THE JON ROTHSTEIN ALMANAC: 2016-2017

THE JON ROTHSTEIN ALMANAC: 2016-2017

Jon Rothstein is my favorite person.

No one cares as much about anything as Jon Rothstein cares about college basketball. He has watched more basketball this week than I have watched in my life. He knows more about the NEC than anyone with a national byline should ever know, and it’s very cool. Some of his takes are bad (THE GRADUATE TRANSFER APOCALYPSE) but some of them are, actually, very good. I respect the hell out of him.

Also, he’s bad at Twitter.

For the uninitiated, Jon Rothstein will tweet the same metaphor about a team/coach/program/player roughly a billion times. I’ve gone over in my head why exactly this is true. I hope that at this point he is self parodying. More likely, he’s just so sold on these metaphors being good that he thinks that tweeting them for the 800th time is actually good. I can relate because my online brand consists of roughly two jokes just repurposed for different scenarios and it’s fun.

Rodger Sherman wrote about ROTHSTEINISMS™ last year, focusing on basically 5 tropes: “So much ___ in ___,” “Death, taxes, ___,” “This is March,” “Where the unexpected becomes the ordinary,” and a Shakespeare quote.

These are but the tip of the iceberg.

Odds are, if Jon Rothstein has tweeted something, he’s tweeted it many times before. Consider this piece to be edition one of the almanac of Rothstein. 2016 saw the birth of many wonderful Rothsteinisms and the reemergence of many more. I won’t be including every instance of every ROTHSTEINISM™ because the internet does not have the storage space to hold that much data.

Lord help us all.

“Stay hungry, stay humble.”

Jon Rothstein begins every day Online by tweeting this quote. It is the OG ROTHSTEINISM™ and should be respected as such.

This is the first time Rothstein ever tweeted the now famous phrase. However, it wouldn’t become a daily phrase until June of that year.

For the better part of 4 years now, Jon Rothstein has tweeted out the same quote virtually every day. The dedication is remarkable.

FIRST USED: January, 2012
TIMES USED: Incalculable, at least 1,000
STATUS: Active

“The door is open for Elijah”

I do not know who Elijah is. I found this trope by accident. It’s true that Rothstein uses the phrase “the door is open” really frequently but so does everyone else. For some reason though, in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the door was specifically open for “Elijah.” Apparently, this is a reference to Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson while combining it with a Cup of Elijah reference. A deep cut, and a good one.

FIRST USED: March, 2012
TIMES USED: 3
CURRENT STATUS: Retired

“Everything comes to he who hustles while he waits”

After his daily “stay hungry, stay humble,” Rothstein tweets an inspirational quote. One of his favorites, is this one from Thomas Edison.

FIRST USED: November, 2010
TIMES USED: 65.
CURRENT STATUS: Active

“This is only _____”

This is one that has only made the lexicon once the more familiar “This is March” was popularized and spread across the internet. College basketball is a wild sport, not just in March, and thus, Jon Rothstein has changed his go-to phrase to fit with the times.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“College basketball NEVER disappoints”

It might be a hair early to call this a ROTHSTEINISM™, but I’m willing to pull the trigger on it. Two uses, including the all caps “NEVER,” within the last few weeks including a high engagement tweet makes me think we’re going to see this a lot more. It’s in beta testing for now.

FIRST USED: December, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Omaha. Somewhere in Middle America.”

Another 2016 ROTHSTEINISM™. Creighton is in Omaha. Which, in case you were unaware, is somewhere in Middle America.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 6
STATUS: Active

“Virginia Basketball. A Thing of Beauty.”

This is the biggest lie ever propagated. Virginia basketball is ugly as sin and scoring 50 points and winning should not ever be normalized. But, hey, if watching paint dry is your thing…

FIRST USED: February, 2015
TIMES USED: 31
STATUS: Active

“Palpable Buzz”

There’s a case to be made for including “Palpable buzz” on the Rothstein Mt. Rushmore, right next to “This is March” and “Death, Taxes.” It’s been used for five years with alarming frequency. This is also one of the phrases that is probably being self-parodied at this point.

