Closing Time – Part II

Wow. That was a bit overwhelming. I’m never at a loss for the written word, but yesterday was one of those days. The LTP community outpouring of thanks and support triggered all kinds of emotions for me. Thank you to every one of you who commented on the blog about your support and thanks. Thank you to those who sent personal emails and to the many of you that called me as well. Wow. Wow. Wow.

I should clarify the single biggest question folks had. Yes, we will still be keeping the site up and “live” for archival purposes so you can access things like the LTP map and past stories. Also, Kevin Leonard, the man who is in charge of Northwestern University’s  archives has archived the history of LTP, with my permission, for future Wildcat fans to enjoy. I’m working with Brian DeConninck, the website design and programming guru for LTP to help with some short term and long term solutions.

Many of the emails and calls confirmed what I had imagined existed out there. At the other end of every email or blog comment was a human being who had a story. A unique way in which LTP somehow resonated with you-whether it was a part of your daily routine – or perhaps as just an occasional browser during football season.  In many ways it felt like attending your own funeral.

I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t impact me. It did. It felt very, very good to understand the depths of appreciation. One gentleman relayed, in great detail, how LTP had become a daily bond between he and his increasingly ill father. A current student told me that his daily high school fix of LTP shaped his decision to attend Northwestern. Several far flung (from Evanston) Wildcat alums talked about how LTP was their olive branch to remaining purple. The stories kept coming and I was mesmerized. It also contributed to one half of the mixed emotions of the day.

On one hand, I felt a giant weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I actually felt differently physically after the post. On the other hand, I felt I was letting a robust community of thousands and thousands of people down. Mixed emotions for certain. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Today, I wanted to address a post I’ve been longing to do for years. The subheader on today’s post should be “The hypocrisy of anonymity”.  It’s rather obvious that I’ve intentionally withheld my name from this publication since day one back in June of 2007.  As I mentioned yesterday, I run a company called TeamWorks Media in Chicago, a purpose-driven marketing company that helps organizations tell their story in ways to resonate with their target audiences.  Our clients include both the Big Ten Conference and the Big Ten Network and through them, we work with all 14 Big Ten universities. I never wanted to jeopardize the very clients that help make our company successful and I felt by not having my name and face out there, it would prevent any awkwardness, at least publicly, for anyone at the Conference, the Network or any of the member schools.

The irony of this is that every single person I deal with at the B1G, BTN or Northwestern knows I am the man behind LTP. Considering 750 of you met me in person at Sailgate in 2010 and another several hundred met me at the 2013 QB Club Season Kickoff Party my anonymity is kind of a joke.

My name is Jay Sharman. I’m a 1995 Northwestern School of Speech graduate and I was a Radio/TV/Film major.  I’m a Rhode Island (Smithfield, to be exact) native who grew up a diehard New England sports fan during the Larry Bird/Bill Buckner/Steve Grogan/Ray Borque era. I attended nearly every Providence College basketball game from 1978 through 1991 when I departed for Evanston. I’m one of those guys, who despite not knowing that NU was in the Big Ten in high school until I became interested in the school academically, attended NU, in part because of the Big Ten affiliation. I distinctly remember being at Dyche Stadium in 1990 on my college visit and saying “THE Michigan, plays here? THE Ohio State plays here against Northwestern?” It wasn’t a slight at the facilities. As a kid growing up in a college hoops area of the world I was overwhelmed that MY potential school had a 50,000-seat stadium (Dyche had a few thousand more seats than Ryan Field that put it at 49,000+).  The fact that I could go to this school, join the campus radio station and broadcast games? Deal closer.

Like many of you I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to Northwestern Athletics. My first job out of college was co-producing the Gary Barnett Show (yes, in THE year of all years) and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I could never quite get my fix of Northwestern football from the mainstream media and always felt beyond jealous when going to say, East Lansing, and seeing the 10-page coverage of the opposing team.  I was shocked at how many thousands of people out there were as nutty as me in their longing for more NU-ness. You know what I’m talking about. Huddling in the bathroom in a foreign country so as not to wake anyone so you can hit refresh on the score while racking up an obscene cell phone bill. For a game against Ohio University. Yes, that kind of a nut.

I can tell you that on the business side this has been one of those identity crisis scenarios that you can appreciate. The very first time I met Pat Ryan was during the final stages of Chicago’s bid for 2016 (which TeamWorks worked on) and there I was thinking I was a proud business owner about to meet one of the titans of entrepreneurship and I was introduced to him as the man behind Lake The Posts. He glowed with enthusiasm and well, you can imagine what my thought bubble was.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jim Delany, BTN president Mark Silverman and of course Morty Schapiro and Jim Phillips. The purpose of these name drops isn’t to try and boost myself but rather lay out the case for why I remained “anonymous”.  When I think about it, it was kind of silly, because t here were very few things I ever wrote that I didn’t believe I would ever say in person to the person I was being critical of.

Did these relationships impact my writing? Sure it did. Probably in a good way. There were things done along the way that I passionately disagreed with, but I was fortunate enough to have a direct one on one forum so why use an anonymous blog post? And, as I stated many times, when it comes to Northwestern Athletics, as hard as I took poor performances or even good ones that ended in a loss, my pain factor was actually less than guys like Jim Phillips.

