Friday, November 19, 2010

Wrigleyville Classic Reduced to One-Directional Game

Big news on the day before the Wrigleyville Classic, as a last-second change suddenly makes the NU-Illinois game much tougher logistically. This article by Chicago Tribune beat writer Teddy Greenstein details the issues regarding the east end zone and its use. As a result, both teams will be going west when playing offense.

This change is brought upon due to the fact that the NCAA called and informed the Big Ten and the NU athletic department that the field dimensions were in violation of their Football Rules and Regulations. I've hunted down the handbook, and you can read the diagrams of the field here. Scroll down to the bottom of page FR-18 and you'll see a diagram outlining that the "limit lines" of the field are established 12 feet away from the boundaries of play. A wall within about two feet from the endzone lines is kind of in the way of the limit lines, isn't it?

Needless to say, season ticket holders and other fans are irate about this last-minute change, because most of the "exciting" play is tilted toward the west half of the field. Anyone on the east side will be straining their eyes more than they expected in order to watch the game. And there are a lot of people who shoulder the blame for this decision. The NU athletics department and the Cubs management are primarily at fault, because they were the ones in charge of working out the field logistics in order to make this game work. However, both the Big Ten and the NCAA are also at fault here. The Big Ten is there to make sure that all events are in compliance with NCAA rules, so if they missed this rule, shame on them.

The NCAA is also to blame here, because they are the authority for field dimensions. As the governing body of major college sports, they establish the rules for how the game is played, and more importantly, what variations are allowed. I can't imagine that the NCAA didn't have to sign off on the field logistics a while ago when the NU-Wrigley agreement was being hammered out. If they simply missed this field rule until the very last second, then they need to shoulder the blame for not providing ample oversight of the rules they created. Now, if they signed off on a variance for the field for this game, saying that the close proximity to the wall is admissible, there is a much bigger issue at hand. It's not alright to say something's OK, and then come back the day before the event and suddenly say it's not OK.

My point is, there is a lot of blame going around the Northwestern blogosphere regarding this major logistical SNAFU, and most of it is pointed at the NU Athletics Office. I think that we need to remember that there are quite a few parties involved in making this game happen, and they all have responsibility for this problem.

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