📵Predicting the next 10 years of Northwestern sports
And, this is the final Blame the Phones.
What’s up, everyone?
I know it’s been a while. The last few weeks have been busy, to say the least. The short end of it (and how it impacts this newsletter) is this: I’ll be starting a new job soon that will lead me to stop publishing 📵 Blame the Phones.
This is an opportunity I’m super excited to run with. If you’re interested in what I’m going to be doing, follow @joshrosenblat on Twitter and you’ll find out soon.
Before we get into this last edition, I just want to thank all of you who have followed my work covering Northwestern since I was an undergrad in Evanston. By supporting the work of student journalists, you’re helping people reach their dreams, learn, and, hopefully, hold leaders to account. Please continue to do so.
With that, let’s get into it … one more time.
How I imagine you’re all reacting, reading that intro.
Northwestern football will win a Big Ten championship.
This one isn’t so outlandish. They’ve been knocking on the door for the past few seasons and should be considered a perennial favorite to come out of the Big Ten West (along with Wisconsin and Iowa) for the foreseeable future. While realignment (or expansion?) seems to be in the cards for the next decade, is any program but Ohio State that far above Northwestern’s level? Put the Wildcats against any other program and they match up well.
Northwestern football will have three first round picks in the NFL Draft.
The talent level is rising. Rashawn Slater is projected as a top pick this spring, which presumably gives me nine more drafts for two massive stars. Is another on the roster right now? (Brandon Joseph?) Generations of recruits using the new facilities, plus a (hopeful) embrace of a College Athletes Bill of Rights will raise the standard in Evanston.
No NCAA Tournament appearances for the men’s basketball program.
Now, for the negative. It’s going to be a turbulent decade for the men’s basketball program. The challenges facing the program are immense right now. And there has been little evidence to show improvement in the program’s ability to maintain the level it reached in 2016-17.
From a financial and logistical point of view, the athletic department will keep humming.
The first major sign of the post-Jim Phillips era was positive: Fitzgerald’s extension. (Phillips was technically still in charge for this, but it does serve as a vote of confidence in Northwestern’s post-Phillips future.) And, I think, things will just keep on keepin’ on. There will be changes and major decisions, of course. But not only did Phillips raise the profile of Northwestern’s athletics nationally, but set up the department for long-term success.
Northwestern athletics will add men’s/women’s hockey programs.
I’m not sure the about the logistical issues, the scholarship issues, and more. But, whatever. Let’s make this happen, please. Would Northwestern get smoked by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, etc. early on? No doubt. But this is a Field of Dreams situation. If you build it, they will come.
Ryan Field gets renovated … or wrecked.
It’s time. Maybe get some permanent lights? Is this the decade of an Aqua Dome in Lake Michigan?
Pat Fitzgerald will not be Northwestern’s head football coach in 2030.
Fitzgerald will be 56 in 10 years. His sons will be grown. And, at some point, the NFL or another challenge in college football will come calling with an offer that will be too good to pass up.
The women’s basketball program sustains its top-25 level.
The recruiting pipeline is getting stronger. The 2021 class has three top 100 players, according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz. The highlight: Hailey Weaver, ranked 35 in the country.
Consistent professional media coverage of Northwestern sports will continue to decrease.
The burdens on local media and their sports departments will only continue to grow. So the hardworking journalists that attend Northwestern will become even more important than they already are. Continue to support them and read their work. Nobody covers the ins and outs of your favorite sports teams better than the journalists doing the work every single day.
Chicago’s Big Ten Team, no more.
The marketing slogan that defined the 2010s will be retired. Once that happens, it’ll officially feel like a new decade. What’ll be next? Be a ‘Cat person?
From Inside NU’s Didi Jin: New Year’s resolutions for Northwestern sports
From the Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan: Jim Phillips begins his new job as ACC commissioner in February. But he leaves Northwestern in better shape than when he took the AD job in 2008.
From Inside NU’s Daniel Olinger: Why isn’t Miller Kopp getting more shots?
From the Daily Northwestern’s Greg Svirnovskiy: Mark and Brooks: Father son duo taking Indiana high school basketball by storm
From the Chicago Tribune’s Andrew Golden: 5 things to know about the Northwestern transfer quarterback Ryan Hilinski, including his time in the high school choir and tenure at South Carolina
From the Daily Northwestern’s John Riker: Wildcat football’s biggest win of the season comes at the end with Fitzgerald extension
From the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs: Rashawn Slater could be Northwestern’s highest NFL draft pick in 38 years, making the Wildcats pro day March 9 a major draw
That’s where we’ll end things. Thanks for sticking with 📵Blame the Phones.
Hopefully, we’ll meet again to talk about the ‘Cats, be it in your inbox or elsewhere.
Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas. I’d still love to hear them. I’ll keep this email address open.
Take care and stay safe,