From day one I tried to make one thing clear – this is not an objective blog. It is a community whose ring leader is over-the-top biased in favor of Northwestern. My average writing skills could be bolstered by unfiltered fan passion, or so I told myself. I have half dozen Medill alumni who act as free copy editors who never miss pointing out a typo, grammatical error or other mistake. To the relief of many, I’m not a Medill grad.

I will note the single best compliment I ever received for my football coverage was from one reader who commented after a basketball game that he wished I stuck with football since I didn’t know squat about hoops. It made my year. I played basketball my entire life and coached it for double-digit years. I know hoops inside and out.  I never played football and have had to work really hard to learn the nuances and in-game intricacies to enable me to have the con

I believe that one of the things that resonated with so many of you is this passion piece. I hate losing. I hang on to wins way too long. That’s what fans do. If the team looks lethargic, I say it. No, rather, I say what I feel. As long as you’re not a jackass about it, it is hard for people to criticize you too much for being honest about your feelings. This is the part I’m going to miss. Writing was cathartic for me. The buzz that accompanies breaking down a football win or the peace of mind after venting after a loss are going to be tough to cope with in the coming years.

However, the past two years brought about a new wrinkle at LTP that I thought we as a community had overcome -the downside of anonymity. The LTP comments section had turned really ugly, particularly during this past football season. Managing the content on a daily basis is one thing. Monitoring comments from current and previous posts is almost impossible given my time limitations. Finding that fine line between an open forum for debate and blocking comments that became personal attacks was never something I had to deal with.

I have a code of conduct and a new comments section policy all set to go for this year, but that won’t be needed any more. I do believe this was one small contributing factor that tipped the scales of my daily blog posts from fun and exciting to more of an obligation. So many times I wanted to scream out “stop being anonymous if you’re going to throw stones”, yet there I was, the hypocrite who anonymously wrote the blog. Had I continued with the blog, I can tell you that the comments section would very much have evolved in to a real name or bust kind of scenario.

Many of you have reached out to me on this and expressed your concern and disappointment at this element of the blog. It is what I believed helped separate it from so many other blogs.  I do believe it is also symptomatic of the increasing impatience of our society in a world driven by technology that has created a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude that has redefined “lately” as seconds or minutes.  That’s a diatribe for another day.

As I mentioned yesterday, I knew eventually this day would come, but I always thought it involved dropping the mic and exiting stage left at a much higher apex in NU football history. This is obviously a huge year for the Wildcat football program. Back-to-back losing seasons off of that remarkable Gator Bowl run, a fan base that was crying for coaching changes and a conference that seemingly just endured an Extreme Home Coach Makeover with Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, three brand heavyweights all making changes, while several others endured significant changes at the assistant level (headlined by Michigan State losing Narduzzi and Ohio State losing their OC).

I try not to look back because it will make you a bit crazy. Consider, the very same season I started the blog was Jim Harbaugh’s first at Stanford. After struggling for two seasons, he brought Stanford to 8 wins in year three and then 12 wins in his fourth year, blitzing past NU. He bolted for the pros, took the Niners to three straight NFC Conference Championships and is now back at Michigan, all in the window of LTP. That’s just kind of sick.

Ohio State’s surprising upset of Alabama and potential B1G brand-changing national championship this Monday night signify part of a potential seismic shift in college football. There is little doubt that Jim Harbaugh will be successful at Michigan. Wisconsin should just rotate coaches and have Barry coach the big games at this point (kidding, kind of). It’s been wholesale changes for every team except for Iowa and Northwestern during my LTP run.  You get the strong sense that both of these programs will need to make significant changes to get to the next level.  Unfortunately for us, that “next level” is now middle of the pack, where a few years ago it was the upper tier.

It would be silly for fans to expect there to be an absolute win/loss record in 2015 that triggers a rash of assistant coaching changes. There are such things as very bad 7-5 years (just usually not at Northwestern) and somewhat good years that are .500 based on things like an impossible schedule. It is fair to assume that a losing record for the third straight year is a no-brainer for significant change, but the bigger  question is what comprises both the tangibles (won-loss record, how they perform against teams they should beat and teams they are underdogs against) and the intangibles moving forward? It should be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

My hope, and I know it is yours, is that NU football returns to a double digit win season and a major bowl. The beauty of college football is that every season is its own life. You bury one and you get a brand new one.  After experiencing 1995 firsthand, I only know one thing – predicting seasons, good or bad – is almost impossible.

This upcoming football season  in particular will be a unique one for some of us. It’s the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Rose Bowl team.  That sentence alone conjures up all kinds of memories and emotions ranging from Darnell Autry runs to “how the hell has it been 20 years?!!!” As we entered 2015, I couldn’t help but think about the five year increments of success we’ve had. The 1995 season, the 2000 season, the 2005 season and until Dan Persa’s Achilles got wrecked, most of the 2010 season…and somehow that will magically translate in to a good 2015. That’s how nuts like us think.

