and will join B1G bad boy, DE William Gholston, and TE Dion Sims to leave after their junior years for greener (sorry, couldn’t resist) pastures of the NFL. Bell was the nation’s third leading rusher with 1,793 yards on a brutal workload of 382 carries as he literally carried the Spartans all year long. Meanwhile, match-up nightmare Dion Sims, the 6-7 stellar receiver is also bolting for the big leagues. William Gholston was a one-man offensive coordinator’s nightmare as he simple created all kinds of chaos in the backfield. This is fantastic news for Wildcat fans as the heart and soul of the Spartans offense, along with their best defensive player, all of whom could’ve technically returned for the November 23 senior day clash, are now putting pressure on younger Spartans to emerge to pick up the slack.
In other B1G news, Penn State head coach, Bill O’Brien, one of the more decorated coach of the year recipients, has decided to spurn the NFL and stay at Penn State claiming that the kids committed to him to stay and that he can’t in turn leave them. It’s great to actually see a modicum of loyalty still around and had he left it would’ve felt downright icky, don’t you think?
LTP BOWL MANIA
We’re getting down to the final points in the LTP ESPN.com Bowl Mania contest. There are huge stakes on the line this year – the right to host the LTP Bowl Mania Trophy for a year – a 1996 Gary Barnett game-worn NU jacket. Don’t call it a comeback, but I’m not quite out of it yet. I’ve had a resurgence starting on New Year’s Day, as I left all of my high number point games for now. Thanks to Oregon last night, I moved up to 344 total points with a whopping 130 still left, which means I technically can catch FireCarmody, the current leader, who has 454 points, but just 10 PPR. It should be noted that FireCarmody picked AGAINST Northwestern (shame on you!) so rooting interest in him is suspect at best at this point based on that fact. In second place is Dan Baren with 443 with 43 PPR and in third is THEREAL Purple Wildcats with 429 points and 67 PPR. However, keep an eye on the fourth place Bruce 27505 who has 426 points but 89 PPR. For that matter, there are a TON of people still in contention. Heck, I’m in 103rd place in the LTP pool and still alive. Just look at 29th place “Wilcox” who has 395 points, but 104 PPR. You go up and down the list and there are quite a few of you in the high 300s with nearly 100 PPR left. I’ve got Texas A&M tonight, Ole Miss tomorrow and my biggest point total of all is on Kent State. You really don’t have to guess who I have in the national title game.
Heart Warming Angle On Win #50
You might remember that on Christmas Day that reader Zach Benjamin put up a free ticket to any Wildcat fan with one catch – they had to sit with him. Well, Mary Szymkowksi, took him up on that offer and could not have been more grateful. It turns out Mary really wanted to go, but it just didn’t make economic sense based on committing to some remodeling at her Wildcat friendly house. Well, this freebie was the nudge she needed and get this, it was within days of her 50th birthday. That’s right, Mary celebrated her 50th birthday watching Fitz earn his 50th win and of course, the bowl streak breaking euphoria-inducing win. Mary deserved this as much as anyone as she was at NU from ’80-’84 and likely never thought she’d ever see anything like this in her lifetime. Better yet, as I tried to explain in the post on New Year’s Day night, she made a new friend as we all seemed to down in Jacksonville. Here is Mary with her new bud, Zachary. Very cool story.
Perception Changing Data Points
The emails are pouring in. They can also be found in the comments section. Fans sporting purple on their way back to the far corners of the States have been stopped by randoms and congratulated. A reader stopped in Tulsa and was congratulated on the win and praised for having Fitz as a coach. A Delta flight was congratulated by the pilot before takeoff. I was stopped in the Providence airport by a random and told what an exciting program we have. And then there is Michael McNerney. Michael is a diehard ‘Cats fan and well, displaced, would be an understatement. Mike found himself in Georgia for the game. As in the country, south of Russia, not the state. He somehow rigged his IPad to get WatchESPN and brought it to dinner with a group of friends that included Miss Bellarussia. His email was hilarious as he tried to explain the randomness of being at a dinner table with a group that knew nothing about football and how he said “screw it” and pulled out the IPad at dinner and proceeded to get the group fired up about the ‘Cats. Apparently the 64-year drought is universal across sports and language barriers. Mike had them singing the fight song, celebrating with Vodka and genuinely getting them engaged. You’ll note that Mr. McNerney chose to take his photo with only the ladies, but regardless, there is a new outpost of Wildcat fans.
LTP N Flag Project
Jay Turley put this beautiful shot on the board on New Year’s Day. The shot was taken at Sea Island, GA, not far from Jacksonville.