With B1G 2015, Off Tackle Empire's comprehensive preview of each Big Ten football team, rapidly approaching, your humble OTE staff realized that it may help, with two still-fresh faces in the conference and a growing readership and commentariat, to re-introduce some of us, and introduce others who have transitioned seamlessly into the role of "writer" here. In true Colbert (woo Northwestern grad) style, we're calling it Better Know an OTE "Writer". BKaOTE'W', if acronyms are your thing.
With that typed, as an "older" member of the writing staff—that in itself is scary to consider—I'll lead.
Who the hell am I? I am a 2012 graduate of Northwestern, having majored in history and political science. During my time in Evanston, I was a member of the Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band (NUMB) and had the opportunity to travel to bowl games in Tampa, Dallas, and Houston. I also participated in (and continue to be involved with) Quiz Bowl at Northwestern and nationally, thus really summing up the fact that I went to college to live up to my true potential as a nerd.
That said, I was a three-sport athlete (tennis, soccer, and football) growing up in a Saint Paul suburb, though critics are quick to note that I was a goalie and a punter/kicker—but I made a tackle in each season, so shut up.
How did I get here? On Off Tackle Empire, I started as a member of the commentariat before, amidst OTE "Writer" Emeritus Bama Hawkeye's use of WhatIf Sports to determine the Big Ten's best team of the last 20 years, I decided to use FanPosts to find who the worst Big Ten team was since 1995. Tim Brewster's 2007 Minnesota squad "won" that ignominious title in the Brewster-DiNardo Memorial Slapfight, though the third-place Zook-Wacker Face-Saving Special was a game to behold. From there, I've been "writing" on Northwestern, specialists, and the Big Ten in general for two-and-a-half years (wow).
What am I doing now? Well, I'm finishing my Master's in History this spring, having written an MA Essay on the revival of progressive political organizations in Minneapolis-Saint Paul in the mid-1970s. Moving forward, I will be starting my PhD this fall, with my dissertation analyzing the reaction of Midwestern liberalism to the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. First, I'll be looking at the ideological foundations of Midwestern progressivism, both in the tradition of the 1920s and 30s and the revival of the 1960s and 70s. Then, I'll be analyzing dislocations which challenged and provided opportunities for the progressive movements in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota: the Nixon era, the controversial rise of the Reagan Democrats, and even the Farm Crisis of the mid-1980s. I plan to explore the commonalities and differences between liberal movements in those three states, examine what was distinctly "Midwestern" about their rhetoric, and assess the scope and efficacy of their movement, which produced still-relevant politicians from Mark Dayton to Tom Harkin.
History? Ew. Talk about sports! I am a season-ticketholder going on four years at Ryan Field, attend a number of basketball games each season, both home and away, and am a rabid Minnesota fan in all professional sports (and college hockey). I would have to say that my favorite memory as a Northwestern fan so far would be the 2013 Gator Bowl win. I flew down to Jacksonville at my own expense for three boozy nights, and seeing Northwestern fans who had been at the last bowl game win—the 1949 Rose Bowl—celebrating with us neophytes really captured why I love my university.
With that said, each one of these articles hopefully will introduce you to an OTE "writer," who in turn will provide you with some sort of "hot take" or analysis of the Big Ten and their school. Not having a ton positive to say about Northwestern right now (and not wanting to jinx the Wild), I'll post a few comments below that I hope will spark a little discussion. They're semi-relevant to my research interests, rooting interests, and so on.
Thank you. Finally, I want to thank you guys and gals, the OTE readership and commentariat, for humoring and tolerating me. I'm not a journalist or a writer by any stretch of the imagination, I'm a cantankerous 24-year old who writes for the best damn Big Ten blog on the internet as a means of stepping away from academia and trying to be professional. All the feedback and thought you guys have provided me is a major reason I keep writing here. Thank you, and go ‘Cats!