Ohio State fans hate Michigan, and they've grown to at least kinda hate Wisconsin and Penn State. Few fans can conjure up any real emotion towards Northwestern, though. Long forgotten as our adorable nerdy cousin trying to make it in the big city, Northwestern has been paraded around more for their academic credibility, that we can borrow to lord over the SEC, rather than their football accomplishments. And now that Northwestern has actually been lifting a few weights and has a real football team again, are Buckeye fans treating them as an actual threat? No, they've more been congratulating them from afar:
Awww, good for you Northwestern! Way to win a bowl game! Way to do our conference proud!
Now the day of reckoning is here. The #16 ranked Wildcats stand as one of the principle obstacles to Ohio State's goal of an undefeated season and championship game berth. It's time to get serious. It's time to stop treating Northwestern like somebody who just wants to hang out, eat Cheetos, and play Settlers of Catan (although that is probably what Northwestern wants to do). It's time to treat Northwestern for what they are – a threat.
And that, my friends, is WHY YOU NEED TO HATE NORTHWESTERN.
If you're out of practice, let me help give you some reasons.
Northwestern might have the single most annoying group of alumni in the entire Big Ten
First, let me acknowledge that Northwestern has, in fact, produced a lot of awesome graduates. They gave us Stephen Colbert after all, possibly the coolest Big Ten grad of them all. Northwestern also gave us George R.R Martin, Ira Glass and Seth Myers; so they're not all terrible. However, this institution is responsible for a slew of individuals that have easily made our lives worse. I present an incomplete, abridged list, but feel free to add your own:
1) Mike Greenberg, insufferable host of Mike and Mike in the morning. Every time I hear SHEET OF INTEGRITY during March, I want to stab something in the throat.
2) Actually, make that the entire ESPN "Purple Mafia", which includes a slew of mostly super annoying journalists and TV personalities. The only redeeming exception from this list is Brent Musburger (guest GameDay picker!), whose voice still sounds like bourbon – but you better believe I'm not letting him within 50 feet of my wife if we're at the same tailgate together.
3) Darren Rovell deserves special mention, for being perhaps the single most annoying, most slimy person in all of sports journalism. If Ayn Rand had a twitter account and followed sports, she'd be Rovell.
4) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is rumored to be so excited about the Northwestern-Ohio State game that he plans to close four schools in celebration.
5) Former Illinois Governor and current prison inmate Rod Blagojevich. Illinois has a long and illustrious history of brash, corrupt and stupid politicians. Blaggo is probably the current clubhouse leader.
6) Anna Gunn. Look, this isn't Jezebel. I'm allowed to not like Skyler here.
7) Jerry Springer. Look, we sometimes get lumped in with this guy because he used to be mayor of Cincinnati, but that would have never happened without you people. Wah wah I'm Northwestern I'm an elite private school I've provided the world with Supreme Court Justices and High Culture and No, shut the hell up, you're also responsible for midget fights on daytime TV.
8) Former Penn State President Graham Spanier. Look, Joe Paterno gets a lot of the crap these days for the Penn State Sandusky Scandal, but if Joe Pa was guilty, than Spanier was SUPER DUPER GUILTY. At the very least, Spanier is a shining example of what higher education administrators should NOT be.
And that's just after 20 minutes of Google'ing and Wikipedia'ing. I COULD GO ON YOU GUYS.
Northwestern used to be so bad they seriously talked about leaving the Big Ten
The Big Ten likes to pride itself on being some sort of unbreakable forever club. Nobody leaves the Big Ten to grab a bigger TV deal with some other fly-by-night conference. We're all about HISTORY and SOLIDARITY and ROSEBOWLROSEBOWLROSEBOWL. Well, Northwestern used to suck so bad that we all sort of thought about making an exception.
1955, the year before Ara Parseghian came to Northwestern, was a major low in the history of the university's football program. The team, coached by Lou Saban, finished with a record of 0-8-1 -- the worst (at that time) in the history of Northwestern football. To make things even more bleak, their dismal record came at the end of the three-year slump which forced Bob Voigts' retirement after the 1954 season. The 1955 schedule promised "nerve tingling action," "versatility, power, and spirit" -- but all the small crowds who went to the games saw were losses.
First of all, who the hell wrote that advertising campaign, Bronco Mendenhall?
