Before we dive in to the main post for the day, I promised some follow-ups from yesterday and I want to ensure that I get to them. So, let’s get through the housekeeping:
‘Cats Spring Game Big Ten Network Coverage
I know all of you that are in the area will be making it to the Spring Game on Saturday. But for those displaced ‘Cats fans, good news. The Big Ten Network is all over it. The game will be streamed live on www.BigTenNetwork.com at 1 pm et/12pm ct. That night the BTN crew of Revsine, Dinardo and Griffith will be hosting Big Ten Spring Football Report at 8pm et/7pm ct on BTN. Additionally, the ‘Cats Spring Game will be telecast Monday April 18 on the BTN at 8pm et/7pm ct. Former ‘Cat QB Brett Basanez and Ted Albrecht will be assigned co-hosting duties. Baz has a gift at the mic and is fun to listen to while Ted, well, if you don’t have anything nice to say…
Congratulations to Northwestern women’s hoopster, Amy Jaeschke, who became the first Wildcat to be drafted in the WNBA yesterday. The honorable mention All-American was selected by the hometown Chicago Sky with the 27th overall pick (3rd round). She was the fourth pick in the draft by the Chicago Sky. For a full report click here and read the coverage at www.nusports.com.
Fitz has said every spot is up for grabs on defense. Well, we know with relative certainty that DE Vince Browne (who racked-up another preseason award with a spot on the Go Daddy.com All-America list last week) and CB Jordan Mabin are locks. But, I’ll be interested to key on the secondary on Saturday. Jeravin Matthews seems to have earned a starting spot opposite Mabin and you’ve got to figure Brian Peters is in the driver’s seat at one safety spot. The other safety spot s seems to be up for grabs still. A host of guys like David Arnold, Jared Carpenter have game experience and are battling. Plus a guy like RS Fr Ibraheim Campbell has been making noise in the secondary. I feel with LB Ben Johnson on crutches and several others dinged up the LB corps is still the most wide open unit. You can bank on the fact that the defensive roster will not be resolved at the conclusion of spring practice. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the starting lineup for BC, but knowing Fitz and Hank, the starter tag is just that, and you can bet we’ll be rotating quite a few guys in to game situations early. What are you honing in on for Saturday?
This Sun-Times article by Tina Akouris certainly didn’t break any new news on NU marketing. However, it is a concise piece to encapsulate the impact of year one with a proactive campaign and a slightly above average on field product did. It can also be a recruiting tool for us to send to our respective friends about the up arrow in buzz at NU.
Back to the main post…
Ahh, statues. Is it me or is the trend du jour creating statues for sports figures? As a kid, I always associated statues in a Sixth Sense sort of way – I associated them with dead people. Yet, in the past month, I’ve been bombarded with news articles and photo ops that include quite the opposite – tributes to recently retired players. Scottie Pippen got his buzz-generating bronze replica at a Bulls game a couple weeks ago. The Cubs will unveil a Ron Santo statue on August 10 and are quickly running out of real estate and/or corners to pay homage to greats. Teddy Greenstein recently had an entertaining Q&A with Nebraska AD, Tom Osborne, who admitted to being embarassed by walking by it every day and wished he had a way to make it pop in the ground when he walked by, but yet was accessible to fans when they wanted it. Then, this weekend, the unveiling of three statues at Florida to honor Heisman trophy winners Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow caught my eye. Turns out, it was Tebow’s eye that generated buzz as the detail of the sculpture included his famous ode to scripture with the “John 3:16” in the eye black. I did a double-take as the erection of statues in honor of a 20-something made me realize that we’re in a new age of tributes. Doesn’t there need to be some adherence to an unwritten rule of a tad bit of time before we start putting up permanent tributes? I realize Tebow will likely go down as one of the greatest college football players ever, but c’mon.
Darren Everson of the WSJ went down this exact path last fall. In this article he takes the same tone I’m taking (or I should say vice versa) as he incredulously inquired to how low the bar has become for statue-worthy subjects. Jason White at Oklahoma has one and yet still looks as though he can’t grow a beard. A Sam Bradford one is soon to be revealed. Nick Saban got one for winning a national title and I hope they have it with wheels, as the carpet-bagging coach will sure to be somewhere else soon, likely when NCAA sanctions come to town.
