Competitive Balance, NUcomers Club Tix & Host of ‘Cat Nips

HELLOOOOOOO! Nothing like a commitment from a 6-9 power forward to get this late July week off to a roaring start. We’re going to start with an update on the NUcomers QB Club party ticket sales for August 26. After day one, we sold 40+ tickets and are hoping to equal that feat today.

In honor of the community rallying to secure 200+ NEW season ticket holders and 500+ single game tickets, we’re throwing a soiree on Monday, August 26 at 6pm at Howells & Hood in the Tribune building at 435 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  Tickets are limited to only 175 people and each ticket is $25 which gets you two hours of open bar and an assortment of heavy hors d’oeuvres.  Most importantly, you’ll get to mingle with fellow Wildcat diehards, introduce new fans to the Wildcat ways and get treated to a feature presentation that includes an LTP live Q&A with former Wildcat QBs Dan Persa, Zak Kustok and Steve Schnur!


If you have any issues with purchasing tickets, email me at and we’ll help out. We are still looking for sponsor support to help defray the cost of the event so please email me if you’re interested! Also, we’ve got a tickets widget on the upper right hand side of this home page, which you can use to order the tickets. Help spread the word with your friends and network!!! A reminder this is an UNOFFICIAL NU event ( I learned several called the NU ticket office yesterday), that they are aware of, but technically can’t support since we talk about recruiting from time to time on this site.

Shot of Howells & Hood patio just outside our private room.
Shot of Howells & Hood patio just outside our private room.


Competitive Balance

In the wake of Chris Collins’ second big get on the recruiting trail (what was that debate about replacing Carmody again?) by hauling in 6-9 PF Gavin Skelly, I thought we’d take a moment to talk about competitive balance. This is a phrase that Fitz has been using over and over when he’s talking big picture about the uptick in NU recruiting. He candidly talks about the last several years, since Mike Hankwitz joined the staff, and the need to build up depth at each spot.  This topic goes way back to the 80’s, when NU, despite it’s poor record, turned out several NFL players per year. The problem was, we only had B1G level talent at a handful of spots and zero depth.  In recent years, we’ve been B1G level, but having 2+ deep at that level enables you to get that much better every day in practice.  This theme was, and still is one of Duke basketball’s major selling points. Coach K (and presumably Coach Collins) sold top-flight recruits, who could’ve been top dog at lesser schools, on the merits of facing NBA competition from day one in practice.

The competitive balance has a long way to go in NU hoops, but with at least two more slots to fill for the 2014 commitments, you can tell Collins will be getting there soon.  He’s already landed  top flight talent based on the arrival of a Top 100 player in Vic Law, added some upside with a legit power forward and has made huge inroads  a slew of 4-star talent bantering about Northwestern in their strong consideration set.  In football, we now have so much depth at some spots that Fitz is enjoying the luxury of guys who would’ve been starters four years ago, to new positions.  Godwin Igwebuike is just one of many examples.  The talented RB agreed to move to DB a few weeks ago to help shore up one of the few thin roster unit areas we have left.  Igwebuike would’ve been handed the rock as a starter two years ago.  Now, he’s behind a list that goes five-to-six deep.  Imagine the luxury of having 4-star QB Clayton Thorson come in and practice on the scout team next year.  It’s this level of depth that elevates the first and second string guys.  If you talk to insiders in hoops and/or football, this depth, particularly in practice, is what separates the elite from the pack.  At Alabama, redshirt players are earning their keep by battling NFL first rounders.  At Northwestern, we’re nearing the day when redshirt and back-ups are now battling All Big Ten-level talent at many positions. It’s a big deal.

Football Recruiting Nuggets

Indianapolis LB, Brandon Lee, narrowed his list of finalists to five and NU made the cut. According to, Lee is going to graduate early (December) after his senior football season at Lawrence Central High School.  NU’s competition includes Cal, Louisville, Oregon and Virginia Tech. If Brandon opts for the academic combo, you’d like to think it would be a two-dog race between NU and Cal.  Also, 6-2, 190 pound DB, Adam Soesman of Clovis, California, has narrowed his list down to Oregon State and Northwestern with an admitted nod in academic scales towards NU.  Most NU recruiting experts have Soesman as the most likely to pledge to the purple of the recruits still in the mix for three coveted slots to finish the class of 2014.

What Are The Odds?

