Northwestern, Illinois, and Wrigley Field: College Football Fail Of The Year

Dave WalkerCorrespondent INovember 19, 2010

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 18: A general view 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

If you haven't already heard, there is a big game this weekend at Wrigley Field, and no, it is not the Cubs' first World Series game in over 60 years.

This weekend, Northwestern, Chicago's Big Ten school hosts in-state rival Illinois in what has been billed as one of the most anticipated events in college football this year. The game, the first of the football variety to be played here since the Bears departed 40 years ago.

So the table had been set. Northwestern had sold out the venue. ESPN's College Gameday was on their way, and the coverage of a Northwestern game hadn't gotten as much attention since maybe the old Gary Barnett teams of the mid 90's.

Nothing could screw this one up, right?


On Friday it was announced the play would only occur from East to West due to safety concerns with the right field wall, err, I mean, East end zone. The dimensions are in fact so tight that the goal posts had to be attached to the wall itself.

All week the talk was of safety concerns. Would players go crashing into the wall? How do you not have someone get hurt with a padded brick wall only two feet from the back of the end zone?

Each coach had talked about specific game-plans when on offense heading into that particular end zone. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald had said that they obviously wouldn't run any "go" patterns because there was no place to go.

Now the place that the offense will go is towards the other end zone, on every drive, which makes for some interesting scenarios when it comes to change of possessions, turnovers, and the always concerning wind off of the lake.

The question about the dimensions and how the field would be configured should have probably been looked at a little more closely, when they first thought of having Wrigley host a game. They had months and months to come up with a way to configure this, and had to know that safety could have become an issue.

Now this weekend's game has gone from very cool and interesting, to being the joke of the college football season. On Saturday a college football game will look more like a sandlot game with losers walking.

The only questions left are: will there be a "Mississippi" count? And will the game be suspended because mom calls both teams in for lunch?