FIRST USED: December, 2011
TIMES USED: 189
STATUS: Active

“Chris Mack: Stone Cold”

Stone Cold Steven Austin apparently has nothing on Chris Mack, who is stone cold.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“This is college basketball folks.”

A variant off the “This is March” theme, but different enough to deserve its own spot. Folks,,.

FIRST USED: November, 2015
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“Villanova is like a Fortune 500 Company. It runs itself.”

I’m not sure how true this is, but I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth Holmes could run IBM into the ground in, like, 7 months.

FIRST USED: November, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Change is the law of life.”

Another “Quote of the Day” special, with one exception.

FIRST USED: December, 2014
TIMES USED: 18
STATUS: Active

“There are many ways of going forward…”

QOTD addition.

FIRST USED: August, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“The epitome of brutality”

Lose a game where you paid a team to come and take you on? Buddy.

FIRST USED: October, 2015
TIMES USED: 34
STATUS: Active

“Greg Gard: Silent Assassin”

My favorite assassins are the ones who scream into their phone and wear a suit of metal armor.

FIRST USED: February, 2016
TIMES USED: 16
STATUS: Active

“More life altering than a 10-day trip to Europe.”

Jon really likes VCU home games.

FIRST USED: February, 2016
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“Fills mortar between bricks”

In development this season. Stay tuned.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Blame nobody. Expect nothing. Do something.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: November, 2014
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

Angel Delgado is actually Jerry Seinfeld

Double-doubles are like residual checks.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“No other words are needed”

See above.

FIRST USED: December, 2014
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“Victory is in the struggle.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: September, 2011
TIMES USED: 94
STATUS: Active

Gary Clark is a problem

It’s a compliment.

FIRST USED: January, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Never miss the opportunity to say nothing.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: February, 2013
TIMES USED: 59
STATUS: Active

“West Virginia basketball. Tougher than a long weekend at your in-laws.”

#PRESSVIRGINIA

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2016
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

Deveptively old.

I really don’t get this one.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

Jon is a big Frank Ocean Guy.

FIRST USED: September, 2015
TIMES USED: 11
STATUS: Active

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2015
TIMES USED: 11
STATUS: Active

The Butler Way.

Looking at the new pithy Butler-ism.

FIRST USED: December, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: In development

“Lonzo Ball is like the The Godfather Epic.”

You forget a third of it ever happened?

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: August, 2014
TIMES USED: 21
STATUS: Active

“And here we go.”

[Very Heath Ledger Joker voice]

FIRST USED: February, 2010
TIMES USED: 75
STATUS: Active

“The brighter the lights, the darker the shadows.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 14
STATUS: Active

Appointment Television

Lots of teams have earned the distinction.

FIRST USED: February, 2015
TIMES USED: 18
STATUS: Active

“If people are going out of their way to tell you what you’re doing wrong then you’re doing a lot of things right.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2016
TIMES USED: 12
STATUS: Active

“I do not like to repeat successes, I like to go on to other things.”

QOTD and probably the most ironic thing ever tweeted.

FIRST USED: August, 2016
TIMES USED: 5
STATUS: Active

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2015
TIMES USED: 22
STATUS: Active

“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: July, 2016
TIMES USED: 7
STATUS: Active

“The epitome of efficiency”

Much like the epitome of brutality, but good.

FIRST USED: January, 2014
TIMES USED: 14
STATUS: Active

“The will to win is useless without the will to prepare to win.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: April, 2012
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“Leopards don’t change their spots.”

This one might be unfair, but I’m not really sure Rothstein ever uses the phrase quite right.

FIRST USED: February, 2011
TIMES USED: 4
STATUS: Active

“Work ethic eliminates fear.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: October, 2015
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

“Without struggle, there is no progress.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: May, 2013
TIMES USED: 33
STATUS: Active

“TSA Precheck. Life altering.”

Can confirm.

FIRST USED: July, 2014
TIMES USED: 33
STATUS: Active

Bryant McIntosh = Aaron Craft

Two pass first, white point guards. First time I’ve heard that comparison.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Emptying the chamber in to Georgia Tech

I’m not sure what it is, but Jon Rothstein is not nice to Georgia Tech. All preseason he was singing the praises of all the teams he saw and then did this to Georgia Tech.