 

 

  • Just the Facts

    Jay:
    Thank you for all of your effort over the years. I really feel like I’m losing a close friend in losing LTP. Although family and friends put up with my NU sports obsession, it was only on this blog that I felt like people got the frustration, pain, and joy that comes with rooting for NU. Frankly, the feeling of losing LTP is as bad as the feeling after an NU loss in a big game (ex. OSU 2013).
    Just a question for you. Over the past couple of years you have added some writers to help with the blog. Why not just turn over the writing to current students/recent grads/other alums who have a passion for NU sports and perhaps a career path that would be helped by such participation? Even monitoring the comments could be done by someone else. Then LTP could go on but it wouldn’t require your day-to-day supervision (although you could pen the occasional post anytime you wanted).

    • LTP

      Thanks for the note. I appreciate the idea, Just the Facts, and indeed explored this option for a bit, before realizing that the frequency and quality level needed to ensure that the brand integrity remained was a full-time job in and of itself. Ask any of the writers – writing 1-2 posts per week is taxing. Managing daily content to be all-in is exhausting.

      • Purple Haze

        Thanks for all your hard work. It is and was a great way to express our passion for NU sports whether the posts were viewed as positive or negative.
        One suggestion to keep LTP alive in some form is to have a kickoff party for the upcoming football season like you had two seasons ago when optimism was at an all-time high where you had Basanez as a speaker and Dan Persa and Teddy Greenstein were there. That was a fun and quality event. Also, fingers crossed when I say this, when the bball team finally makes it to the tourney, there should be a LTP get-together.

  • PurpleBadger

    Thanks for all the Wildcataganda that you gave us through the years.
    However, you cannot just walk off the stage. In the tradition of the Jeters and Jordans who are feted in their last appearances around the league, I would suggest that you do a celebratory last lap around all of the saloons in your NU Bar Network.
    Keep the blog alive for the limited purpose of announcing your bar visits and experiences.
    Thus, if you find that you have to travel to Washington for business, for example, you post that you are going to be in Washington on July 1, and that from 8 to 10 you will be at the Washington NU Bar Network bar. Your D.C. readers can then come out to that bar, buy you a drink, thank you in person, and give you some anecdotes that you can use in some future column.
    With some 40+ bars, that should keep the blog alive for some time and give you some interesting new material.
    Seriously, I have appreciated your efforts and wish you the best.

    • LTP

      This is one of the best ideas I’ve heard. I love it. Definitely under consideration.

      • Scooter

        I love PurpleBadger’s idea! I for one, would definitely drop what I’m doing and head over to Blackfinn to buy you a drink and hopefully talk NU sports if I could get through what I’m sure would be a mob of others trying to do the same if you stopped by DC.

        • NUinNY

          That would be really terrific. Just make sure you don’t have any early meetings schedule the next day…

  • Ben Weiner

    Thanks for LTP. I’ve not been a commenter but LTP has helped me keep up with NU sports from New Jersey. Best to you in your future endeavours.

    • LProf

      I will miss this blog terribly. As a professor at the university, I always bonded with my next door colleague and close friend over what was said on LTP that morning. Thank you, Jay, and best of luck.

      • Pikepole

        Jay-can’t thank you enough for all the hard work. We’ll miss our Daily Dose. Best to you.

  • Bela Barner

    Well, nice to meet you. Thanks again for all you have done here!

  • SteveR

    As a 1974 alum and a long-time resident of Florida, I’m one of thousands who never had a meaningful way of staying connected with Northwestern through the years; that is, until Lake the Posts came along. Some will wonder why guys like me would have wanted to stay connected to NU football during the Dark Ages, but that misses the point. Football and other sports, while important to me on their own merits, were more importantly the conduit to a wonderful community of like-minded people who share a love of our University. Exulting with others who cared when we won big games, or sharing the despair of heartbreaking losses, are what LTP provided, particularly for those of us in distant locations. Lake the Posts has been a home-away-from-home, and for me, it will be sorely missed. Thanks, Jay, for offering us a daily reminder of just how special the Northwestern community truly is.

  • binky

    Well at bedtime last night I told my wife you were going ” off the air” . She let out a huge gasp and said ” week who’s going to run it now??”. I explained your comments about how much work.it was and surmised that you would be concerned about brand quality. Let me say the brand quality is way up there. I could never figure out how anyone had enough time to keep LTP up and going with such good contents. As far anonymity I choose binky the rabbit from the cartoon strip “life in hell”, he’s depressed, disallusioned and thus normal. Just what all Wildcat fans are on any given day. The rants and raves on LTP were fun to follow while occasionally sophomoric they were infinitely more intelligent that what I see on other blogs. I wouldn’t dream of commenting at other blogs about politics or what have you, what a waste of time. I.wonder why I felt compelled to jump.in this fray. I know! It was the passion the head of the whole damn mess displayed!! Thanks LTP er Jay. Now I truly have a binky.moment.

    • binky

      Oh and the one and only positive I have for now is that I won’t have to type on my pseudo smart phone where the period has a mind of its own any the touch screen keys are way to tiny. Seriously thanks again Jay.

    • LTP

      Thanks!

