Weekly Wildcat Watch

In this Weekly Wildcat Watch, Purple Reign found some interesting articles surrounding Coach Fitz's Hall of Fame enshrinement, including one that takes a look back at Fitz's last trip to South Bend...when he was a player. Also, seems like we are smack-dab in the middle of prediction season, as multiple outlets are looking into the crystal ball. Stories come from USA Today, ESPN, NY Times and more.

Let's start this week with the College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, which took place in South Bend, Ind., on Saturday.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, of course, was part of the festivities, earning a spot in the Hall alongside the likes of Thurman Thomas, Troy Aikman, Lou Holtz and numerous others. In fact, here is an article from Sporting News about how this year's class represents difference eras and different styles of football.

With a more Northwestern slant, ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg looked at the symmetry of Fitz's return to South Bend.

On that day -- Sept. 2, 1995 -- Fitzgerald and his unheralded Northwestern teammates pulled off an improbable upset of then-No. 9 Notre Dame. They went on to win the Big Ten championship and reach the Rose Bowl, completing one of the most unlikely and incredible stories in recent college football history....

"I thought about it [Wednesday] night," Fitzgerald said Thursday as he drove to South Bend. "We had just gotten back from Florida for vacation, and I was unpacking and repacking to go. I thought to myself, 'The last time I was in South Bend, we won 17-15.' I haven't been back since."

Some more straight recaps of the festivities can be found from the Sports Network, South Bend Tribune, USA Today and Associated Press.

A few interesting tidbits of lamentation from the weekend, include a quote from Ohio State's John Cooper and an article about Troy Aikman.

From Cooper: "I would love to get back coaching. I miss coaching. I miss the competition. I miss game day. I don't miss compliance and academics and recruiting."

And from Aikman:

"The one I regret I have on any level is that I didn't lead a team to the Rose Bowl," the three-time Super Bowl champion said. "I think a lot of times in the NFL a quarterback is measured by whether or not you lead a team to a championship. For me at UCLA, it was whether or not you led your team to the Rose Bowl. I failed to do that."

And finally, an interesting article from the South Bend Tribune about Thurman Thomas' rise to college stardom.

Moving away from the Hall enshrinement, here is an article from about how Randy Walker's embrace and execution of the spread offense has influenced local high schools to run similarly wide-open sets.

Randy Walker died of a heart attack more than three years ago, but his influence can still be seen through the shotgun formations he installed at Northwestern....

Nobody shows up cold in August to start working on fullback dives.

Another article related to Walker can be found here. This one's about Libertyville coach Randy Kuceyeski, who received the Randy Walker Coaches Award.

"Randy has made a big impact on so many peoples' lives," said Tammy Walker, widow of the late Northwestern football coach. "It's something for which he should be very proud. Football is a wonderful game and it certainly has enriched both of our families' lives."

For you gamblers out there, this Web site handicaps all the Big Ten teams' chances of going to a BCS bowl. The odds for the entire conference are listed below. The Wildcats are in pretty inglorious company.

Ohio State +150

Penn State +250

Iowa +550

Michigan State +550

Illinois +650

Wisconsin +900

Michigan +1000

Minnesota +2500

Northwestern +2500

Indiana +6300

Purdue +8000

USA Today offers up another look at the Big Ten – sans the gambling angle – with this article.

This is a marathon blog entry – marathon in a good way – by the New York Times, part of their countdown to the No. 1 team in the nation. Northwestern came in at No. 47 – they were 60 last season – and author Paul Myerberg echoes sentiments that Purple Reign brought up this week about the asteroid-sized questions at running back.

Game(s) to watch: The month of November. Northwestern will start strong, but where the team ends up in the Big Ten will depend on how it finishes. With Iowa and Illinois coming on the road, the season finale against Wisconsin becomes very big....

With the toughest game through mid-October – Minnesota – coming at home, Northwestern has a shot at heading to Michigan State on Oct. 17 at 6-0. I wouldn't be surprised to see the team slip up before then, but the worst-case scenario entering the heart of Big Ten play is for the Wildcats to stand at 4-2. From there, I have no doubt that the Wildcats will nab at least two wins and return to bowl play. Do I have this team repeating its nine regular-season wins of 2008? No, I don't.

Over on the hardwood, this Examiner.com story talks about Northwestern's summer basketball schedule. Wish there was more hoops news to talk about, but it looks like we're mired in a post-U19 Championship lull.

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