Illinois-Northwestern Preview: Wrigley Field Not Designed for Football

Kyle W. BrownContributor IINovember 19, 2010

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 18: A general view of a goalpost mounted to the right field wall as the Northwestern Wildcats practice for a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday November 20 at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tomorrow's football game between Northwestern & Illinois is one that was expected to be a classic.

With the game being played at the historic Wrigley Field, it was supposed to be a grand occurrence featuring a great Illinois rivalry being played at arguably one of the most famous buildings in the entire state.

Well, the game will certainly be a classic. But now it will be for the strangeness and confusion that is sure to happen on the field.

You see, Wrigley Field is not designed to host football games. Now that the field is set up, the NCAA is thinking something along the lines of: What the hell were we thinking?

Photo belongs to NBC-Chicago

The problem: the east end zone has about one yard between the back of the end zone to a solid brick wall. This makes a recipe for disaster should a quarterback try to lead a receiver to the back of the end zone.

But, the NCAA has come up with a quick fix to this problem. Both teams are going to attack the west end zone, all game long.

In case you didn't hear that right, I'll break down the plan.

All kickoffs will head toward the east end zone, meaning the returner will be heading to the (safe) west end zone.

Every offensive position will head toward the west end zone.

That means that if Illinois picks off a pass and gets tackled at their own 20-yard line, the referees will pick up the ball and run down the field to place the ball at the opposite 20. This ensures that the Illini's offense are heading toward the west end zone.

Lastly, the teams will switch benches at halftime.

Confused yet?

It's obviously a good thing that the Big Ten and NCAA are making these rule changes to protect the players in the game. But one would think that they might have realized this massive flaw in the stadium a little bit in advance, not one day before the game.

The game will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for players on both teams, as well as fans.

But now these unique rules have added an another reason for it.