On a crisp New Year's Day afternoon in Jacksonville, I hugged a lot of random people in purple. Quite a way to ring in 2013, cheering a Northwestern bowl victory, something multiple generations of fans had died without getting to witness.
Then 2013 happened.
I won't recount it: for the Northwestern fans, because we can recite it like canon; for the rest of OTE, because you don't care.
The wheels fell off, that's what matters, and now we have gifs of Slidin' Drew Dileo, Kain Colter getting a first down that was never awarded, and...well, a Nebraska fan will be by shortly to post one of their greatest Big Ten triumphs: a last-second home victory over an historic Big Ten also-ran who would finish 5-7 (1-7), with a 4-0 start and a HAT win bookended by a 7-game collapse.
There was also a 17-10 overtime game with Iowa in there somewhere, if you can believe that, demonstrating that no matter if it's a 5- or 10-win season, Pat Fitzgerald and Kirk Ferentz do not give a fuck about ruining football games.
It was, by all accounts, an unmitigated disaster. Northwestern was a sexy pick to win the Big Ten; to finally realize its potential as a Midwestern Stanford with actual standards to be haughty about. Of course, because this is real life and not certain writers' 11-1 fantasies, it did not pan out. In fact, it crashed and burned and rolled over and somewhere along the line a nun got lit on fire and I'm pretty sure I fought a bush but to be fair the bush was drunk and I was standing there innocently.
Along the way Colter put pro-union slogans on his wristbands--a shameless political action, of course, more nefarious than giving someone a "#1" jersey--in support of his NCAA unionization campaign, the team flopped in the limelight against Ohio State, and at the end of the season...no staff changes were made.
Northwestern went 5-7 in 2014.
We have Maryland Week left in B1G 2018; never fear, Terp fans, your writers haven't forgotten you, even if everyone else has.
Every fanbase, though, has its disaster season: Northwestern 2001 _or_ 2013, depending on who you ask, Michigan State 2016, and Illinois in...well, almost any season. But for all but the most pessimistic of us, the ones that hurt the most are the disasters you never see coming. For me, that's 2013. Tell me about the season for your school that was an unqualified, unforeseen, unmitigated tire-fire of off-field drama and on-field derp.
Have a great weekend.