  • Jason

    I never understood the deep concern about the comments section being out of hand. It’s a football blog. It’s never going to be 100% civil but my god people need to have some thicker skin. I’m an avid reader and never witnessed out of control swearing or over the top attacks. Of course everything wasn’t 100% fluffy but you shouldn’t be reading a football blog if that’s what you are looking for. In short, it saddens me that a relatively benign comments section managed to tilt you away from continued writing

    • NU’06er

      Just speculating here (and not that I read LTP’s remarks about commenting policy as being the deciding factor in his decision to step back from his blog anyway), but perhaps it’s easier to shrug off as a contributing commenter than as host of a forum, where in the latter role there’s probably a feeling of some pressure to mediate?
      It’s not that I don’t agree that people need thick skin because c’mon, it’s the internet and being too upset with someone’s perceived wrongness or impoliteness online is clearly folly of the highest order.
      And yet, the “it’s just a football blog” argument cuts both ways: If we’re all here for an entertaining diversion that is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, why tolerate antagonistic behavior from people who argue with others a bit too dismissively over something that’s supposed to be fun? Rational readers could come to exactly that conclusion and pull back from being too active a participant in the community, despite the best intentions of a-bit-too-zealous advocates.

      • LTP

        NU 0’6er – you nailed most of the sentiment. There were more than a few personal attacks and they grew regularly. Indeed, many were deleted, some had to be blocked and in general it was trending the wrong way in a hurry. i received countless emails from LTP readers pleading to redirect the dialogue back in to more civil spirits. However, in the big picture this was not the reason for ending it so please don’t interpret it that way at all. As the scales tipped from passion to obligation over the years, the reasons, like pennies on both sides of the scales, began to be heavily weighted towards “time to wind ‘er down”. The negative comments were one penny in the whole lot.

        • cmlukey

          I like the “don’t say anything on the ‘net that you wouldn’t say face-to-face policy”, and if somebody is offended, live with the consequences.
          You and LTP will be sorely missed….it was a good ride.

    • sailingcat

      It’s also possible that he removed the most offensive comments before many or any of us saw them, which is inherently time-consuming and time-sensitive.

  • hoyatopurple

    Thanks LTP so much for your fine work with the blog. I first tuned in Summer of 2011 after my son had decided to attend NU. Myself having attended an unnamed basketball school in the Washington DC city limits, I was very new to the whole big-time college football thing. Well, your blog turned me into a convert, in a hurry. I have probably read your blog every day since then and your passionate pleas to turn Ryan Field purple convinced me to buy season tickets (despite the fact that I live in the SF Bay Area!). I now have two children attending NU, a sophomore daughter and my senior son. Thankfully I am able to get to about 3 home games per year and give my other game tickets to my parents that live in the Chicago area. Our whole extended family have become NU football converts and live and die with the purple and white. I will greatly miss reading your wonderful posts but rest assured will forever be a fan. Go Cats!!

  • Cletown Joe

    I thanked you yesterday, Jay. Today I want to thank your wife. What an understanding, supportive woman she must be to have allowed you to dedicate so much of your free time to this site over the past 7 years.

    • LTP

      Just showed her this comment. Big smiles.

  • Kelly in Oregon

    Thank you for sharing! I’m going to miss you a lot – I’ve really enjoyed LTP over the years. It’s definitely my favorite NU blog. Even though many people may have known who you were, I never did until yesterday, so I am glad you finally “revealed” yourself. :)

  • Catatonic Joe

    I usually stop by the LTP website a couple times a day. Monday I never logged on, and look what I missed! Thanks for all the work, Jay. I always wondered how you could keep this up and hold down a day job at the same time. Best of luck in your paying job, I will miss you and the LTP community a lot.

  • Woody6

    For the LTP’s Final Days, A Crucial “Big Picture” Perspective:

    2015 NU Football Reality Check: Upcoming B1G era of titans: Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh, and Mark Dantonio:

    So, what’s the outlook for us in this new era? Well, to be blunt, it’s bleak.

    Principally, because our coach, Pat Fitzgerald, has shown he’s not a competent Big Ten coach. Proof: In 9 seasons he has lost substantially more conference games (12) than he has won. His record is 30-42, replete with many losses from being embarrassingly out-coached in second halves. Dantonio, for one, has done this to Fitz numerous times. Add to that, Fitz is consistently inconsistent, erratic. Examples: in 2011 he lost to Army but beat Nebraska. In 2014, he lost to NIU, beat Notre Dame, and then lost to Illinois. The list could go on.

    Yet it appears our administration/trustees (“ADM”) ignore such realities. And If not explicitly, implicitly by its inaction, it’s saying Fitz’s Big Ten record doesn’t say what it really shouts: He has a 2 million-plus-a-year job that is way beyond his ken.

    And the ADM‘s silence on this leaves us alums and fans to infer that the ADM (1) doesn’t give a hoot, (2) is canonizing Fitz as a necessary PR ambassador, or (3) thinks he needs more time to develop; 9 years is not enough.

    Well, with all due respect to our esteemed ADM, if any of those applies, woe’s us.

    The above said, here’s what things really boil down to: In biting the bullet on Fitz, the ADM continues to do what it has done for 50 years or so with a few exceptions. That is, in contrast to most Division I schools, it gives its athletic programs, especially the football and basketball ones, minimal-financial support.

    How come? Well, it appears the ADM’s thinking is that to support athletic programs like most schools do, it would have to use funds that could better serve academic purposes. At Northwestern academics come first.

    Now, in the days before the Big Ten Network (BTN), that reasoning was commendable and appropriate. But today considering the 25-30 million the BTN annually plunks into NU coffers plus the additional millions the new playoff system likely will soon bring, this policy no longer makes sense.

