The battle for Chicago is very much on

Signing Day is a lot about talk.

Pat Fitzgerald would say that as much as anyone. He does not quite get the infatuation on recruiting Web sites with the whims of 18 year olds and is focused solely on what is good for his class, his team and the young men he coaches. That was the tenor that came from Fitzgerald’s press conference introducing the class of 15 student athletes preparing to enroll at Northwestern and play football at the school.

Meanwhile further down state — approximately 137 miles and two hours south of Chicago — Tim Beckman was introducing his class of Fighting (using that term loosely after their horrific one-win Big Ten season in which they had an average margin of defeat of 19.3 points per game in their seven losses) Illini and declared his team the winner of the “State of Chicago.” Via Vinnie Duber of CSN Chicago:

“We signed four football players out of the ‘state’ of Chicago, as we call it. And that is more than the actual team that is in Chicago signed,” Beckman said. “So we’re proud, and we want this state to understand that we’re proud of the high school football in this state.”

Indeed, the Illini brought in an impressive haul of 18 recruits with five coming from Illinois, including three from the Chicagoland area. That does not include grabbing Ifeadi Odenigbo’s little brother, Tito.

So Beckman wants to declare himself and his team as the winners of Chicago. Except he really is not.

The recruits Northwestern got from the Chicagoland area certainly are worth noting. That would by Clayton Thorson, Justin Jackson and Parrker Westphal. Those are all top recruits within Illinois, let alone Chicago.

According to Scout, Northwestern recruited three of the top 16 prospects in Illinois. The Illinis just had one. In Scout’s recruiting class rankings, Northwestern came in 59th in the admittedly flawed team rankings. Illinois was dead last in the Big Ten — with a larger class at that.

You tell me who may have won Chicago?

Pat Fitzgerald said at his press conference at Ditka’s that Northwestern, in fact, “dominated Chicagoland.” Dominated might be going a little far, but the Wildcats appeared to get a nicer haul from the Chicagoland area and from Illinois than the Illini did.

Of course, all this should be proven on the field. That is where NU is now 2-0 against Tim Beckman and Illinois. There is no reason to think that will not continue when the Illini make their trip to Ryan Field this fall.

  • Jim J

    Oh, this bickering over who is the winner of the “State of Chicago” is just silly….Let’s just decide this on the field…Oh, we did that…TWICE for you Beckman…..Fine…..let’s just decide this on the BBall court….Oh what?….we did that too….(YAWN)

  • Icehockeycat

    I hope Illinois gives Beckman a 20-year extension. The good Dr. should offer to pay his salary. Beckman has done more for NU football than I think any of our coaches could ever have done. Whenever things go bad for us in any sport, all we need to do is look down south and know “it could be worse”.
    It seems Beckman’s influence has now reached the men’s basketball team as well. Maybe they will make him the AD…

  • Richard

    However, UofI isn’t in southern Illinois. Downstate, but not southern Illinois.

    • GoCats

      Thank you Richard… that was going to be my point too.. Nothing bugs me more when people refer to places like Dixon, IL as “downstate” or in this case southern Illinois.. Champaign is definitely downstate.. but east-central or central Illinois. You have to get past Effingham to be in southern Illinois.

      • Ron

        Eh.. for my money, everything south of I-80 is southern Illinois :)

  • DRB

    Since 1995 NU has a better record than the Illini, and rarely finished higher than last in the recruiting rankings. It’s what you do with what you get that matters. Ron Zook had top 3 classes and had a loosing record as a coach. If Fitz could win with lessor rated talent, he should do very well with top talent. The U of I would be better served focusing on it’s self rather than being petty

  • Bob Parkman

    With a 6-18 record, he’s all hat and no cattle.

  • LTP

    Hats off to Rodger Sherman who had a hilarious take on this nonsense –

  • Old Fat Bald Guy

    The Illini signed more than “the actual team that is in Chicago”? Does he mean the Maroons?

    • Tim Beckman – what a maroon… I guess he admits that NU is “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” even if we’re not “actually in chicago.” Or we’re an “actual team” and Ill-annoy is not?? He’s so hard to follow.

  • Johnathan Wood

    Tough break for the basketball team today. Their defense is good enough to keep them in almost every game, while their offense is bad enough to keep their opponent in pretty much every game.

    That leads to a lot of close games, and you’re not going to win all of them.

