It's almost time for the 2010 season to begin, but first, we'll take a look at a rather eventful offseason that's transpired since Northwestern's heartbreaking overtime loss to Auburn in the Outback Bowl on January 1st.
First, National Signing Day came on February 3rd and Northwestern inked another solid recruiting class that met Coach Fitzgerald's stringent requirements for attributes on and off the playing field. The list of incoming freshmen include some potential starting offensive linemen and a solid quarterback from Florida.
While the class didn't feature anyone above four stars from the often maligned recruiting websites, it has a number of recruits who possessed offers from other respectable BCS conference programs while still meeting Northwestern's academic and Fitzgerald's personality requirements.
Next up came the official announcement of the game at Wrigley Field to be played on November 20th against Illinois. It will not only be a key point in Northwestern football history (the 'Cats also played Illinois there on October 27, 1923, but no football game has been played at Wrigley since the Bears moved out following the 1970 season), but also a key component in AD Jim Phillips' drive to increase attendance.
Later in the summer, it was confirmed that the start time of the game would be 2:30PM (Central Time), which would allow NU to maximize local attention and attendance to the contest.
Then came the avalanche of rumors related to major college football conference re-alignments, followed by a historically significant move as Nebraska formally joined the Big Ten on June 11th.
Although the more outlandish scenarios like the "Pac-16" (that were actually being peddled by conference commissioners) didn't come to fruition, the college football landscape is set to change significantly in 2011 after conference schedule-makers and member athletic departments scurry to make changes within a short time frame for such a transition (note that it took Penn State basically four full years to integrate after their formal admission in 1990).
Details on Big Ten divisional alignments and a very probable football championship game are likely to come out in August, giving us one more item of interest before the 2010 season actually kicks off over Labor Day weekend.
Seemingly lost in all that was the 2010 Spring Game , where nothing too eventful happened, but that isn't always a bad thing (remember WR Kevin Frymire breaking his leg early in a contest a couple of years ago, which ended with him losing the entire subsequent season to injury). It was clear that QB Dan Persa will be the leader of the offense in 2010, and there would still likely be a running back "by committee;" otherwise, things were left pretty open going into Camp Kenosha.
And one significant change we all may very well see when NU takes the field this fall is a potential new uniform , which is yet to be confirmed but has been rumored by numerous outlets. It doesn't look to be a wholesale change on what NU has now, but it will likely feature more black (think of the uniforms from the early '90s through 2002) and Northwestern stripes.
Now that we're all caught up, head over to the HailToPurple's media prediction roundup to see what the "experts" are predicting for Northwestern on the field in 2010.
My full predictions and analysis are coming up shortly, and after that: the actual games!