    In fact, if the ADM continues to follow it, it could very well kill the goose that lays the golden egg. That is, to not use this BTN cash cow to maintain the athletic programs that generate it, by providing them up-to-date facilities and excellence in coaching could eventually run the well dry. In these radically changing times in college sports, the future could surprise.

    Furthermore, Northwestern making inferior, inadequate efforts in anything it undertakes, flies in the face of the excellence, which for 164 years the university has always stood for and pursued.

    Those things said, let’s focus on the Fitz problem:

    If we don’t do something about replacing him, we will soon to be on the path to a new dark age. Oh sure, it won’t be nearly as bad as last century’s, but it’s almost a sure bet that if we keep Fitz, the odds are, we’ll almost always be ensconced in the bottom rungs of the conference.

    So what should be done? With BTN money Fitz should be bought out, or persuaded to keep his word to step down and take another job with NU (see below re his 2012 words).

    Now considering how critical this need for action is, it’s difficult to understand, why and how the ADM seemingly overlooks that Northwestern athletics are a 25-30 million dollar a year business.

    And business is business, or should be. Accordingly, this means at times you have to do hard things, like clean house.

    That’s exactly what the Chicago Bears just did. But because NU is a non-profit organization with billions in endowment, we think we’re financially immortal. And we tend to think we don’t have to do necessary things like clean house; we can give away the farm and do so ad infinitum.

    But you can bet the barn that if an individual ADM member owned a business, which had a person running it who was over his head, he’d be shown the door.

    But of course, our ADM is a group. And since tradition and the past are prologue, it’s likely our ADM will keep Fitz. After all he’s an NU hero. And so what if we enter a new dark age. So what if we’re rutted in the bottom third of the conference for years to come. So what, if we look misguided, absurd by taking in BTN millions and refusing to reinvest it in our programs to keep us competitive. So what if attendance plummets. So what that when Ryan Field is ever full, it’s with an opponent’s fans. So what if Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan compared to other schools’ facilities look rundown, outdated. So, what if their parking areas abound with potholes. So, what if our concessions stands and their offerings for the most part are lousy. So what if Ryan Field’s speaker system is ancient, inadequate. So what if we promise to build a new facility and five years later haven’t turned a spade. So what if season tickets sales hit the pits. So what if on national TV for weeks on end at times we look pathetic with subpar efforts. So what if Northwestern is ridiculed, disrespected, and panned in the media.

    What’s our typical response to such things? A haughty, “Hey, we’re Northwestern.”

    Now hopefully the above “so what” allegations are taken in the vein they’re intended: not to rebuke the ADM, but to help it, give it a wakeup call. And just maybe one influential member will see the light and lead the way to meet at least one critical need, a new head football coach. This is what Chancellor Arnold Weber brilliantly did in December 1991. He said enough is enough and in effect ended the dark ages for NU football, by hiring Gary Barnett.

    Not enough of us know about Arnold Weber’s key role in what many consider the greatest turnaround in college football history. He saw the need for and found the talented young man who in less than four years took the Purple to Pasadena. And he also won two Big Ten Championships for us — all this within 5 years of his hiring.

    But today, we can only hope that in our ADM there’s another person with Arnold Weber’s vision who will influence the head-coaching change we so desperately need just as we needed in December 1991.

    But if that’s pipe dreaming, then OK, as bleak, hopeless, and depressing as everything sounds, there is still ONE HOPE: That If Fitz loves Northwestern as much as he says he does, on his own volition, he will step down.

    As to that, In December 2012, he told The Florida Times Union newspaper in Jacksonville, FL, that despite his long contract, if it turns out he’s not doing the job, he would resign; NU would not have to fire him. (See Jacksonville.com)

    Well, needless to say, 9 years and a 30-42 Big Ten record is not doing the job. So we alums and fans, through letters and emails, should fervently plead with Patrick Fitzgerald to keep his pledge and step down.

    And it goes without saying, Fitz is a good guy and loves his alma mater. Surely, he wouldn’t want a coaching legacy that on his watch Northwestern slumped to the pits and stayed there for X years.

    But no matter what, we should not shed tears for Fitz. Northwestern has made him a millionaire. He should be set for life.

    In conclusion, let’s pray for the sake of our beloved school that Fitz will negotiate with the ADM for another job more suited to his talents, which are many. And that he takes such a job.

    Then just maybe, like Chancellor Weber did, we’ll somehow find a Gary Barnett or Ara Parseghian type, who will take THE PURPLE TO PASADENA as conference champions.

    Once again we’ll live gleeful, fabulous days of euphoria like those of late November, all of December 1995, and January 1, 1996.

    And doesn’t just thinking back to those glorious days, put a smile on your face and sparkles in your eyes? How about that November afternoon when you learned that Michigan had beaten Ohio State, and we were Big Ten champs and going to the Rose Bowl?

    Ah, “Those were the days.” And memories of them should drive us to get emails off to Fitz.

    Then, keep our fingers crossed and hopes on fire.

    • WoefulCat

      Woody6,

      I am going to miss your comments on this site. It is important that you keep it coming, man! Where will you move to? Rivals?

