Stories indexed with the term ‘Northwestern University’

Column: Reforming College Football

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Last week, in a surprising decision, the National Labor Relations Board granted the Northwestern University football players the right to unionize, if they want.

But what does that mean? What doesn’t it mean? And how might this change the future of college football?

The NLRB’s ruling made a big splash, but it’s actually very narrow. The decision applies only to private schools. There are only a handful or two that play big time college football – usually about one per major conference – a short list that includes universities like Duke, Rice, Vanderbilt, Stanford and USC. Further, the Northwestern players still have to vote to unionize – not a given – and no matter how they vote, the university is going to appeal the NLRB’s decision.

But the Wildcat players have been very shrewd, and will be hard to dismiss. That starts with their leader, senior quarterback Kain Colter. I got to know him pretty well while researching my latest book, “Fourth and Long,” and I can tell you he’s one of the more impressive young men to play the game today.

Colter is a pre-med major who often had to miss summer workouts to attend afternoon labs. The group he’s formed – the somewhat redundant College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) – is also wisely not asking for money, but post-graduate health care for injuries suffered while playing. Seems to me it’s pretty hard for any university – created to improve the lives of its students, after all – to argue against that. [Full Story]

Column: Northwestern’s Miracle Season

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Michigan plays Northwestern in Evanston tomorrow for the first time since 2007. The undefeated, 11th ranked Wolverines are favorites, but beating the Wildcats is no longer the easy game it used to be. Whatever happens this weekend, it can’t match what happened back in 1995.

Before 1995, the idea of Michigan losing to Northwestern was preposterous. In Bo Schembechler’s 21 years leading the Wolverines, he lost to every Big Ten team at least once – except Northwestern, which Bo’s teams beat by scores like 31-0, 35-0 and, yes, 69-0.

But back then, everybody beat up on the lowly Wildcats – often called the Mildcats. From the early ’70s to the mid ’90s, they had 17 really bad years, surrounding a stretch of six really, really bad years – when they won a grand total of three games against 62 defeats. Only the Washington Generals, who play every game against the Harlem Globetrotters, had a worse record.

Northwestern’s stadium seats half as many fans as Michigan’s, but they hadn’t sold it out since 1963. Some years, their attendance for the entire season was less than Michigan attracted for a single game. [Full Story]