It wasn’t the end of it. Even the nice things he says have more than a tinge of backhanded-ness to them.

Keep an eye on it.

FIRST USED: October, 2016
TIMES USED: 2? 3? Hard to say.
STATUS: Dormant?

“Arduous” tasks/slates

The default “this team has a tough schedule” descriptor.

FIRST USED: October, 2012
TIMES USED: 20
STATUS: Active

Brent Stover is not on Twitter.

FYI.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: May, 2015
TIMES USED: 8
STATUS: Active

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: September, 2015
TIMES USED: 13
STATUS: Active

“No words.”

Pretty much.

FIRST USED: June, 2014
TIMES USED: 15
STATUS: Active

Noted Stock Broker Jon Rothstein

In all seriousness, his hit rate is really good.

FIRST USED: December, 2012
TIMES USED: 31
STATUS: Active

Mr. Intangibles

A new man has taken the crown.

FIRST USED: June, 2013
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Flat out studs.

Featuring some guys.

FIRST USED: February, 2011
TIMES USED: 6
STATUS: Active

“Whatever “it” is, he has.”

Still feel like this is missing a word.

FIRST USED: December, 2015
TIMES USED: 5
STATUS: Active

“More focused than Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.”

Rothstein was ready to go all in on this one but then Rhode Island went and got hurt/bad.

FIRST USED: November, 2016
TIMES USED: 2
STATUS: Retired

Don’t bet against Mike Brey.

Otherwise you’ll get your head kicked in.

FIRST USED: July, 2016
TIMES USED: 3
STATUS: Active

Summon Colonel Jessup

IT’S A CODE RED

FIRST USED: January, 2011
TIMES USED: 9
STATUS: Active

“The dogs bark, but the caravan marches on.”

QOTD.

FIRST USED: January, 2014
TIMES USED: 68
STATUS: Active

Your favorite team/coach is a Rubik’s Cube

The reasons why change.

FIRST USED: August, 2013
TIMES USED: 10
STATUS: Active

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”

QOTD.

FIST USED: March, 2015
TIMES USED: 7
STATUS: Active

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My application to be the offensive coordinator at the Rutger

My application to be the offensive coordinator at the Rutger

There is a time and place for everything. This morning, a good friend who lives in New Jersey forwarded me an application to be the assistant head coach at Rutgers University. Strange that someone from New Jersey sent it to me considering the Rutger is at the heart of New York City. Rutgers recently lost its offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer to Texas, and the school is looking for a replacement.

WELL LOOK NO FURTHER! We’re going all the way to the Garden State!

After my unsuccessful bid to be the head coach of Wisconsin, I figure being the offensive coordinator for the Rutger football team should be an easier job to get. After all, they had the worst offense in the Big Ten and were shut out on four separate occasions. It’s Rutger. You know, the salt of the earth? The school that loses money on athletics every year?

Okay, let’s go looking for the online portal. Huh, this is confusing. What does the tutorial page look like?

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-31-17-am

Oh cool, it’s a picture of a garbage fire with the Rutgers logo on it because the page is under construction. You can’t make this stuff up folks. That tutorial page was no help, but I decided to write a cover letter and resumé anyway.

Here is what I came up with:

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-59-07-am screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-12-18-02-pm

I think this is going to go well!

FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER IN CASE YOU CAN’T READ IT:

Dear Mr. Head Coach of the Rutger.

Hallowed be thy name. I apply for this job not out of spite or pity, but from a feeling that goes beyond spite and pity and enters the Theatre of the Absurd. For my entire life, I have observed Rutger from afar, breathing it, studying it, and failing to understand it. I have written articles for insidenu.com, an esteemed college football site, about the Rutger football boys. As a sportswriter at Northwestern, I know the B1Ggest conference in the land very well.

I have studied the tape of the Rutger’s numerous losses. I have watched the Scarlet Knights fall to every Big Ten opponent. I have seen Chris Laviano and Giovanni Rescigno fight valiantly, only to collapse under the pressure. I understand your offense has been bad. Scoring zero points four times in a season is not good. Losing the final nine games of the season is not good.

