It’s still so fresh. But the best way to deal with this right now is to accept the facts that we lost and that the Homecoming game we waited a very long time for is already history.
I can write about how much I wish I cared less. I can tell you how I wish I could sleep after a loss like this, instead of waking up after three hours to write a column.
Instead, right now, I want to tell you that we all need to enjoy this journey we’re on.
If not this season, then soon, the Wildcats will win a Rose Bowl. I truly believe that. And that moment will be so sweet, so pure, not because of that singular game, but because of the journey we’ve been on ever since Pat Fitzgerald took over this team.
I agree moral victories accomplish nothing for NU. However, the crazy losses we’ve endured the past few seasons — Illinois in 2011, Nebraska, Penn State and Michigan in 2012, and now Saturday night — are moments we’ll all look back together on as fond memories of something greater.
(And believe me when I say we’ll look back at it together someday. How was this weekend for a Homecoming? The alumni and our student body stepped up, ratcheting up the excitement to levels Mike Wilbon said he’s never seen since arriving to Evanston as a freshman in 1976.)
Fitzgerald is building something greater than what can be accomplished in one game. And we’re close as hell to having created a program that can sustain excellence on the field to match what we do off of it.
So let’s enjoy this journey. Let’s take this “heartbreak” in stride. We are close. Close isn’t always going to be enough, and it wasn’t enough for me last night when I stepped into my apartment, collapsed to the ground and just laid on the floor.
But this journey, heck this season, is far from finished. Everything is in front of us, and the Ohio State loss does little to prevent us from a division championship, a conference championship or any of NU’s goals from before the season.
As for respect? Here’s my message to the nation.
If you don’t respect us now, then that’s your own damn fault. We packed “College GameDay” on the shores of Lake Michigan at 4 a.m. Our tiny school from the small city of Evanston, Ill., fought toe-to-toe with a top-five team that hasn’t lost a game since 2011.
I have no shame in my school. I won’t accept this loss, but I won’t accept your pity either. What we have in Evanston is special: a legitimate football program, deserving of being one of the top 25 in the country. And when I’m receiving my diploma in June 2015, so will the players from my class, probably with a better GPA than I’ll have.
So don’t feel sorry for us. Friends, don’t send me your texts after the game telling me you feel for me. I appreciate it on a human level. But the truth is, you really don’t know what — and more importantly whom — we have here at this school.
Our journey will not be defined by one game.
Oh, and Ohio State? See you Dec. 7.
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