  • Garrett

    I know this is far in advance, but I’m curious of LTP is considering any type of group effort for the game at Notre Dame next year. I will definitely be making the trip, but it would be great to be around some other Cats fans. Thanks for any feedback

    • PBRCat

      This is an opportunity for a large gathering. First Wildcats’ visit to South Bend since 1995 too.

  • fidel305

    Illinois is so far down NU looks like up to them. Both of us were terrible last year, but the illini were worse.. while we are bickering with the bottom of the big ten Ohio state is turning into a recruiting juggernaut.

    • cebpd

      we also lost our all american RB for the year as well as Colter for good amounts of games. We also lost our starting DB for the entire season. We were also competitive in every game except michigan st. Illinois weren’t even close in many games

      • fidel305

        I’m a fan but you are what your record says you are. Michigan had as many injuries as we did. They beat us at home and still managed a bowl game. Play calling was a big problem. So was qbing with or without colter. Looking toward to next year with a new QB hopefully

        • gocatsgo2003

          Right, because injuries never play a role in a team’s success, especially when they occur at the QB position… and when we were down to our 6th-string RB at one point in the season…

          • fidel305

            Frankly, neither one of our quarterbacks were good enough even when healthy. The backup running backs were good enough and better than we’ve had in seasons where we’ve done much better. And the defense was better than in the past. I would agree that Venric being out hurt, but his loss was felt most in the kick return game. Everyone has injuries, nebraska beat us with their back up quarterback. No Excuses.

          • gocatsgo2003

            When were either fully healthy? Colter was concussed against Cal in the opener, then seemed to be fighting injuries throughout the year. Siemian hurt his heel against Wisconsin.
            Siemian was relatively effective against Cal (though clearly not a GREAT game),

          • fidel305

            both qbs were inadequate when healthy. colter cant throw and defenses cheated on that aspect of the read option when colter was in. Siemian cant run the read option because he cant run. And when we tried a more traditional offense to accomodate him, we didnt have the O line to pass block his vertical drop. not recruited or coached up to do that. he also made some incredibly bad decisions and held the ball for a sack too often. the running game also suffered when he was in there.
            looking forward to Matt Alviti

          • gocatsgo2003

            My point is that there wasn’t really a game in which the QBs were truly healthy. When they were healthy, they played pretty darn well (moved the ball at will against Syracuse, the offense was moving pretty effectively against Ohio State, then holes in the OL were exposed by Wisconsin, giving us two injured QBs for the remainder of the season). When Siemian was even remotely healthy again, he put on a pretty darn good show against the Illini.

            The “Colter can’t throw” line of thinking is getting old. Was he a great thrower? No… but he did exactly what was needed in a read-option, ball-control passing game.

            And the “Siemian can’t run the read option” line of thinking is also pretty outdated. He’s certainly not the athlete Colter is, but he’s not exactly a stiff. In any event, McCall’s preferred offense is a ball-control passing offense in which a QB has to simply be a moderate threat to run, not an all-everything athlete type.

            I also get a kick out of those who think that a completely untested redshirt freshman will simply drop into the offense and jumpstart it better than a fifth-year senior who has all the physical tools necessary to run the offense that McCall actually wants to run (think Kafka in the Outback Bowl).

          • fidel305

            by “getting old” you mean that most folks disagree with you and you dont like it.
            Colter can’t throw, mechanics, arm strength, accuracy, reads, you name it. Horrible against the blitz. why do you think Siemian is in in long yardage, third down situations.

            And, yeah, siemian cant run the spread option because he cant run. had something like 30 yards total last year and looked worse than that. defenses don’t defend the qb option when he’s in. In the earlier days of the spread you could succeed with a mediocre runner in this offense, like Zach, because it was new. but not any more. and siemian makes zach look like cam newton.

            And, of course, Johnny manziel took over as a red shirt frosh. seems to me as a “completely untested redshirt freshman” who was “simply dropped into the offense” he “jumpstarted it better than a fifth-year senior.”
            there’s some manziel in alviti

          • gocatsgo2003

            Was Colter a great “traditional” passer? No… but he did put up a 148.3 passer rating last year and his ability to scramble behind a porous offensive line was invaluable. He did what was asked of him in the passing game (short, ball-control passes to keep the defense spaced) and he did it efficiently.