Frankly, you need an offensive coordinator who can shake things up. I have no football coaching experience and I ran cross-country in high school. I am 140 pounds and would be athletically destroyed by most of your players. But I have sat on my couch to watch football for nearly 75 percent of my life, and because I write about the sport on a daily basis in the fall, I believe I am totally qualified to become your offensive coordinator. I mean, who could do a worse job than the last guy? It’s also a chance to hire a Korean-American offensive coordinator and increase diversity.

I eagerly await your reply and for you to ignore this beneath a stack of actually qualified applicants. But just know that, of all the people who apply, I truly want to make Rutger great again.

Sincerely,

Tristan Jung

They sent me an email already:

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-12-26-58-pm

All Quiet on the Maryland Shore

All Quiet on the Maryland Shore

Across the world, there are spots of earth that have witnessed incredible, mechanic levels of death and destruction. In valleys long since gone quiet, if you listen closely enough, you can still hear the gunshots. If you pay close enough attention, you can still smell the smoke.

On a field in a otherwise unremarkable Pennsylvania town, thousands of men in gray stretched a mile wide to advance three-quarters of a mile towards an impregnable line of artillery and muskets. Across Italy and Northern Africa, Romans and Carthaginians cut each other to shreds. And in the Crimea, a band of some 600 cavalrymen were sent on a frontal assault against heavy artillery, all because someone misinterpreted an order.

There is a tendency to ascribe meaning to these encounters, to speak of the heroism and the unflinching bravery of the men sent into hopeless situations. But there’s a reason this refrain from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” stands out from the rest of the poem:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.

Because there is no nobility in throwing human death and suffering at a lost cause. Ascribing meaning to being torn asunder by a hailstorm of lead obscurers the utter banality. Those walking beneath the stars and bars on that July morning, those Romans who first realized they had been encircled at Cannae, those 600 cavalrymen riding through that valley in Balaclava all had one thing in common: they were about to die for the crime of following ill informed orders.

Some defeats are achieved through poor planning. Some poor strategy. Some bad luck. But the hardest to accept are those where the gulf in strength is too vast for any amount of strategy or skill to overcome. Someone high up on the chain of command looked at the overwhelming force standing across from their beleaguered group and thought “Aye, forward it is then.”


Bluefield State women’s basketball went 2-23 last season in Division II. Five times they lost by fifty or more points. They were doubled-up more times than they won. They averaged 27 turnovers a game. They averaged just 19 made field goals a game. Bluefield State is a phenomenally interesting school. A Historically Black College that is now 90% white, there is a great deal about the school other than it’s basketball program that warrants discussion. But unfortunately, this is not the time nor the place, because Bluefield State was placed directly underneath the treads of a behemoth.

Maryland women’s basketball went 31-4 last season. They return from that team the best player in the Big Ten Conference, the best center in the conference, and the best three-point specialist in the conference. They also added five top-100 recruits, the best class in the entire nation. With such a glut of talent and few mouths to feed, every Terrapin outside of the major stars will be fighting for playing time throughout the season. They are a hungry and fiendishly talented group. And they are coached by a monster.

Brenda Freese probably does not care if you live or die. Brenda Freese probably does not care about much of anything that isn’t the 28.5-inch sphere and the 4700 square feet of hardwood on which that sphere bounces. Brenda Freese wins basketball games three times more often than she loses them, and she usually wins by a lot of points. To her, opponents are nothing more than folding chairs with jerseys draped on them. No matter what, Maryland will run its sets, run its press, and keep scoring until the final buzzer sounds. They will break you. And then they will get ready to do it again.

Bluefield State accepted Maryland’s invitation to play an exhibition game, probably for the paycheck it promised. Then it sent its players into the Somme armed with a butter knife and hide armor doused in gasoline.

Bluefield State has two non-freshmen on its roster.

Maryland has two All-Americans.

Bluefield State has ten players on its roster.

Maryland has more than ten top-100 recruits on its roster.

There was never any hope. Hope got hit by a cannonball before the charge even started.

