When you think great football, you don’t usually think Northwestern. As an NU alum & fan, I’ve sat through my fair share of woeful Wildcat seasons. But things are looking up for the perennial Big Ten basement dwellers. We have a young & exciting coach in Pat Fitzgerald. We just completed a surprising 9-4 season with yet another bowl game appearance - and we almost won it this time. (Damn Missouri.)
And now NU AD Jim Phillips has come up with a great idea to bring further fun & exposure to a pigskin program on the rise: Play a game against rival Illinois at Wrigley Field.
The Friendly Confines proved to be a fabulous success hosting the outdoor NHL Winter Classic between the Blackhawks & Red Wings. And even more so, the Bears called 1060 W. Addison home for many, many years until settling at Soldier Field.
With so many Wildcat & Illini alums in the Chicago area, and the opportunity to attend a football contest inside such a historic venue, the game would most certainly be a guaranteed sellout.
But there’s only one problem - Illinois doesn’t want to do it.
Mike Imrem of the DAILY HERALD tries to get an explanation as to why the folks down in Champaign are reluctant to strap on the pads at Wrigley:
“…perhaps (Illinois) fears the ghosts of the 1-13 record the Bears once suffered through in Wrigley. This is how a Chicago newspaper quoted an Illini athletics spokesman, presumably after talking to AD Ron Guenther: “We haven’t put a lot of thought into a Chicago game.”
What’s to think about? Something is wrong if Illinois isn’t excited about the chance to play in Wrigley Field. The newspaper story went on to indicate Illinois’ “top priority is to decide whether it will continue to play Missouri in St. Louis.”
So it would seem the Illini alumni in St. Louis matter more than all the grads in the Windy City. This is the University of Illinois, right? And last time I checked, Chicago hasn’t been annexed by Indiana or Wisconsin.
Of course, I think it’s because Illinois is afraid to lose to Northwestern. Besides, they’re probably still upset over losing the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy for the very last time.
To all those U of I administrators who scoff at the idea of facing the ‘Cats at the ol’ ballpark, I say to you,”Buck-buck-buck BRRRRAWWWWWK!”