Putterman: Class of 2016 plays big role in Gator Bowl win

Alex Putterman, Reporter

Until this year, 63 consecutive Northwestern football teams had failed to win a bowl game, and 63 consecutive sets of Wildcats fans and students had suffered for it. American voters elected 10 new presidents across 16 elections while NU made futile attempts to make and then win a bowl. People were born, people lived and people died of natural causes without seeing a Cats bowl victory.

Then I came along.

My class-of-2016 brethren and I didn’t have to wait long for NU bowl success. Not even once did we carry high hopes into September, decide that the streak would end this year, then dump our heads into our hands when the dream died in December or January. We suffered the obligatory regular-season heartbreak, but when the season’s final whistle blew, we, unlike most of our predecessors, had grand reason to celebrate.

After the Cats’ Gator Bowl victory, several upperclassmen have called me spoiled, suggesting I haven’t paid the necessary penance, that I don’t deserve my team’s bowl victory, that it’s not fair that I can celebrate NU’s postseason success without having first cried over its postseason failure.

Of course, those juniors and seniors have probably heard the same refrains from their fathers and uncles and grandfathers and whoever else they know who traversed the campus before they did. We’re all cursed to have supported such a troubled team, and we’re all blessed now to support a victorious one. So everyone leave us freshmen alone and let us cheer along with the more seasoned Cats fans.

Plus, isn’t it possible that we were actually a good luck charm for NU football? I’m not usually the superstitious type, but sports curses are a lot of fun and often disturbingly persistent, and the evidence in the Cats’ case speaks for itself.

It’s of course tempting to credit the snapping of this curse to people who were actually on the field for the Gator Bowl — or at least active in the program. But the 2012 Cats had the same athletic director, coach and even some of the same key players as last year’s team, which lost the Meineke Car Care Bowl convincingly.

What was different this year? Who was our Curt Schilling, the new addition who sparked a historic curse-snapping? The class of 2016.

Now, it may seem like I’m stealing credit for Kain Colter and Venric Mark’s triumphs, a charge for which I plead the fifth. But something changed this year, and it wasn’t them.

If you’re an upperclassman who picked up this column, you’ve probably either thrown the paper down and stormed away or are now red as a fire hydrant, irate at the nerve of the no-good freshman who is not only claiming this bowl victory as his own but also claiming responsibility for it.

My response: You’re welcome.

You, too, once arrived on campus intending your arrival to correspond with a Cats breakthrough, but you didn’t root hard enough, cheer loudly enough or generally exude enough good luck. We did, and I think it’s safe to say NU won because of it.

All of which begs the question: Can the class of ’16 bring NU an NCAA Tournament berth?

Come on, y’all. We’re not that lucky.