Random Thoughts: The 1995 vs The 2005 Season

10 years ago, Northwestern shocked the football world by suddenly rising from the ashes and striking down some of the football world's elite teams. Coach Roy has a few thoughts about the season that probably changed NU Football forever...

Make no bones about it...
Prior to 1995, NU was a pretty sorry place for intercollegiate athletics.

Sure, we had the occasional flashes of excellence - Women's Fencing, Field Hockey, Women's Basketball, Swimming, Women's Lacrosse, Soccer - but most of the other Big 10 teams came into Evanston expecting to get a win over the Wildcats, and they usually did.

We consoled ourselves with the cheer that ended, "you'll all work for us some day," but for some of us it was hard. For two years I worked in the center of big time football, Norman, Oklahoma at OU. There were a lot of alums working at OU, but nobody wore purple on saturdays.

Before the rise of the internet, you had to literally pull teeth to find out about your team. I was able to see glimpses of what was happening during the Denny Green era, he got a lot of national press coverage, but the rise of the Football team under Gary Barnett took me toally by surprise.

By 1995, I was living in Delaware, raising 3 boys with my wife, doing all the Little League stuff, coaching youth football, playing daddy, starting a business.

We were all excited about Cal Ripken's Iron Man record. I still have one of the "2131" balls on my desk. My son David had just made the Varsity as a freshman - That was the year he cut his long hair after making the team.

Its funny, but I don't even remember the Cats in the Rose Bowl - I'm sure we were out of town, probably in Ohio, where the Rose Bowl that year was a sore point.

But anyway...

Randy Walker was quoted this week as defining confidence as something you learn by having some successes and maybe that comment is the biggest difference between Walker and Gary Barnett coaching style.

Darnell Autrey has been quoted as saying that Gary Barnet told the squad that if they didn't think they could beat the Irish, they shouldn't get on the bus.

Even though there was no logical reason to think they could beat Notre Dame on the road, everyone got on the bus, and the Cats that day proved Walker's maxim that you earn confidence by learning that you're capable of success.

Barnett's team went on to the first of several upset victories in 1995, winning the Big 10. Oh yes, they lost to Randy Walker's Miami of Ohio the next week but they still played in the Rose Bowl.

We have two coaches who have been Rose Bowling - one coaching and the other on the field. I know both coach Brown and Fitzgerald want to return to Pasadena, so maybe one of the sources of this young team's confidence is in the collective knowledge that Brown and Fitz have been there.

There's been a lot of talk about how important this game is to both programs, but you know that if the Cats expect to go bowling this year, NIU has to be in the win column.

You know beating a good team really helps the old confidence.
-- da Coach

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