📵Mick McCall's final act was perfect
🏀Plus, an up-and-down week for Northwestern basketball.
Get ready to re-up those season ticket commitments because it’s a brave new world out there.
For 12 years, Mick McCall coordinated Northwestern’s offense. And now, that chapter of Wildcat football is over. We’ll get into that, as well as Northwestern’s comfortable win over Illinois to end its season, a bit later.
Plus, we’re now fully in basketball mode (thank god). While there’s not as much phone blaming in those parts of Northwestern’s athletic department, there’ll be no shortage of content during these winter months.
Speaking of winter months, here’s my plan for newsletters over the next few weeks:
I’ll have one for you on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Then, I’ll have another one on Thursday, Dec. 19. That’s the day after the men’s basketball team takes on Michigan State.
I’ll be traveling during the bulk of those next two weeks so you won’t get newsletters then. But I’ll be back the week of Monday, Jan. 6.
And with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s blame some things.
I couldn’t really believe it when I got the press release emailed to me Sunday. Mick McCall, after seasons of underperforming offenses and sometimes perplexing play calling, is done at Northwestern. Finally.
No longer can Pat Fitzgerald boast about how much of an asset his staff’s continuity has been. Northwestern will have a new offense in 2020, and it won’t be McCall’s doing.
Maybe as Fitzgerald searches for his next OC, he’ll choose to invest in someone that will be good enough to get hired for a head-coaching gig by another school, not someone that will grow complacent after more than a decade in the same position. One can only hope.
As for who replaces McCall, I wrote about some different options a couple of months ago. And the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein wrote about some potential candidates last week. Our lists are different. Mine was more of a wishlist. Teddy’s is obviously more informed.
His top choice was a former Big Ten offensive coordinator (and interim head coach). Remember Matt Canada, the ex-Northern Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin-NC State-Pitt-LSU-Maryland OC? He didn’t coach in college football in 2019 and could be looking to return.
Canada would be a fine pick. But the 47-year-old might not be the most out-of-the-box one. He’s basically a known commodity, which for fans like me might be a demerit. But for Fitzgerald, that could be his biggest asset.
Now, back to McCall.
You have to give it to him. His last game at Northwestern was an absolute masterpiece.
Quarterback Andrew Marty threw 10 times. Northwestern ran the ball 65 times. Marty hit just two different receivers all day.
As a runner, Marty carried the ball 30(!) times for for 111 yards. Drake Anderson was next with 23 carries. And Coco Azema, a redshirt freshman listed as a defensive back on the team roster, picked up 123 yards on just 7 carries.
The team stats are even funnier. Northwestern out-rushed Illinois by 364 yards. The Wildcats had the ball for over 41 minutes compared to Illinois’ 18. The game ended in a 29-10 rout.
It was like playing against your little cousin in Madden and using the “Goal Line” formation every play and wrecking them with “FB Dive,” “QB Sneak,” and “HB Off Tackle” time after time.
It was an absurdly weird game. And it was an absolutely perfect way for McCall to end his tenure in Evanston.
I’ll (kinda) miss you, Mick. 😥
In the Northwestern men’s basketball team’s last two games they took on two ACC teams.
The Wildcats dropped the Fort Myers Tip-Off championship game to Pitt 72-59. It was a weird game. Center Ryan Young, who had been so effective in recent games, took just one shot. And Miller Kopp, the player who (in my opinion) has to be Northwestern’s best offensive threat, scored 8 points on just 5 shots. Meanwhile, Pete Nance and Anthony Gaines combined to shoot just 2-14 from the field.
The bright spots were the point guards. Pat Spencer continued his strong play, leading the team with 18 points. And freshman guard Boo Buie broke out with 16 points in 22 minutes.
Last night, NU put a beatdown on Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. And it was clear that Chris Collins pushed his offense to find Kopp early and often. The sophomore put up 20 points on 14 shot attempts, including 8 threes. If Kopp stays around that 12-16-shot mark this season, Northwestern’s offense will benefit.
Buie continued to use his speed and ball-handling to attack the rim. The freshman followed up his strong game against Pitt with a 20-point outing, forcing his way into minutes that are typically Spencer’s.
Buie’s play has been an exciting development as the Wildcats begin Big Ten play on Sunday at Purdue. The Boilermakers have dropped a few games so far this season and have really struggled from deep, shooting just 31% as a team.
The women’s program had a huge opportunity to get a statement win when No. 16 DePaul visited Evanston over the weekend. The Wildcats hung with the Blue Demons but ultimately couldn’t solve the tandem of forward Chante Stonewall and guard Sonya Morris, who combined for 47 points on the afternoon. Abbie Wolf and Lindsey Pulliam were able to keep Northwestern in it before a Morris bucket in the final minute pushed DePaul over the top.
Northwestern is 6-1 and will take on Boston College tonight at Welsh-Ryan.
Northwestern student journalism of the week
Noah Coffman of Inside NU did a nice job of both eulogizing McCall’s tenure at Northwestern and looking forward by explaining how this impending decision will say a lot about Pat Fitzgerald’s program.
That’s where we’ll end things this week. Thanks for sticking with another edition of 📵Blame the Phones.
And remember, if you want to be one my bag people, it’s here.
Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas. I’d love to hear them.