      • Woody6

        I really don’t know where to go. Rivals is out because of bullies. You can’t speak your mind there.
        But I appreciate so much your kind words, WoefulCat.

      • Woody6

        And how about you,WoefulCat, where will you go?

        • WoefulCat

          I’m just a lurker. I guess there is no alternative other than Rivals. Too bad.

  • Icehockeycat

    Thanks for all the work and being polite towards all the comments – it takes more passion than most to put so much time into something, and then wake up and read some of the stuff that gets posted. Another possibility is to hand off the LTP responsibility to someone else coming out of school or something; You have built something quite special and a great jumping off point for “the next generation” to give them a shot. The “brand value” of LTP is worth a lot more than “0”, and shutting it down completely would deny some possible up-and-commer a chance.

  • Greg Epstein

    Wow, first Stephen Colbert and now LTP? Thank you, Jay, for all of the thousands of hours you have put into LTP. For the last 7 years I’ve had LTP as a bookmark and one of the three sites that automatically opens every time I open a new browser. Following NU sports won’t be the same without you, PRR, and all of your contributors. You might not be a Medill student (I wasn’t either), but your writing style and tone have always perfectly captured the blend of optimism and despair involved with being an NU sports fan. I am immensely grateful for all of your time and I sincerely hope to see your writing again when big NU sports news breaks.

  • Mark Heller

    This has been an oasis in the sports desert for me since 2008 (I arrived late). Thanks for all your work.

    Cats football. Just finished reading Bill Polian’s book The Game Plan: The Art Of Building A Winning Football Team. While I don’t think it’s completely transferable to college, he discusses at length the need for everyone in the football end of the operation – the GM, head coach, assistant coaches, and scouts – to be on the same page as to the football attributes of players, character of players, and both offensive and defensive schemes. Without this Polian doesn’t believe you can build a coherent and consistent team and team philosophy.

    Pollen’s book reminds me that calling for coaches to be fired and replaced is not as simple as just getting someone who’s “better.” That person or those persons must understand the complete program the head coach is going after. I suppose that Jerry Kill is a good illustration of the concept – when he’s moved up he’s taken all or most of his assistants with him. He and they may be able to recruit better players with each move up, but all the attributes they’re looking for are based on a commonly held philosophy. A bad example is when Hoke came into Michigan and Hoke and Borges, the OC, wanted to go back to a power running/”Michigan” offensive style. Yet they had Denard Robinson, certainly one of the most talented and dynamic Big Ten players of the last 50 years (in my opinion). Instead of playing to Denard’s strength they shoehorned Denard into a system that reduced the team’s effectiveness. I’ve seen the current Cats coaches develop a number of very good Big Ten QBs and offenses – while this wasn’t true in 2014 I have to believe they can do it again. We’ll see.

    I also don’t like the anonymous posting on blogs. I think people say things they wouldn’t say if their name was attached. Fortunately, as noted above, this blog has had unbelievable commenters who kept it civil. One reason I kept following and commenting.

    Thanks again Jay!!

  • Bob Parkman

    Best of luck. Good decision. the next decade will go by really fast. Enjoy it.

    We’ll look forward to seeing the rebirth of LTP in the future when you’ve sold your company for millions and your kids are in school at NU!

  • Scott

    Pleasure meeting you and assisting in the Sailgate, which in retrospect strikes me as a perfect microcosm of the NU football program; clever and engaged alums, abject enthusiasm, great atmosphere, the ability to overcome adversity (i.e. broken propeller, a sometimes spotty on-field product), occasionally muttering in your beer while floating home. We were able to experience all of this together because of your nutty enthusiasm, Jay. We loved it, thank you. You are welcome to collect your sapphire martini (with blue cheese olives) any time you find yourself in New York. You have my number. God bless.

    • LTP

      Perhaps my #1 alltime memory. You were the best and i look forward to taking you up on that offer!

  • Steve

    Thanks for everything!

  • MossReport

    Sorry that I did not comment yesterday. I have visited your site daily since I was introduced to it and think that you have done wonders to advance the discussion of athletics at NU and for NU fans. Before LTP, there were a few sights that were periodically updated but nothing consistently like you did with almost daily content. Your work will be missed but as you have said the torch has been passed on to several other sites that provide info and discussion on NU Sports. Hopefully, the powers that be will put you in the NU Alumni Hall of Fame (if there is one).

    We would welcome you in Philadelphia (the home of the 2015 and 2016 NCAA WLAX Championships) if you ever made it here for a visit.

    Go Cats!

  • WildcatInBeantown

    I started reading in the summer of 2008, right before I started my Freshman year at NU, to learn about the history and present state of the athletics programs at my future school. I was (and still am) a huge sports fan but did not know much of anything about NU sports. Your blog was a great introduction to NU athletics and helped lead me to become a diehard NU fan. Thank you so much for your work on the blog, I will miss checking in regularly.

  • mc

    Jay – Thank you. As they would say in radio: “longtime listener, first time caller.” I’ve been with LTP from the very beginning and share much in common. Your story (east coast guy, class of 1995, RTVF) is mine too, including showing up at NU with no idea what big-time college athletics was supposed to mean. I’m sure we bumped shoulders carrying the goalposts into Lake Michigan during Freshman year, not really knowing why we were doing it or even where we were going. It didn’t take long to put the marshmallows down and to embrace what Gary Barnett was preaching in a fireside chat at Willard Hall. Soon I was convinced Len Williams was the best QB in the Big Ten. Expect Victory?!?!? Why not!

