Starting on Saturday, Dec. 27, InsideNU will be counting down the top five moments of the year in Northwestern sports. With an emphasis on the revenue sports, and from games to controversies to championships, we'll bring you one moment per day in descending order, with the top moment of 2014 being revealed on New Year's Eve.
Five years from now, when we look back on 2014, what will we recognize as the most important moment of the year? It probably actually won't be this one. It will be the No. 2 moment on our list, the one that was and is potentially part of a movement that could change college sports forever. Objectively, the unionization movement should have been No. 1 on this list.
But sports aren't judged objectively. They never have been, and never will be. Sports are driven by emotion. And there's a certain intangible value that that emotion can give to a memory or to a moment that overrides objective importance. After a frigid mid-November day in South Bend, this phenomenon needs no more explaining. Northwestern fans have lived it.
What occurred on Nov. 15, 2014 simply wasn't supposed to happen. Of the 85,000 people that entered Notre Dame Stadium that afternoon, 80,000 probably didn't even have the thought of it happening cross their minds. But as Rodger Sherman wrote back October, Northwestern football has become synonymous with the unexpected.
The game, which went back-and-forth, back-and-forth, is now just a blur. We don't recall the exact events. We just recall emotions being tossed and flung all over the place. You can watch the highlights to recall the specifics...
But if you really want to relive this day in all its glory, three aspects of our coverage are musts:
- The story of the game, which I described as "a wild, nonsensical, obscene, breathtaking and awesome ride." And I led with this:
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Just when you thought...
Those four words, and the ensuing ellipsis, are the only way to construct any thought about Northwestern football at the moment. And just when you thought that might not be the case anymore, that phrase, along with thrilling and emotionally-gripping football, reappeared once more. In fact, after Saturday, it is more prevalent than ever.
Just when you thought the Wildcats were dead, they rose. Just when you thought NU was doomed for another season with a premature ending, the Wildcats kept hopes alive. Just when you thought all was lost, they gave you reason to believe - to dream.
- Of course, the celebration thread, including video of Jack Mitchell's game winner and the victorious rendition of the fight song. One of my favorite parts about watching this back is a fellow reporter's reaction to Mitchell's kick splitting the uprights:
"Oh my God!... Oh my God!... [eight seconds of stunned silence] WHAT!?!"
- And lastly, our Kevin Trahan, after two straight grueling years of covering a consistently disappointing Northwestern team, wrote this great article with an impeccable title: "College football is always weird. Finally, it was also a lot of fun."
These are the type of memories that last a lifetime. Whether you were in the stadium, parked in front of your television, or had given up on the game altogether only to catch the final five minutes on your car radio, remember this. As Kevin wrote, sports suck sometimes. But it's moments like these that make all the agony worth it.