The box score reads like a description of eternal punishment in a circle of Dante’s Inferno. Maryland closed the game on a 78-0 run. Bluefield State didn’t score for the entire second half of the game. Bluefield State had more turnovers (51) than field goal attempts and foul shots combined (39). It was a beatdown of biblical proportions. Three different Terrapins outscored the entire Bluefield State roster. Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 20 points. In 13 minutes.

Brenda Freese looked across the hellish landscape she had created on that floor in College Park. And it was good.  The bodies were laid waste in front of her affirmed her. She picked a virginal target to test the power of the doomsday weapon she wields. She received a haunting answer. And it was good.


Somewhere in the maelstrom of Under Armour insignias and crimson, there was Bluefield State’s Maggie Tien. Her teammates were a cataclysm of failure scattered around her. Her running mate Rosalie Pozo turned the ball over 10 times en route to a plus/minus of -159. Knee deep in the carcasses of her comrades, Maggie Tien, just a freshman on a Division II team from West Virginia, was elevated to the role of a superstar. She scored 11 points on an entirely respectable 4/11 shooting performance. She turned it over just three times. She stayed out of foul trouble. She belonged amongst the team of immortals across from her. She ascended.

Yet on the whole of the Bluefield State website, there is no evidence she even saw the court. It was a Herculean effort that will be soon buried by the sands of time. Because there is no nobility in being torn apart in pursuit of a hopeless cause.

I miss Jason Heyward being good/Game 6 preview

I miss Jason Heyward being good/Game 6 preview

Jason Heyward used to be really good. He used to have a 120 wRC+ with defense like this.

That isn’t even a great example of his range, but it ruined the chance for a Mets win, so I will never forget it.

When Jason Heyward played for the Braves, I hated going against him. He was the type of outfield prospect that the Mets could never develop, a two-way position player that anyone could build a team around. I was thrilled when the Braves shipped him to St. Louis, and I was totally okay with the Cubs’ huge contract offer in the 2015 offseason.

Now, with calls for Heyward to ride the bench for key moments of the Cubs’ World Series run, I don’t really understand what happened. The dude put up 27.6 fWAR in about 5 seasons. He was a legitimate superstar, particularly on defense, for the entirety of the 2010s. And now he’s a defensive replacement. He’s only 27. I don’t understand.

Also, he’s been quite good during this series, making big catches and coming up with some hits.

The defense is still there, but Cubs fans have been clamoring for Heyward’s benching because his bat has gone silent in 2016. The reasons are fairly obvious. His BABIP has cratered. His hard contact percentage is tied for a career-low (and would be lower if the postseason were included). His home run to fly ball rate has also collapsed to just 4.8 percent, a number that stems a combination of awful contact and bad luck. His OPS has dropped 166 points. I think he might have a nagging injury, but that’s just speculation.

I hope that Jason Heyward has a bounceback year in 2016, not because the Cubs need it to make the playoffs (they most certainly don’t), but because the game needs Jason Heyward to be good again. This was his big chance to become a national star with the Cubs, and he’s been completely overshadowed.


The Cubs should win Game 6 of the World Series. Josh Tomlin is inevitably going to slip, and the Cubs must jump on him early. Arrieta has to be mid-2015 Arrieta and not the merely decent pitcher he’s been recently. That’s all the analysis you really need.

The deep historical implications of this baseball game are more fascinating. This is already shaping up to be the most-remembered World Series of the decade since 2011, and the TV ratings back that up. With the Cubs notching a huge win at Wrigley, this Game 6 is the most-important game in baseball since the “David Freese game”, and is quite honestly one of the most compelling baseball moments I can remember.

If Francona and the Indians win, he cements his status as a future Hall of Fame manager, and the MLB gets a small-market champion for the second year in a row. Even more importantly, the MLB will get a “true saber” small-market champion, a long-awaited victory for the “analytics establishment”. Cleveland will also go crazy. Again.

For the Cubs, this game means more than the last 71 years combined. If you watched the Cubs fans singing “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley on Sunday, you can see that these games are the most personally meaningful sporting events that most people in the crowd have seen. Having rooted for a team in the World Series, but not been around for that long, I can’t really imagine what these games are like.

I’m very excited. Game 6s are usually insane.

Northwestern vs. Ohio State, a serious and self-parodically high-brow preview

Northwestern vs. Ohio State, a serious and self-parodically high-brow preview

“Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you ?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall.”