I’m old school in this regard. If Dan Persa were to do something like win the Heisman in 2011 I’d advocate we wait at LEAST until he gets elected in to his own school’s HOF which has a minimum five year wait period from the completion of graduation. However, the statute on statues did cause me to really think about the imminent stadium renovations I’m expecting. You can bet that any plans for a facelift to Ryan Field include some type of grander entrance or approach. I can’t think of a stadium in Big Ten country that doesn’t have a welcoming entrance/facade that is the go-to meeting spot. These areas are usually homages to the past and include a statue. Northwestern’s only bronze bust in and around Ryan Field is the venerable Wildcat statue that is perched in the south end zone. So, who should get the immortalization treatment when we do renovate?
I have two and only two to date. The first would be Otto Graham. He’s unquestionably the most decorated athlete in NU Athletics’ history and worthy of a stadium name. His collegiate exploits were incredible as a multi-sport and musical star. His post-collegiate career only enhanced the undergraduate feats as the man played 11 years at the professional level (one year of pro ball in which the Rochester Royals won the pro hoops title) and was in the championship every single season, winning eight titles. He was back-to-back pro football MVP (’47, ’48) and widely regarded as one of the best NFL QBs of all-time. The man’s jersey isn’t even retired at Northwestern! I think it is time we package up the tribute to Otto around the new stadium renovation, build the Otto Graham plaza (heck, I’d name the stadium after him unless someone helps foot the bill for the potentially massive overhaul), put up a statue and retire his #48 and call it a day. I wonder if junior LB Roderick Goodlow has any idea about the history of the number he is wearing this season?
The only other statue I would cast would be in honor of Gary Barnett. Let’s cut to the chase. Barnett’s tarnished legacy at Colorado where alleged recruiting trip improprieties occurred by his staff on his watch and a dumb comment about a female placekicker have zero to do with Northwestern. In Barnett’s time at Northwestern he proved to do what was said to be impossible. Barnett is the Herb Brooks of college football in my mind. Based on the constant influx of CFB scandals that are daily newswire material, I’m still stunned at the seemingly blackball treatment GB received. I’m not condoning the ethics of his staff/players at Colorado, but something is a tad off in the ending to the whole story. Barnett was everything you could’ve ever wanted at Northwestern. He turned an entire culture around, celebrated academic achievement and was a stellar representative for the school.
Sure, Gary sniffed at several of the high profile jobs like Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas when they came knocking. How is that any different than 99% of the current major DI coaches? In my mind, none of this takes away what he did at Northwestern. There would be no potential capital campaign for athletics today if not for Gary Barnett. Just do yourself a favor and try finishing the following open ended sentences. “If not for Gary Barnett, Northwestern would not….” OK, I’ll see you in a couple of days. It will take that long. Barnett is STILL a factor at Northwestern as he is one of Fitz’s confidents. I still connect with him about once a year and every correspondence comes with one major caveat from him – “I only want to be involved in things that benefit Northwestern and put the best light on the program”. It is a no-brainer to me that Gary should have his due at Northwestern and is more than statue worthy. The statute on statue time is due.
As for Fitz, well, I think we’re likely all aligned on this one. Wait. Wait a long time. No one is denying Fitz was a critical part of Barnett’s turnaround at Northwestern. Also, there is no denying he is the face of our university and an incredible representative as he is the island of integrity in a sea of college football sharks. The program is definitely in the right direction and hovering in above-average consistency territory. , However, to be statue worthy, I believe in time. Fitz is hopefully a lifer at NU, but bowl championships and Big Ten titles are what separate the statue worthy from the pack. Granted, if Fitz is at the helm in 25 years, time plays a role as well. He might only win one or two Big Ten Championships in that tenure, but assuming we’re winning games and doing it the right way, I’ll be the torch bearer for cementing his legacy literally – in bronze.
There are others that will be worthy down the road. Kelly Amonte-Hiller is a pioneer of a sport and upon retirement from NU she should have one. No doubt about it. I’m sure you’ll offer some up that I’m not thinking of right now, but the recent barrage of bronze tributes led me to this topic and I net out with only two statues I’d unveil as part of a Ryan Field renovation. Let’s hear what you have to say.
The poll results are in and it was one of our alltime landslides. Check it out…
LTP Poll Question:
How Do You Feel About Potential 12pm ct Start Times This Fall?
Total Voters: 255