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SCREWED!!! Tonight's Episode -- Northwestern Football, 1995
Nobody in well-fed society today has it harder then a natural athlete who has showed enough promise academically that his parents think he can get into Northwestern. All sports dreams are literally shelved. All joy in life is curbed. You're about to let your parents achieve their lifelong dream of molding you into an extension of them, and what an extension! Northwestern University!
Some people when they do painkillers have unfortunately ended up in a situation where all their good thoughts on a situation come after taking them, meanwhile NOT taking them makes them think about the SAME EXACT INCIDENT but the BAD parts about them. Why? Because they're good in the first place due to motivation based on mentally reliving and attacking the worst moment of their lives. Ever have someone point a gun at you? It's not like in the movies. You don't just get over it. Part of why generals are so hard on soldiers is because they want to fill their heads with moments so traumatic in camp that it will give the soldier's mind more things to choose from when he faces a moment in battle when he may otherwise think of that gun to his head.
And that is why what happened in 1995 at Northwestern is unbelievable. Out of nowhere comes this group led by Gary Barnett that beats #3 Notre Dame in South Bend 17-13. The scene in Evanston is like they had won the national championship. It extends all the way south to James Park which is over four miles.
And then the next week, they lose to Miami of Ohio on a blocked punt that got returned into the endzone. Northwestern led at that point and lost.
So here came coach Gary Barnett, dealing with something right out of the book of George Karl. He thinks to himself -- how am I gonna rally these guys now? They beat Notre Dame only to lose to Miami of Ohio, how did we go from becoming two completely different teams in the span of a week?
Ha. And that was how he comes up with precisely the thing to say to them --
"Fellas, for the rest of the season, we can either be the team that beat Notre Dame, or the team that lost to Miami of Ohio. Your choice."
That made so much sense to these guys who are both smart and athletically gifted, and served to be probably the one thing that you could say to a bunch of obcessive minds to make them feel better. The worst possible memory of the same situation, fellas, or the best. It's up to YOU which one you want to live out. They're looking in the long term, they're remembering all those old wounds that football glory was supposed to fix, and they were left the annoying combination of -- on top of being busy all day long -- now having MORE work and with LESS appreciation. Well Barnett changed all that with this simple phrase. (true story)
And the rest of the season would be magical. They beat Michigan IN Michigan because of their defense, intercepting Brian Griese in the final minute in the endzone while already up by 4. They beat Iowa, they beat Penn State, they beat Wisconsin, they beat Michigan State, all these people.
And then they lose our star linebacker Pat Fitzgerald to a broken leg.
DOESN'T MATTER!!! We win the Big 10 title after Michigan's Tim Biakabatuka (?) puts up like 350 rushing yards on Eddie George's Ohio State Buckeyes, giving us the only team in the Big Ten with an 8-0 record.
Northwestern players were featured on the Wheaties box. They were on the Tonight Show. They were on Howard Stern. This was something that made academics everywhere really really proud. Right here in the era when college sports was being deemed useless and even detrimental to a good player, when Kevin Garnett was spending his first season showing everyone that high school players could do well in the NBA and giving all college seniors stigmas, here was the most demanding school that tried to compete for a major sports championship actually doing the job. It's important to note that parents of good athletes such as myself started to get really hard on us, assuming that most of us were holding back effort.
So they get to the Rose Bowl and we end up playing USC. It was in this game that Keyshawn Johnson first got famous. He caught everything and taunted Northwestern and did everything he wanted to them. And the next year he was a New York Jet and published a book called "Just Throw Me The Damn Ball!" that got him traded.
Darnell Autry would be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles but almost never play. It was deemed that Northwestern's star running back was not big enough to be a pro.
Pat Fitzgerald is now Northwestern's football coach. They do good. Because Fitzgerald is the white Mike Singletary. See how the 49ers beat the NFC Champion Cardinals the other week? Eh?
Steve Schnur was the quarterback. Just in case you like trivia.
And now, let's go about 10 miles south from Ryan Field...