    But as an alum, it was hard to find a community outside of Dyche stadium who could understand the pride and love for the team. And when the Rose Bowl hit right after graduation, full addiction took over, and I got on a roller coaster that has been a ton of fun to ride, especially with others! I feel like this puts you and I (and other 90s alums) square in the middle of the fandoms, able to appreciate the Dark Age survivor logic (RELAX! The best record we ever witnessed was 3-8, right?), and the modern “hands in the air” millennial win-now fervor (COME ON! We should expect more from Fitz at this point in his tenure!). So LTP has always “felt” like the best friend possible to me as I sway between moments of shameful resignation and ludicrous jubilation.

    All of that said, you far surpass me in your passion for the sport and I am humbled by your diligence to this blog and your insistence on maintaining the integrity and quality of this forum. If it must end, it must end with the class it has always had. I’m sorry you can’t go on, because as I said, I’m a lurker, I take it all in and by not posting, ensure the relationship remains totally selfish. I am so glad to read that these sorts of tribute posts have meant something to you, and I hope that even one more helps you understand that this blog has meant something to me. You are right to assume those hours with your family are worth more than anything, and you are right to say you don’t get them back. Enjoy the break, enjoy your family, and here’s to continued success with TeamWorks. Go Cats! — mike ciacciarelli

    PS Thanks for mentioning Steve Grogan. In our New Hampshire house we were convinced he didn’t have real bones because how were they not broken every single game? I’m really gonna miss this blog!

  • Loretta8

    Hey LTP,

    This is a bit late, but I wanted to commend you for all the hard work you put into this place. It’s really incredible the sheer volume of quality and content you churned out for so many years, all while balancing a real job and having a family. Dude, I got burnt out after a couple years of NU blogging and for the start of that period I was an underemployed degenerate gambler living with my parents. Now that I’m a (relatively speaking) responsible grown-up with a mortgage and the like, I can’t even fathom the dedication and time you put in.

    You always were, and probably always will be, the gold standard against which other Northwestern blogs are measured. I know I gave you some sh** from time to time when I was writing regularly at Sippin’ on Purple, and you always handled it with more class and dignity than a young upstart jackass like me deserved. Enjoy all the extra time with your family, you’ve earned it. Best of luck to you, wherever life’s journey takes you.

    • LTP

      Thanks Loretta8. Loved Sippin’s stuff. Enjoyed reading your work as well as Rodger’s. I appreciate the note. Indeed, a journey.

  • Alum Dad

    Reading the news of closing down this site has put me in a melancholy mood. I can’t tell you how often I have come here to be in touch with those that are similarly afflicted with a love for NU and high hopes for their athletic endeavors. I will miss your postings. You have touched many, many people through the years. Best of luck to you and your family. Thanks again for everything.

  • CliffG

    Thanks for everything. It’s been good to stay in touch with NU Sports even living far away.

  • NU Cat ’95

    It couldn’t have been too long after the birth of LTP when I first swung through. It’s been a daily (often several times per day) stop ever since. Thanks much to you, Jay, for everything you put into the site.

    And, on behalf of every commenter’s employer, thanks as well. With LTP going dark, workplace productivity amongst LTP readers will likely be on the upswing! All spoils from the forthcoming economic boom should certainly be spent on season tickets in the Wildcat Den, no?

    Go Cats,
    Matt

  • David

    It is sad to see LTP closing up shop. I just returned to Seattle from a business trip to the frozen tundra of South Dakota. This new was every bit as shocking and painful as the -11 temps that I left behind.
    I loved my time at Northwestern. It is a special place. We are an outstanding school first and foremost. After that I want our teams to compete at the highest level they possibly can. However, regardless of record…I am alway proud of the athletes who represent our school. Our athletes are top notch people…who will be champions in life.
    I have always felt that this site is a celebration of all that is good about Northwestern athletics.
    There are many people who have devoted your free time to benefit all of us. I want to thank you for the time, effort and heart that was devoted to this blog.

  • SF Jersey Cat

    Jay,

    I very much appreciate all you have done with LTP. Moving from San Francisco to the North Shore and then back to the Bay area, LTP has kept me connected to the university we love and the sports we are so passionate about.

    My sincerest gratitude and thanks to your understanding wife and kids for allowing you to share your purple passion with us over the years.

  • Xrayize1971

    LTP…thank you thank you thank you for all of your hard work and passion for NU Athletics and NU in general. This is the first site that I look at in the morning and one of the last that I peruse at night. I consider myself a completely biased NU fanatic (band camp before you step foot on campus as a freshman will do that to you) and will bleed purple forever…however, that passion has only increased through the years by reading the blog every day (including the comments). You will be very much missed by everyone. Good luck in the future!!
    GO CATS!!

  • Buckyor

    I’m glad I got to be the guy to introduce you to that Outer Limits episode from June 1995 that predicts a great future for NU football. . . .

  • Smolmania

    Wow, still having trouble processing the fact that LTP is no longer going to be here for my daily Wildcat sports fix. When I gave up baseball after the strike in ’94 I was able to spend an hour a day less reading the sports section. Losing your blog is not something I was ever looking forward to. Thanks LTP/Jay for many, many hours of time well-spent at my computer. You will be missed.

