SjT: Grading the 2005 Season

Stephen J. Truog has a reaction to some of the negative vibes around the message boards, then gives us his evaluation of the 2005 Northwestern Football Team...

As an NU fan excited about the team's sixth bowl appearance in school history, but...
I'm a bit dismayed that our main topic for the past two weeks has been calling for our coach's head after a 7-4 season.

As a teacher, however, I've read this grade discussion with a bit more interest ... Walker certainly didn't ace the 2005 season (not going for the kill early in the PSU game bit us), but I'm amazed that anyone could give the coach a failing grade.

Not only were expectations low at season's start (the "experts" and many on the list) ... but they worsened after the preseason injuries and the disaster in the desert against (what was then a pretty good) ASU and the heartbreak to PSU (who no one expected to win the Big Ten back then).

To get a 7-4 mark by season's end against the #3 schedule in the country has to take SOME coaching ability, no matter how much some folks dislike the guy (and personally, I like a coach who's no-nonsense and all football instead of one who loves the camera on him, plays games in the press and likes getting his picture taken around town).

But now that the season's over and ASU and NIU have won necessary games this weekend, let's look back again at that schedule, because as a teacher, you do need to remember to grade on the level of test attempted. And NU's 2005 test was pretty steep, making the 7-4 mark even more remarkable.

We knew coming into the season that we had a tough schedule - and even some fans like me who wear purple-colored glasses were hard pressed to find six wins. But preseason can be deceiving at times (look at Notre Dame's schedule), so upon post-season review ...
  • 7 of our 11 games were against teams going bowling in 2005-06
  • 4 of our 11 foes were top 10 at some point in the season
  • 8 of our 11 foes were top 15 at some point in the season (MSU and Purdue peaked at #11, UW and ASU at#14)
  • 2 of our losses will come to BCS teams if OSU is chosen
  • 2 of our 4 non-bowl foes were teams ranked at one point in the season (MSU, Purdue) and just missed abowl at 5-6.
  • Our 2 "easy" games were the season opener against a better-than-expected Ohio team and a final game against rival Illinois.
So finishing in 3rd place in the Big Ten with a 7-4 mark for that schedule clearly merits a passing grade. I'd say a B for 2005.
GO CATS!!!
-SjT

Stephen J. Truog, former NU Marching Band member and now educator
comments on the Wildcats from both the sidelines and his home out west.
He has his own NU oriented Web Site Visit SjTonline

You can send your direct comments or "back door" information
directly to Coach Roy [CoachRoy74 on AIM]
[or comment on the Purple Boards]
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