-Bob Dylan,”Like a Rolling Stone”, Highway 61 Revisited 

Those branches of the night and day
Where the gaudy moon is hung.
What’s the meaning of all song?
‘Let all things pass away.’

-William Butler Yeats, “Vacillation”

It’s 3:30 pm in Columbus, Ohio as Anthony Walker Jr. takes the field yet again. Once upon a time he would have left his headphones in the locker room, but today he carries his headset onto the field. Under Walker’s leadership, the Northwestern Wildcats are 7-0 and heading into a potentially difficult matchup against a 3-4 Ohio State team. Three straight trips to a New Year’s Six Bowl and direct entry into the 8-team College Football Playoff had left Walker, at age 47, the most sought-after coach in college football.

But for now, as he walks into the Shoe for yet another Big Ten football game, he can only think about schemes, special teams and forgotten dreams. The air rustles with cheering Ohioans. The autumn winds circle through the stadium and skitter down through Walker’s feet. He runs, like he once did as a player, onto the field. Unlike those halcyon days, there are a chorus of boos, as Northwestern has won six consecutive meetings against the Buckeyes and shows no sign of letting that streak lapse.

The offense starts off with a clinical opening touchdown drive. Harlan Carr, the second-generation Northwestern wide receiver, catches a five-yard pass for a score. Ohio State gets two first downs but the drive stalls at midfield and the Buckeyes punt. Northwestern makes it to the OSU 27 on the next drive and drills a field goal. The Ohio State fans groan.

By halftime, the score is 24-10, and No. 3 Northwestern is rolling toward yet another victory. The Wildcats successfully run seven speed options in a row after Ohio State pulls within seven points midway through the third. After an Buckeye interception, Northwestern immediately cashes in on a 36-yard touchdown strike to Carr, which puts Northwestern up 38-17. The fourth quarter is a defensive struggle. On a last desperation drive, Ohio State’s right guard is called for holding penalty in the end zone and Northwestern picks up a safety.


During a Roman triumph, the victorious general in question would march through the city followed by an enormous parade. And yet, in the midst of all the pomp and circumstance, he would have a slave follow him and repeatedly say “memento mori/remember that you will die”, in order to keep the general humble to the gods.

College football has no such tradition. Humility, in the American tradition, is best left at the doorstep alongside notions of universal health care and non-refrigerated eggs. No one ever told Joe Paterno “memento mori”. No one ever told Art Briles to take a step back and examine what his success entailed. No one told Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow, after their second national title, that they were mortal and success could be fleeting. It’s just not how college football works.

The Northwestern vs. Ohio State game in Columbus will have all the trappings of a Roman triumph, but no reminder of “memento mori”. Football is no fun when the experts remind us of its dangers. Football is no fun when college seniors retire due to repeated head injuries. Football, like all sports, is an effort to forget about mortality, which makes the pervasive kudzu of “memento mori” in sports all the more sad.

And yet we play on.

But mortality is not only measured in life or death. Mortality is the first metaphor, the reality that we can morph into any failure or preordained closure from the genesis of our mental capacities. And of course, dynasties can die. There will be a day when Ohio State will be bad for an extended period of time. It’s statistically inevitable. There will also be a day in which Northwestern is one of the best teams in the country. The variance of a twelve-game college football season ensures that.

Just look at the University of Michigan. How could that team ever be bad? I thought that once upon a time during the “Game of the Century” against Ohio State in 2006. Then Lloyd Carr retired, the Wolverines hired Rich Rodriguez, and they went 15-22 between 2008-2010. In the course of college football, as with history, there are ups and downs. There are triumphs and catastrophic defeats.

Northwestern will play a football game against Ohio State this Saturday. I will watch the game. You, most likely, will watch the game, because this article will be scarcely read outside of Northwestern circles. Ohio State, despite a tough loss to Penn State, will ride out of the tunnel with the swagger and presumption of a “damn good football team”. Northwestern, a 26.5-point underdog, will probably lose.