  • Polymersci (aka Jeff Gotro)

    Jay, Thanks for the great ride! I will miss my daily dose of Wildcat Athletics. Since we live in SoCal, the blog has been a great way to keep connected with NU sports. We have 4 NU degrees in the family and another on the way (my daughter is a doctoral student in Physical Therapy at the School of Medicine, remember you posted her wedding picture with the N flag!). We bleed purple and have truly enjoyed your blog and the opportunity to meet you at your tailgate. Best wishes for you and your family. Fully enjoy your kids since before you know it, they will be NU students!

    Well Done!

  • bd8

    Jay/LTP –

    Appreciate all the hard work you have put in thru all the years (as well as your understanding wife).

    Preferred posting here rather than the old SippinOnPurple and now InsideNU since this felt more like a tight knit community.

    LTP holds a special meaning for me since I was with the last group to ever LTP (the admin then cemented the goalsposts).

    Once again, thanks.

  • Wildcat Fan

    Is there anyway you could share all of these comments the last few days with Schapiro or someone at the University? Maybe they would fund a full time person to keep this going. I never realized so many alums spent hours every week like me reading every word you write. There must be some value to the alumni association, NU sports marketing, Medill, the Daily Northwestern …. to keep this going. If not, please be sure to let us know all of our options for blogs, twitter…. although it won’t be the same.
    I ditto the thanks to your wife and family. We would love to have you come to Kansas City.

  • Oh man, this is really bumming me out… Congratulations, LTP, on eight years of fantastic Northwestern blogging. Lake the Posts will always be for me the gold standard of fan content and truly more entertaining to me and my friends than other sports providers with huge media budgets. You consistently hit the sweet spot of what I wanted to read about and you provided criticism in a respectful manner. Your perspective will be deeply missed!

    I’d also like to share an anecdote about what a positive influence you made at Northwestern. In 2013, when the nation’s sports spotlight shined on our Homecoming game, among the senior leadership the comment was made that the groundwork for this enthusiasm began years before on Lake the Posts, and we were all grateful for it.

    Thank you for helping to spread far the name. Go Cats!

  • SoCal Scott

    I feel like I have just lost a very old friend…and I have never met you. You have been that friend that I get to experience NU football with from afar. Few of my classmates care about the Cats like I do; certainly not many in southern California. You had me day one with the name. As I am one of the Class of ’84s that tore down a post, carried it to Bob Strotz house, and then the Lake, I felt an immediate connection with your site. Soon I was reading every day…even in June. I have always admired the way you did not single out athletes for criticism on this blog. Coaches and Administration are professionals and can take it; but student athletes are 18-23 yr old kids representing our school. They deserve the respectful way you delivered both the positive and the negative. I will miss you old friend. Thank you!

  • SoCal Scott

    In honor of Jay’s years of dedicated service to this blog, I propose the readers of this blog lake Jay after the Homecoming game next year. We will find him at his tailgate, carry him on our shoulders to the Lake, and give him a proper and due toss into Lake Michigan.

  • Bruce Slivnick

    Mr. Sharman, i was just an every now and then reader of LTP. Usually, there would be either a game (football, hoops whatever), a recruiting coup and I would ultimately be lead to LTP. Your passion for NU athletics is plain to see and well appreciated. As an alum from 1978, I endured alot of down until 1983 (our 1st NIT visit under Coach Falk) and more down until the magical Rose Bowl season.

    NU fans bleed purple/white and love our ‘Cats under both good and bad circumstances. Why? Frankly because we love Northwestern and everything that it means/meant to us in terms of our own individual experiences. In my opinion, this is what separates College sports from pro sports. For me, its why I generally love College sports more than the pros. (For sake of transparency, I hold my other alma mater, University of Illinois, Champaign in similar high regard for the exact same reasons)

    Over the years, you have expressed love and other emotions for NU athletics. That is something I know we share! For what you have done, thank you for your time and energies! You have made this a better Wildcat world through your efforts!

  • NU TC in Wilmette

    Thanks for many years of great content. I laked the posts after a game in 1984, and your site made my internet favorites list as soon as I heard about it. Thereafter, your site served as a regular click for many years (I even contributed when you reminded us). You and I have not met, but I regularly appreciated your detailed information prior to games and took comfort in reading the post-game content which often validated or completed my gameday experiences. I hope that you know that quality content which reflects your passion will always be appreciated, regardless of the topic. Good luck.

  • WildCatAuD

    Thanks for all the great years LTP. I came to NU as a graduate student in 2004 from the great state of Ohio, being brought up watching Big Ten Football, mainly OSU. I wasn’t a fan in any way, shape, or form a fan of OSU, and actually went to THE Ohio University (we can drink any buckeye under the table). I was at NU when Coach Walk passed away and when FItz took over, and then came LTP.

    I was there in 2004 when the Cats took down the Bucks and I was instantly a Wildcat for life. I ended up marrying an avid Hawkeye fan and have had the honor of seeing many a NU win in Kinnick.

    So a long story short, a large part of me bleeding purple is because of this site. Thanks for that. Good luck in the future and GO ‘CATS!