Near the end of the season, talk began about Northwestern's place in Big Ten -- more specifically, leaving the Big Ten for a different conference. On November 1, 1955, the Daily Northwestern ran a front-page editorial which endorsed the move
You can read the full editorial on the link, but let it be known that editorial was in the 1950s. It would get worse, a LOT worse for Northwestern, and they seriously considered bailing for the Ivy League back in the 1970s. From the Wall St Journal:
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Northwestern was so hopeless at football that school officials discussed shunning major-college sports altogether. Feeling squeezed by the Big Ten Conference, Northwestern initiated a dialogue with the Ivy League, a flirtation that was somewhere between casual and head-over-heels, according to officials who were involved at the time.
"I don't think too many people remember how very close it came at that point," said Frederick Hemke, Northwestern's faculty-athletics representative to the Big Ten and NCAA from 1982 to 2003.
Geez you guys. It's one thing to quit the conference to go play intramurals and work on physics research or whatever. It worked out okay with the Chicago's ACTUAL Big Ten Team, the University of Chicago. But to stretch that out for years and flirt with joining Cornell and Princeton? That's just embarrassing, son.
Northwestern is not Chicago's Big Ten Team
If you live in Chicago like I do – or perhaps have driven through the city recently – you've probably seen these billboards. This is part of an ambitious advertising initiative to claim the capital of the Big Ten, Chicago, for the Wildcats. This is dumb for two reasons.
1) Northwestern's undergraduate campus is in Evanston, which is not Chicago. Evanston is where people in Chicago go to buy spray paint. Evanston is where we take our parents to brunch once we're sick of Wicker and Lincoln Park. It is not Chicago. Evanston is historically uptight, had major roots to the temperance movement, and remains so high-strung it banned bowling alleys* (NOTE: this might actually just be a Chicago urban legend. DOESN'T MATTER, GONNA PUBLISH ANYWAY) . Just what Chicagoland needed, a little slice of Provo, just outside the city. THANKS GUYS.
2) Northwestern cannot take over Chicago until they, you know, take over Evanston. Examine this picture, which is rumored to be a Northwestern home game against Nebraska. Could have easily been an Ohio State game at Northwestern.
Oh, speaking of Ohio State owning Northwestern,
Ohio State totally owns Northwestern in football.
Ohio State and Northwestern have played 74 times, which you think would lead to some sort of illustrious history. Instead, it's become something of a Harlem Globetrotters/Washington Generals relationship. Over the last 100 years, Ohio State has owned the Wildcats more than virtually any other major conference football team. The Buckeyes hold a 59-14-1 advantage over the course of the series.
How lopsided is the rivalry? Northwestern has scored 20 or more points only 10 times during that entire stretch. The 2012 Ohio State football team scored 20 or more points 11 times. That's one season.
Ohio State has scored 50 or more points 12 times, nearly as many as Northwestern's won. Ohio State has won this game by 40 or more points more often than Northwestern has actually won.
How bad as this series been? From the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein:
Northwestern had such a defeatist mentality that in 1991, athletic director Bruce Corrie agreed to move a home game against Ohio State to Cleveland, citing a need to "pay our bills." The Daily Northwestern mocked the Wildcats as "Cleveland's Big Ten team."
Northwestern! The Big Ten's Toledo!
Northwestern actually upset Ohio State, in overtime, 33-27, back in 2004, kicking off an ignominious three game losing streak. The two squads have tussled four times since then. The scores?
2005: Ohio State 48 Northwestern 7
2006: Ohio State 54 Northwestern 10
2007 Ohio State 58 Northwestern 7
2008 Ohio State 45 Northwestern 10
Over those last four games, Ohio State has outscored the Wildcats 205-34, or an average score of about 51-8. Now, I might be a liberal arts major from Ohio State instead of one of them fancy Northwestern boys, but that doesn't look too close to me.
The Buckeyes have won 28 of the last 29 meetings. No matter how much the Wildcats have improved this year, I wouldn't hold your breath for overcoming that much history.
IN CONCLUSION: While we might have put up with Northwestern's quirks before as some sort of cute historical oddity, the time has come to focus on what they really are: a dispensary for corrupt politicians, annoying journalists and mediocre football. You've had your fun, but it's time to focus on what you do best. Go back to playing Settlers of Catan. I know you bastards have been hoarding all the brick this whole time.