            And you’re going to completely ignore the fact that Siemian was hobbled with a bone bruise in his heel from the end of the Wisconsin game on? Even then, he had a couple of nice runs against the Illini once he started getting remotely healthy. We don’t need a QB that can rip off 50-yard runs with regularity (though that would indeed be a luxury); we need one who can get us five yards if the backside DE gets lazy in his reads while making the right throws on time.

            Why do people keep insisting that Oliver is a better athlete than Siemian? He isn’t.

          • fidel305

            I’m done with this subject, except to say I was speaking about program history…kustok. I have no opinion on oliver

          • gocatsgo2003

            Well, if you’re going to refer to Zak Kustok, you could at least spell his name correctly. And, if you’d like, I could put together a gigantic list of spread offenses that have thrived recently without true run threats at QB (Houston, Baylor, LaTech, etc.), but you’d probably just ignore that evidence as well.

            While we are at it, I would also point out that Kustok was a reported 4.67 40 guy (USAToday mistakenly listed him at a 4.97), so he’s a much better athlete than you give him credit for being.

          • fidel305

            I can’t help it if he can’t spell his name and you don’t know the meaning of historical. And, yeah he wasn’t a runner. That’s why he left ND after they changed coach and offense. And yeah those were the early days of the spr option. And yeah I heard that after the fact legend that he was somehow faster than he was. The 4.9 is reported in many places including scouting reports and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess he didn’t get invited to the combine but did the pro day thing. Bottom line he wasn’t much of a runner but looks like cam Newton compared to Trevor. Not that you’re interested but others maybe. There was a good article awhile ago on the most important game in the development of the spread and references kustok in the context of even someone with his limited running ability being able to gain yards on the ground in the offense

          • gocatsgo2003

            It was pretty widely reported that USAToday mistakenly listed his 40 time:

    • Richard

      “Ohio state is turning into a recruiting juggernaut.”

      OSU has always been a recruiting juggernaut.

      They are what their record says they are as well.

      • fidel305

        By most accounts OSU under urban Meyer has taken recruiting at Ohio state to an entirely new level . An SEC level. Their defense which was substandard will be full of freshman and sophs next year. Then you will see what I am talking about. The rest of the big ten is going to have to step up.

        • Richard

          Their O-Line has nothing there right now. All those shiny toys are no use if you lose the battle in the trenches.

          That’s why next year won’t be their year. Maybe the year after that.

          • fidel305

            They played the last two years with players that Meyer did not recruit and there were clearly some talent deficiencies. He had the second best class in the nation this year even with scholarship reductions and he was upset he wasnt number one. His recruiting classes have been focussed on shoring up the prior regime’s weaknesses in the o line and on defense. Thompson is a DT and Jones is an OT. NU is going to have to step up its game and it starts by not letting OSU poach guys like these.

          • Richard

            They’ll be freshman. If they can play at an elite level as freshmen in the B10, I’ll be impressed. Until then, it’s all hype.

          • fidel305

            True dat. miami is always at the top of the rankings but the kids dont perform, at least not at the U [altho a strangely high number go on to do well at the next level.]

            But urban meyer is not al golden. he has a track record. Alot of his recruits will be starting next year, so we’ll see.

            Five stars do compete as freshman and sophs and then leave early for the NFL

      • fidel305

        fitz cant let osu come into the chicago area and pull out recruits like thompson from lombard and Jones out of de la salle, if NU is going compete

        • gocatsgo2003

          Sure he can. Neither of those young men had the academics to get into NU.

          • fidel305

            You don’t know that. Both went to parochial schools so its a good bet they’d academically qualify. And, I’m tired of that excuse

          • Richard

            Thompson didn’t get an offer from NU, so either his grades weren’t good enough or the coaches didn’t think as highly of him as you do.

            Not everyone who goes to a parochial school has good enough grades and scores for NU even as a football player.

            Jones got offers from almost everyone. NU may win a handful of battles against kings, but we’ll lose more than we win. That’s reality. We can still win (and definitely compete) with what we have.

          • fidel305

            NU passed on thompson because he was subpar athletically and OSU was wrong to think otherwise.??? If that were true I’d go with Urban Meyer’s assessment and fire whoever is doing our recruiting. The truth is there is a third option, he just wasnt interested in NU. And, that’s the problem.
            Given what OSU is doing in recruiting under Meyer, NU HAS TO WIN these battles on its home turf of Chicago to compete.

          • gocatsgo2003

            Grades. Grades grades grades grades.

