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A Brief Review of My Experience at Ryan Field

A reprint of my survey response to the Northwestern Athletics Office post-game questionnaire.

I went to the Northwestern-Penn State game on Saturday. It was Homecoming, I’d let to attend a ‘Cats game at Ryan Field this fall, and it was much cheaper and better for my Southwest miles to fly out of Chicago to Boston on Sunday.

The game was bad.

We all remember that, right? Saquon Barkley could not run against a decent Northwestern defense without the help of a marauding umpire, who sprung him for his one long run of the day and kept his Heisman hopes alive. Clayton Thorson...existed. Northwestern’s offensive line...did not.

And there was a speed option dialed up on 4th and 2. Never forget that that playcall happened.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, because quite frankly Northwestern’s football team is the lukewarm brand of “meh” that Tristan Jung described very gracefully over at InsideNU and that I really just don’t care to recap any further. I’m comfortably numb to this shit start, and that’s where I want to be.

Instead, I would prefer to use this opportunity to share my lengthiest response to the Northwestern Athletics gameday experience survey, sent out by email today. I would’ve shared the whole thing, but I hit send and then thought “this would be a good idea for a Monday afternoon shitpost,” so here we are.

After checking that Ryan Field meets my now-lowered expectations of a college football field on gameday and that the food was fine or whatever (a lie, but it does just job for me and I don’t want the 20,000 Iowa fans at the next game to feel too comfortable), I got to the two open-ended responses.

One involved me saying something to the effect of “when can we be like Purdue, tear down the South End Zone, and put a nice little beer garden in there?” That is a sentence I wrote, because it is the Year of Our Lord 2017 and fuck me, I have found myself wishing for Purdue’s football facilities.

The 10th and final survey question, however, asked me to describe any other changes I would like to see made for Northwestern’s gameday experience. Here is my full response, unedited:

Besides the abysmal play with no hope of an offensive coaching change? (Seriously. A speed option on 4th and 2 means someone should be getting fired out of a cannon.) There was next-to-no life, no energy in the stadium for Homecoming, of all games, with a ranked team in town. It was wonderful to see Trevor Siemian, and celebrating the successful teams/Ring of Honor alumni is wonderful. But things like giveaways/T-shirt tosses have slowed to a crawl, from what I can recall, empty seats remain an eyesore (please go the Purdue route and just serve beer in one of the end zones), and there's nothing to grab onto/get excited about. Perhaps the biggest case in point for me is the opener of the fourth quarter.

Was "Put Your Hands Up in the Air" necessarily "cool" or "classy" or "iconic"? No, but the local celebrity angle was hokey and fun (especially when it was someone like John Shurna hitting a three), the music was good and not clearly pandering to the students (who'd already left), and it was something all ages got into: families and their little kids got on the Jumbrotron, students doing it was visually noticeable, and even your hallowed geriatric donor fanbase stopped shushing those people standing and cheering around them long enough to remember that they'd done Swimaerobics all week to prepare for this one moment, then execute it flawlessly. It was Fun, and even amid a game in which Northwestern was slowly being strangled by a combination of fielding a high school JV offensive line and a decent opposing defense, it's one of those little bright spots you hold out hope for. In conclusion, thank the defense for being absolute monsters, fire whoever designed that offensive gameplan, and please Make Ryan Field Fun Again.

By the way the donut cheeseburger thing was amazing and while I want to bill you for my impending coronary I thank you for bringing some good food to Ryan Field.

See you all at College Park next weekend and at Ryan Field for the Iowa game the weekend after that, because I am a fucking idiot.