Walker gives ‘Family Guy,’ Michigan 2 thumbs up

Tania Ganguli

So, how did Northwestern break its road game slump at Penn State this weekend? A little “Family Guy” maybe?

“It was an animated thing,” coach Randy Walker said at his weekly Monday Press conference. “A bunch of…Family Guy? Family Man? It was a cartoon on Fox. I’d never seen it and it was pretty good.”

Running back Noah Herron enjoyed the selection, calling it “quite hilarious,” but didn’t think the choice of the weekly Friday night movie made any difference.

“The coaches try to overanalyze it and break that down,” said Herron, who also said he felt no lingering effects from his first quarter collision on Saturday. “If we don’t have our heads together the next day, it doesn’t matter what we watch on the movie screen.”

That’s something that will be important for NU this weekend, and they’re already thinking about it.

Tradition and history haven’t meant a lot to the Wildcats this year, except when they’ve knocked it down. But the prospect of playing in Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend had Walker thinking about Michigan’s history and his roots.

The Wolverines’ winningest head coach Bo Schembechler came from coaching cradle Miami (Ohio), just like Walker.

“One of my rites of passage as a young coach, you went to Michigan to watch spring football,” Walker said. “Bo Schembechler and all the great coaches he had. Of course (current Michigan coach) Lloyd Carr was one of those.

“So I know Michigan well and as the head coach of Miami, developed a real close relationship with Bo Schembechler.”

Walker mentioned Schembechler’s zero tolerance for wearing other team’s colors in front of him in the Michigan locker room and imitated the legendary coach.

“This is about Michigan football,” Walker said, furrowing his brow and used a gruff, nasal voice to emphasize the word Michigan. “We play Michigan football.”

The Wildcats — who beat Ohio State for the first time in 33 years, Purdue for the first time under Walker and Penn State in Happy Valley for the first time ever — don’t like to talk about tradition and history before games, but it’s still in the back of their minds.

“I knew what had gone on in State College, Pennsylvania, for Northwestern. I am an historian,” Walker said. “I know what had gone on between Ohio State and Northwestern. Yeah we hadn’t beat Purdue since I’d been here. I didn’t miss that. We need to do something about that.”

And the players didn’t deny that they were thinking about what beating Michigan would mean to them.

Receiver Ashton Aikens said it’s the game he’s been waiting for his whole career. Defensive lineman Barry Cofield talked about the repercussions of winning in the Big House.

“Just to win there it’ll be more than just a win, more than just one week,” Cofield said. “It’ll carry us for the rest of the season. Give us that confidence. I hate to say it, but some games are bigger than others.”

It’s something Walker won’t specifically talk about now, but maybe after this weekend’s game is over.

“Win or lose, good or bad, you let it go,” Walker said. “I tell our kids all the time, ‘There will be a time when we really celebrate what we have accomplished. It is not now. We’ll have a reunion it’ll be a lot of fun and you’ll even like me maybe a little bit by then.'”

And perhaps they can watch a little “Family Guy,” too.

Reach Tania Ganguli at [email protected]