I don’t think college football games should be like Roman triumphs. Sports have never needed the Sword of Damocles formerly known as “reality” to hang over each and every stadium. In fact, I encourage everyone to be as happy as they possibly can be for this football game. College football is its own microcosm of the world, and its ability to compartmentalize emotion and strip away subjectiveness, at least for a few hours, is what keeps us engaged. Football is a good game. It’s a Spectacle that Guy Debord would be proud of, mediating our hopes and dreams into a sports team of unpaid athletes to create the ultimate form of Saturday afternoon consumption.

And yet, after the game is over and the concessions are swept away, I think there could be room for a cockroach in the top row of the Shoe whispering “memento mori”. It’s a message that will, of course, be picked up by the media and used to sell something in between the margins, but it is, at its core, worth hearing.

Someday, Ohio State will be bad. Someday, Northwestern will be really good. Someday, Gameday will come to Evanston once again. Someday, there will be a signature win that will be forgotten in 15 years due to six seasons of mediocrity. Someday, someone will fire McCall, and we’ll go on to criticize the next offensive coordinator. And then once he’s gone, we’ll criticize the replacement.


The Northwestern Wildcats board the bus and begin their way home to Evanston, just like so many teams before them. Coach Walker Jr. is beaming after a comfortable 40-27 victory. The good times will never end.

 

NUTC Beginners’ Guide: Sauk Skyhawk Invite

NUTC Beginners’ Guide: Sauk Skyhawk Invite

I have never been to Sauk Valley Community College and I have no clue what to expect in this meet.

I decided to write a preview regardless, because that’s what competent sportswriters do. When we don’t know, we make something up and try to pass it off as legitimate. This is how Skip Bayless made an entire career.

The Sauk people were in North America before any of our ancestors. They are also known as the “Sac”, which is the name the French gave this people group during the colonial period. The Sauk originated in the north but eventually migrated to Illinois, where they stayed for a while.

The most famous Sauk is definitely Black Hawk, who fought a famous war against the United States government in 1832. Black Hawk was kicked out of Illinois but repeatedly tried to reclaim his home. Eventually, one of those attempts ended in a battle with Illinois militia, triggering Black Hawk’s War.

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A painting of Black Hawk.

The Sauk lost, but at least Black Hawk got an NHL team named after him. I’m sure that would come as great comfort to a man who saw his people evicted from their land, many of his friends killed, and lived through conflict with other Native Americans and the USA from 51 years.

Black Hawk somehow became an American cultural icon, with monuments and places named after him. A historian’s quote from about Black Hawk and his subsequent popularity amongst the American public goes as follows: “most of the reconstructed memory of the Black Hawk War has been designed to make white people feel good about themselves.”

In 1965, Sauk Valley Community College was formed. The Sauk Valley Skyhawks are part of the NJCAA, which is the National Junior College Athletic Association and easily the least-known of the college athletic associations. The Skyhawks compete in Division I of the NJCAA.

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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, used during the Cold War. Was used in Vietnam, the Yom Kippur War and in the Falklands War.

There appears to be no animal that is actually called a “Skyhawk”. Hawks exist. Skyhawks do not exist. The only real Skyhawk is one of the most successful military jets ever designed and was produced for 34 years, with regular modifications. If you’ve ever seen Top Gun, these planes appear in the movie. DANGER ZONE!!

Strangely enough, the US military also named a plane after Black Hawk.

They say American imperialism has vast effects on the world at large, but you can’t underestimate its effects on community colleges in the state of Illinois.

Anyhow, I have no idea why Sauk Valley Community College called themselves the Skyhawks. The name is shared by the University of Tennessee-Martin, Point University and Stonehill College. It is also a name of a minor league baseball team in Sussex, NJ, which I may or may not have seen when I was a child, especially considering their stadium is 20 minutes from my house.

The race itself should be good competition for the Northwestern Track Club. I think we might do significantly better than we did last week in terms of place, on both sides. For the women, that means getting a full scoring team. Infinite improvement! For the men, there won’t be as many teams, I hope, so that will help us. I expect the course will be totally flat again because this is Illinois.