          • fidel305

            notre dame, stanford, michigan, usc, virginia, vanderbilt, and now duke. if they can academically qualify kids, so can we. we’re not that special. Our recruiting is the problem. dont blame the academics. it’s an excuse

          • gocatsgo2003

            The only school that actually has academic standards anywhere comparable to ours is Stanford. No other school on that list should ever be deemed an “academic comparable” for Northwestern, at least as it relates to the football team.

            None of the others have any kind of academic restrictions. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

          • Richard

            What gocatsgo says is true, BTW. Duke has a tradition of taking athletes with far worse test scores than NU or Stanford allows for athletes. UM, ND, USC, and UVa academic standards for athletes are far below NU’s or Stanford’s. I’m not sure about Vandy, but given that they offered a bunch of recruits closer to Chicago that Fitz didn’t offer, I have to imagine that their academic standards for athletes are lower than NU’s as well.

          • fidel305

            But why not go after better/?

          • gocatsgo2003

            OK. You don’t have to believe me, but it’s the truth.
            And you may be tired of that excuse all you want, but the fact is that Northwestern can only recruit about 15% of the top-level prospects in any given year. This is why we only actively recruited about five of the top 25 players in the state of Illinois on a yearly basis.

          • fidel305

            Let’s focus on point shall we.
            one of the osu recruits was from montini catholic, a college prep school in the suburban christian conf.. the other was from de la salle in the chicago catholic league. If NU cant recruit in these leagues we may as well give up football. In contrast, Richard Sherman was admitted to stanford out of Dominguez HS in Compton, hardly a bastion of higher learning.
            ND also manages to admit the kind of players you say we can’t. I’m not buying the excuse.

          • gocatsgo2003

            … and Richard Sherman had a 4.2 GPA while graduating as salutatorian of his class. It’s about the individual, not the school or the conference.

            Remember Nile Sykes, the linebacker from Montini about whom we all got excited when we heard he had a 26 ACT? Well, turns out he had a 2.3 self-reported GPA after transferring from Oak Park-River Forest to Montini for his senior year.

            You don’t think we recruit the Chicago Catholic League? Matt Frazier, Chance Carter, Pat Ward, Mike Kafka, and others say “HELLO!”

            We have also recruited a number of players from the Suburban Christian Conference (Jordan Westerkamp, etc.), just with lesser success.

            And Notre Dame has no academic restrictions for admitting its athletes aside from NCAA minimums. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

          • fidel305

            a 4.2 out of doninguez is no predictor of academic success at the next level.. and if you cant recruit a 28 ACT because of existing “standards” you need to revise the standards or quit football. a 28 ACT can do the work at NU
            and, my point isnt that we dont get some. my point is that we cant let OSU and Michigan poach in our backyard.

          • gocatsgo2003

            A kid with a 28 ACT and a 2.3 GPA is either lazy or doesn’t care about his schoolwork, neither of which will set him up for success at Northwestern.

            If a 4.2 GPA in high school is not a strong predictor of academic success at the collegiate level… what exactly WOULD be a strong predictor of academic success at the collegiate level?

            And MY point is that we aren’t letting them poach in our backyard. They’re mostly taking kids that we couldn’t get into school.

          • fidel305

            Apparently for you a 990 SAT and a hi gpa from a school where 2/3 are not proficient in English with a grade of around 33 out of 100 is OK. Now tell NU

            By Sherman standards a 28 act and c average at these other high schools qualifies for IST

            Give it up. Stop using standards as an excuse

          • gocatsgo2003

            Dude… it was literally my job in the football office for about three years to screen the academic transcripts of potential recruits. I can almost guarantee you that I have a better handle on the academic requirements for recruits than anyone outside the football offices.

            And yes, I would much rather have a high-character, high-GPA kid with a lower standardized test score than a high-character, high-test kid with a low GPA. It’s much easier to make the case for the potential success of a kid who “outperformed” his standardized test than one who “underperformed.”

            The fact that your rambling about the academic qualifications of our recruits was incoherent is pretty darn ironic.

          • fidel305

            tsk. tsk. resorting to name-calling? I must have hit close to the mark with you.
            Thanks for admitting to your part in NU’s inability to recruit top athletes. Obviously you have a vested interest in defending the status quo. I don’t; we need change. I have
            seen the problem and the problem is you.

            And thanks too for ducking the entire issue of the worthlessness of gpa when dealing with substandard or failing schools. That was the purpose of standardized scores in admissions in the first place.

