Letter to the Editor: New expectations mean new bar for storming field

Expectations matter. Ask an Olympic medalist or a political victor if they expected defeat. Ask a student who fails an exam whether they expected to pass. Ask Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips, about the importance of high expectations as he seeks to take Northwestern athletics to a “better destination.”

Under Phillips’s leadership, Northwestern has spent the last decade flipping the script, taking NU athletics from Chicago’s “lovable losers” to one of the most well-respected and well-rounded athletic programs in the country. From Phillips and every new hire in the athletic department to newly constructed facilities, Northwestern has sent a message that it expects nothing but excellence in athletics. This culture change can be felt by the athletes, by their coaches, but not, at least yet, by the fans that support them.

Saturday’s embarrassing fan performance against a struggling Wisconsin team proves this. The Cats executed a commanding 14-point victory, never trailing after halftime, but the student section was moved to storm the field. Our question is why? Saturday’s win was nothing new. Northwestern has defeated the Badgers four of their last five trips to Ryan Field. Northwestern is no Rutgers or Nebraska: We’ve won 12 of our last 13 conference games.

Make no mistake, Saturday’s game was a huge win for a team seeking its first Big Ten title in nearly 20 years. But storming the field is for upsets, for teams that don’t get to celebrate often, for surprises. Saturday was not a surprise.

We aren’t football killjoys. There is a time and a place for storming, and we’ve done so ourselves on several occasions. If your team has a last-second touchdown or beats a 30-point favorite, then by all means, storm away. Take your shirt off and run in circles. Scream the fight song from the mountains. Be a lunatic. But Saturday was no occasion for lunacy. We are a team who has finished in the top-25 two of the last three years and finished second in the Big Ten
West last year. Our sights are set on winning the West, and Northwestern football played like a team that expected victory in that pursuit.

NU students need to follow the lead of the administration and players and elevate expectations. We are no one’s little brother, no David to anyone’s Goliath, no loveable loser to the rest of the Big Ten. Expect victory, don’t be content with playing spoiler, strive for more. Don’t rush the field for beating a floundering conference opponent — stand firm and act like we’ve been here before, because we have. The Cats have beaten seven ranked teams over the last five years, and they have a shot to make that eight as the Irish trek to Evanston on Saturday. When we win, barring a crazy finish, we will keep our feet planted on the bleachers, as we tell Notre Dame and the rest of the nation that Northwestern football is no joke.

Go Cats!

This letter was submitted by Andrew Jacobs ([email protected]) and Grant Everly ([email protected])