How the game is played

I’ve said, time and again, that football is not my game. And yet I continue writing about it, at least when it comes to the Northwestern Wildcats. But I have earned the right to celebrate their success, too, because I never actually thought I would see any. And yet here it is. Thanks. Pat Fitzgerald, for making it happen.

The game goes like this: Northwestern is ranked #16 in one poll, and #17 in another. Their names don’t really matter much, at least not to me. There are 15 (or 16, depending on the poll) teams that I will be watching this weekend. I hope that every last one of them will lose, but I know that won’t happen. One or two of them might, and that’s good enough at this point.

Until Northwestern loses a game, they’ll climb in the rankings ahead of the teams that lose this weekend. They won’t pass whoever loses the Alabama-Texas A&M game, because those teams are in the top 10 and NU isn’t there yet. But every team ranked from about 9 through 15 (or 16, depending on the poll) is subject to being passed, if Northwestern wins. And as I write this, UCLA appears to be on the road to defeat. Go Cornhuskers!

This process will continue again until Northwestern loses a game. So it’s a matter of win on the field, and watch your ranking rise as a result. Until (and maybe unless?) they lose a game. but we;ll worry about that when (or if?) it happens.

Until then,

Go Cats!

Doing it the right way

September brings the return of football season. Baseball had the sporting world to itself in July and August (with the exception of the Olympics and a few sports that not too many people care about), but those days are gone now.

Yesterday was September 1, and football season began with college games. The NFL, which I stopped caring about in the late 1980s, starts play next weekend. But for now, there’s football in the air, for the first time since the end of the Super Bowl many months ago.

The only college team I can get worked up over is my alma mater, the Northwestern Wildcats. When I was at school there in the late 1980s, they were as terrible as a football team could be. The marshmallow fights that raged in the student section during the games were more interesting than anything on the field. Jangling your keys during a kickoff (and there were many of them during a typical game) was a chance to participate in the action in some small way. And I can’t remember which team’s fans started laughing at our team’s ineptitude after running a long touchdown play, but it really doesn’t matter which one it was. Hearing their laughter in the first place was bad enough.

In the four years that I was an undergraduate, the football team won eight games. Eight wins is a disappointing year for some football teams, but that’s all I got to see in four years. Two of those wins came against Illinois, so it’s not all bad, I suppose.

Things have improved dramatically since then, starting in 1995. Pat Fitzgerald will be around as the coach for many years to come, and he’ll keep the football program moving in a direction that’s both competitive on the field and successful in the classroom. He’ll make sure that the “student” part of student-athlete comes first, as it should be.

So playing, and winning, a road game against Syracuse yesterday was the best start to a season that can be anticipated. It was apparently an exciting, even thrilling, game to watch, but I was out with my family and have to learn about it through second-hand accounts in the news. Win or lose, I’m proud to be affiliated with a school that does it the right way in college football. Now bring on Vanderbilt!