First off, a hello to all of you Rivalry readers out there! My name is Hilary and I'm very happy to be joining the fine contributors here at The Rivalry, Esq. I'll be writing mostly about Northwestern though, on occasion, about the Badgers as well. While Northwestern is now my preferred Big 10 team, the cheese runs deep in my family and I have long spent blustery Saturday afternoons wishing I was freezing up at Camp Randall instead of in Chicago.
Beyond the family loyalties, my entire academic history is also tied up in the Big 10. Well, sort of. I'm currently a law student at Northwestern, but, before that, I was an undergrad at The University of Chicago, which was actually a founding member of the Big 10. Shocking, I know. (Fun football trivia - the former lyric in "On Wisconsin", which sang of running a ball round Chicago, referred to the University, not the city.) Usually when people think of my alma mater - assuming they don't ask, "where is that, is that some new state school?" - they think nuclear physics and Milton Friedman. But there was once a glorious day, long ago, when they were a Big 10 football powerhouse. The U of C, however, dropped out of the Big 10 in 1946.
This is also right about the time Northwestern won its last bowl game.
So, in some ways, it seems that in moving from the south to the north side I have exchanged a former Big 10 team for one whose greatest strength has often been that our players sounded the most intelligent in their post game interviews. But, I firmly believe that the disappointing seasons are a thing of the past. This is a great time for Northwestern football. The Wildcats are coming off of a very solid season and I expect 2009 to be even better than 2008.
The offensive situation is a bit murky, but my hopes are buoyed by Mike Kafka's improved arm and his potential mobility in the backfield as a result of his running back history. There are also a few true freshman (Arby Fields, Patrick Ward) who have had good camps and present intriguing profiles heading into the season. The biggest strength is of course the defense, which last year was arguably the 3rd best in the Big 10, behind only Penn State and OSU. It will be returning in almost its entirety. The secondary looks to be fantastic and both lines are quite solid as well, which will hopefully provide a favorable situation for Kafka as he adjusts to his newish role. Northwestern is a team on the rise and that combined with a consistent coaching staff and relatively easy schedule suggests big things for the cats in 2009.
As the weather in Chicago shifts from summer to fall and my classes ramp up I look forward to sharing with you my tales of huddling in the seats and jingling my keys at Ryan Field on these blustery Saturday afternoons.
I leave you with, simply,
Go U! NU!