            And, of course, thanks for sharing the baseless opinions of a transcript reader as to what you would rather have. You have no special expertise in this. At best you’re simply shilling for the status quo in admissions [which for schools like NU and above is already an arbitrary and capricious joke on so many levels]. I would take both athletes. But in terms of best being able to do the work, stick with the high test score kid. At least he has the ability to do the work. Not many athletes, even smart ones, are going to worry that much about grades in high school.

            The low test score kid is going to have trouble even if motivated. And then there is the whole ugly business of grades being easier to fudge than SATs. But I know how much the admins love to give lip service to gpa being preferable to test scores when
            they are looking at special admits. It
            makes them feel that they are striking a blow against the evil SAT. Of course, at the same time, they jealously guard the test score metrics for other candidates to protect their rankings. Essentially, it’s all just self-involved, self-important crap. I’m just in favor of less crap when it comes to recruiting folks with special skills.

            And, finally, at root, this entire meme of we’re too tough academically has become nothing more than an excuse. NU bends and sometimes breaks the standards
            for athletes. We’re just not as successful in landing the real good ones as other programs. And, by constantly parroting that excuse it becomes self-fulfilling as the four and five stars go somewhere else where football is not devalued. Like Notre Dame, Michigan, and now Stanford.

          • gocatsgo2003

            “Dude” counts as name-calling? Thin skin much?
            You don’t think that the school and the quality of the curriculum that a prospect takes is part of the consideration by Admissions?
            I actually think that the status quo should be changed to allow Fitz and the rest of the staff more power to admit anyone they want so long as they keep the team’s graduation rate and other academic performance metrics at an acceptable level. I’m just pointing out that we have academic restrictions that must be part of the recruiting process that no other schools actually have (save for Stanford).

          • fidel305

            You’re just babbling at this point. Learn to stop digging when u r in a hole

          • gocatsgo2003

            And here I thought I was actually making educated points. Silly me.

          • fidel305


          • fidel305

            and, oh yeah, have you seen how tommy amaker is remaking the harvard basketball team with his “nontraditional”, “academically unqualified” recruits. Some of these kids would have trouble with admissions at mediocre schools. but harvard has a tradtion of admitting special skill kids who do not come close to their “standards.” Like Harvard, we need to recognize that these standards are artificial and that, despite the public persona the school likes to project, the vast majority of kids can do the work, engineering and some other disciplines excepted.
            Now tell me NU somehow knows better than harvard. about anything.

          • gocatsgo2003

            The only “nontraditional” aspect of Amaker’s recruiting at Harvard is that he is getting better players than they have ever had before. The Ivy League has a league-wide formula called the Academic Index to which all athletes are subject. Essentially, for a player to get admitted as a student-athlete to an Ivy League school, he needs about a B average and a 1140 two-part SAT at a bare minimum. The piece linked below spells out what Amaker is doing to improve Harvard basketball… and it isn’t bringing in NCAA qualifiers:


            From there, the schools must provide information on their recruits to the Ivy League regarding the “bands” into which their recruits fall, subject to limitations on how many of each “band” can be admitted every year. This link does a pretty good job explaining how that system works:


          • fidel305

            Read the crimson. I kno what ivy league rules say. There are exceptions

          • fidel305

            Do you even remember the “point” you are trying to defend? Harvard, like NU [NU loves to see its name next to Harvard], also supposedly had admissions standards for athletes that were higher than league minimums. If you were being consistent you would be applauding that because it makes Harvard more
            special..haha. In reality, it just made them uncompetitive.

            To accommodate Amaker’s recruits, Harvard changed and now claims to be holding athletes to league minimum requirements and not anything higher. BTW,
            I am familiar with the Ivy league “academic index” and that Harvard defense piece you found. However, many critics, other coaches and reporters, disagree claiming Harvard is actually manipulating this and taking undue advantage of exceptions. If Amaker weren’t a proven cheat, I’d call that going the extra mile. Lol.

            However, when it comes to NU I’m not asking NU to look for loopholes, I’m just asking that we play by the same rules that Michigan and Notre Dame play by.
            Imposing extra restrictions on admissions of athletes doesn’t make us Harvard; it makes us LOSERS.

          • gocatsgo2003

            I understand your position. My point is that isn’t who we are as an institution and we will ALWAYS have higher academic standards than NCAA minimums. Always.