I’m not promoting gambling with this blurb and as a guy who lived through an NU reverse point shaving scandal, I’m hyper-sensitive to any reference to odds and college sports. That said, it is a good indicator of the marketplace in terms of perception. Bovada provided the following odds on NU, which are in line with CBS Sports’ predictions of the ‘Cats – 4th in their own division. Michigan State continues to get all kinds of love, likely in part to their very generous schedule. Still, I’m getting sick of the no respect card. Man, do I want another 10-win season this year to finally start getting some national recognition.

Odds to win the 2013-2014 Big Ten Conference           

Ohio State                    5/6
Michigan                       4/1
Nebraska                      13/2
Michigan State              15/2
Wisconsin                     15/2
Northwestern                 10/1
Iowa                             33/1
Indiana                          50/1
Minnesota                     66/1
Purdue                          75/1
Illinois                           100/1


Odds to win the 2013-2014 Big Ten Conference – Legends Division     

Michigan                       2/1
Michigan State              11/4
Nebraska                      11/4
Northwestern                 4/1
Iowa                             10/1
Minnesota                     20/1


NU Purple Pricing

Crain’s Chicago featured Northwestern’s Purple Pricing (free subscription required) yesterday in light of single game tickets going on sale THURSDAY, AUGUST 1! That’s right, the only tickets left for season ticket holders wanting to get Ohio State tickets are single seats in the endzone. This game will sellout on Thursday, folks, BUT you can still get tickets as NU is holding back season tickets, which will likely be slightly more than the Dutch Auction style purple pricing they’re invoking.  Essentially, a high price tag will be set for single game Ohio State tickets until someone purchases tickets, thus setting the pricing bar. It’s a great way to approach discretionary pricing like this to optimize money for a game that is going to be an instant sellout. The bottom line is the best value is still to get season tickets. When you do, email us and let us know!

Nick Roach Article

The Mercury News put former Wildcat LB, Nick Roach, under the positive spotlight. The feature, which focuses on Roach’s stellar play and exemplary approach to the game is the type of alumni profile that underscores what Coach Fitzgerald preaches. Take a look here. 

GB Sighting

Word on the street is that former NU head coach, Gary Barnett, was recently in town to take part in the Northwestern Gridiron Network golf outing.

LTP Purple Pledge

So many of you have thankfully kept the season tickets going as well as the single game tickets, despite the fact we’ve already reached our goal. We added six more NEW season tickets thanks to Kevin Torres’ lovely girlfriend, Quentin Williams going from the field to the stands with the rest of us, Albert Lyu added +2 and Jason Corbalis also put a pair of seasons on the board.  From a single game ticket perspective, yours truly put up 12 more (8 Michigan, 4 MS), while Tim Kowols +1 and Anthony Bukowski +2 on OSU.


  • Jim (C89)

    Heh. Illinois 100-1. Heh-heh.

  • Richard

    Hmm. I actually wouldn’t quibble with the absolute ranking of odds in the Legends division that much, but I would put the 4 contenders much closer together (Michigan is definitely overvalued; probably because they have a ton of fans & a boffo recruiting class; even though those recruits will have zero impact on games in 2013).
    Taking in to account the vig, the true odds that oddsmakers are giving each team in our division are
    Michigan: 30.7%
    MSU & UNL: 22.3%
    NU: 15.3%
    Iowa: 6.1%
    Minn: 3.1%
    I think that MSU & UNL do have a slight edge (despite their flaws) because they do have an easier schedule than NU or UM.
    I would have put UM a little above them, except that they have (literally) 1 QB this season. Devin Gardner goes down, and they’re screwed.
    So the odds by my reckoning:
    MSU & UNL: 25%
    NU & UM: 22%
    Iowa: 6%
    Minny: 0%
    Our division will be a dogfight, and very well could be determined by injuries. In that regard, NU and MSU are best positioned in that neither team has one guy who would sink the team’s chances dramatically if he goes down.

    • LTP

      I love it when LTP readers go the extra mile like this and add that value of a different perspective. Great stuff!

  • Mark

    I just don’t see MSU as better than the Cats. Their defense may be great but other teams will be able to score on them and from what I saw last year in East Lansing the Spartans are hurting at QB. I think the division is a very close one and think the Cats can win it.

    • LTP

      I don’t either. Their offense has a ton to prove, but their D will be very, very good.

    • Richard

      With MSU, keep in mind that their schedule is easier.

      Then again, if any of the 4 contenders beats all of the other 3, they likely win the division, regardless of how the cross-divisional games go.

      • PDXCat

        I’m confused (maybe). Isn’t the first deciding factor in division champ the division record? Or is it conference, then division?