I tried to find historical results for this meet, but they do not exist on the Internet. It’s very strange. I’ve done some serious Googling and I can’t find anything. I can assure you that people are going to extremely confused when they see Northwestern jerseys and logos at this meet. You may overhear statements like, “why is Northwestern here?”, “aren’t they a Division I school?”, “they came this far south” and “wow that jersey looks fresh”. Take these in stride.

What I did find was a large classifieds section on the USTFCCCA website advertising random cross-country meets. Next fall when Northwestern starts very late, I’m going to go to as many of these random cross-country meets in the TRI-STATE AREAAAAAA

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That feeling you get when you make yet another Phineas and Ferb joke on your blog

as I possibly can. The entry fees are very cheap. I’m going to write a feature about it. It will be two parts funny, one part tragicomic, three parts existentialist and entirely postmodern.

In other news, I am officially van certified and can confirm that Northwestern club vehicles has more fines than your average bank. You can get basically get fined for doing anything in a Northwestern vehicle.

GO CATS!

 

Northwestern Athletics campaigns…

In honor of the latest goofy, unnecessary and completely less-than-amusing ad campaign proposing Bryant McIntosh to be the face of the dime, because, you know, assists. And while we’re using unpaid athletes’ likenesses to increase sales and market the university, I have some suggestions for Northwestern’s PR department for their next move.

If the Shoe Fitz’ – An animated cartoon involving the wacky adventures of stern, but lovable, head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his mischievous football team. #iftheshoefitz

Northwestern Athletics present an avant-garde short film of Ifeadi Odenigbo in a literal potato sack, because, sacks! Get it! It’s a play on words and sports slang! In the end, he emerges and tells the media to vote for him as Big Ten Player of the Year.

“Jango Unchained” – A totally politically correct and tasteful parody rap song inspired by the hit movie Django Unchained featuring Jango Glackin and voting for Northwestern players in various awards. #movealong

“Jango 2: Jango Fett’s Revenge” – A completely misrepresented and non-canon Star Wars-inspired parody involving Jango Glackin as bounty hunter Jango Fett and Kirk Ferentz as Emperor Palpatine. Sort of like the Star Wars Christmas Special but with more purple. Also it’s not like the Athletic Department hasn’t tried this before. #bobafettisbetter

“Jango 3: Let’s play Jenga” – A video of a competitive Jenga tournament featuring all the Northwestern sports team hosted by Jango Glackin. #jengaedifying

I Fought the Law – A television show featuring Vic Law policing student-athletes on social media platforms to make sure they say nothing negative whatsoever. Because that’s fair and legal and doesn’t violate the First Amendment. #lawincourt

Fredericks on Fredericksburg – Northwestern women’s lax player Shelby Fredericks takes us through the Battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War in a new documentary. She takes some high-larious potshots at Union general Ambrose Burnside! Cameo appearance from Selena Lasota explaining the campaigns against the Lakota during the Civil War on a bonus disk.

Massey vs. Massey – Northwestern field hockey player Pascale Massey and famed sports statistical analysis Ken Massey square off on t-distributions and the statistical significance of tying your shoes before taking a penalty in field hockey.

An anime series called Northwestern Volleyball Gundam that features the Northwestern volleyball team transported to the future and playing interplanetary volleyball with robots. 

Northwestern Athletics campaigns for Nia Coffey to become the new face of Starbucks.

Turning Anthony Walker into a superhero named “The Franchise” with his own comic book and lunchbox!

Oh wait, that already happened, my apologies.

Strong Can Clay – In an attempt to improve his clay-court game, Northwestern tennis player Strong Kirchheimer receives a pottery lesson on YouTube.

“My Name is Jonas” – A synergistic cross-brand marketing campaign with the band Weezer to promote Northwestern women’s basketball player Maya Jonas and Coca-Cola products, including Sprite Zero. #weezercats

(Ben Goren suggestion) Sanjay Lumpkin Eats a Pumpkin. That’s it. He’s just eating a pumpkin because it’s fall. #lumpkinpumpkin

Northwestern Athletics campaigns to make Dererk Pardon a host on PTI with Northwestern alum Michael Wilbon! #pardonmytake

And before you say all of these are unlikely, just remember that the Northwestern Athletics department is trying to campaign to get Bryant McIntosh on the dime. This is actually happening.