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InsideNU in 2014: Our top 30 stories of the year

From all of us here at InsideNU, we'd like to wish all of our regular readers and anybody and everybody that stumbled upon our site in 2014 a happy new year. Thank you for reading. We had a ton of fun covering Northwestern sports throughout the year, and we hope you enjoyed our coverage. We look forward to another great year in 2015.

To commemorate the new year, we've compiled our top 30 stories of 2014. Whether you only started reading recently and want to see what you missed earlier in the year (including before the move to SB Nation), or you just want to review some of our best work, enjoy:

Jan. 20: Northwestern students and alumni wear the "nerd" badge with honor, and have even embraced the nickname "Nerdwestern." So why do NU's football and basketball coaches seem averse to advanced stats? Kevin Trahan discussed that phenomenon.

Jan. 23: After a frighteningly bad start to Big Ten play, Northwestern basketball had to evolve. As Josh Rosenblat wrote, a humble Chris Collins made that possible.

Feb. 5: We don't often get a lot of insight into the inner workings of Pat Fitzgerald and his staff's recruiting. On Signing Day, Kevin Trahan pressed Fitzgerald on whether or not recruiting policies were changing.

Feb. 20: Easily the most divisive issue in Northwestern sports in 2014 was the union. We'll revisit more of our stories on it when the decision on the appeal comes, but here's Kevin Trahan on how it created an image problem for NU.

Mar. 6: Drew Crawford is one of the best players in Northwestern basketball history, and as Henry Bushnell wrote ahead of his final game at Welsh-Ryan Arena, as the end neared, a love and a legacy lingered.

Apr. 5: When Pat Fitzgerald faced the media for the first time after the union decision, it was only appropriate to publish a full transcript. His consistent reversions to the words "educate" and "fact" were hilarious.

May 7: Medill hosted an event at Northwestern where BTN's Dave Revsine sat down with Doug and Chris Collins to tell the tale of their rich basketball lives. A lot of cool stories came out of it, including Doug's admission that he was originally against Chris taking the NU job, but was convinced by Jim Phillips and Morty.

May 13: One of the not so good byproducts of the unionization movement was that everybody had an opinion, and many of the opinions that mattered were irrationally influenced by personal biases and institutional motives. Kevin Trahan was critical of Phillips' views.

June 9: Henry Bushnell sat down with Kale Abrahamson for a revealing interview after the now-former Northwestern basketball player announced he would transfer. Abrahamson not only discussed his frustrations during his time at Northwestern, he also gave insight into what goes on behind the scenes under Chris Collins.

Aug. 1: Kevin Trahan did some outstanding analysis of how Northwestern football rated as a developmental program.

Aug. 11: Kevin also got a lot of angry tweets and e-mails from Wisconsinites...

Over the summer, Josh Rosenblat did three awesome features on Northwestern football players:

July 31: Collin Ellis came remarkably close to quitting football altogether prior to his junior season. A year later, he was starting at middle linebacker and a lynchpin for NU's defense.

Aug. 6: Kyle Prater has a pretty interesting story. So Josh answered the simple but complex question: who is he?

Aug. 24: Ifeadi Odenigbo was one of the highest rated recruits ever to choose Northwestern. But he only started playing football in high school, and with the game still new to him, for Odenigbo, it's still all just about having fun.

Sep. 3: Northwestern's offense regressed significantly in 2014. Henry Bushnell broke down some of the problems and showed how NU and Mick McCall were deviating from basic spread principles that made past offenses so successful.

Sep. 6: Kevin Trahan opined that "Northwestern started losing when it stopped being Northwestern."

In the months leading up to Northwestern's basketball season, we did several interesting features on the team's individual players:

June 2: Alex Olah had a disappointing start to his career at Northwestern. But last season, something clicked, and as Olah's confidence grew, so did his game. Here's Henry Bushnell on Olah's transformation from passive newcomer to self-proclaimed celebrity.

Oct. 15: Dave Sobolewski was a complete non-factor during his junior season, part of which was derailed by a concussion. Heading into his senior year, he had one last shot to prove himself - a situation with which his coach, Chris Collins, was uncannily familiar.

Oct. 23: Johnnie Vassar went to four different high schools in four years, and was a complete unknown coming to Northwestern. Kevin Trahan tried to explain who NU's lightning quick point guard is.

Oct. 28: Henry Bushnell went in-depth on JerShon Cobb's seemingly incessant battle with injuries. With Cobb struggling again this year to stay healthy, this piece is particularly relevant.

Nov. 13: Josh Rosenblat's feature on Bryant McIntosh might have been read by every single person in Greensburg, Ind.

Nov. 14: In 2013, Josh Rosenblat wrote a great longform story on Chris Collins' vision for Northwestern. This past year, Henry Bushnell looked into how that vision is taking shape.

Nov. 21: Vic Law came to Evanston with as much hype as any Northwestern recruit... ever. Daniel Rapaport wrote about a mature Law and how he was ready to shoulder the burden of expectations.

Nov. 8: How can you forget the pitiful absurdity that was the Northwestern-Michigan game? Rather than be critical though, Kevin Trahan and Kevin Dukovic decided to "embrace the suck."


Nov. 8: Now that we know Northwestern's entire coaching staff will be back in 2015, it's interesting to look back on the anger that the program brought about earlier in the season.

Nov. 15: Full coverage from Notre Dame:

- Finally, after so many heartbreaking defeats, Northwestern could embrace the unexpected. Henry Bushnell documented NU's improbable win.

- Our celebration thread.

- College football is always weird. As Kevin Trahan wrote, a lot of times it sucks. But finally, it was really fun too.

Dec. 3: When Michigan fired Brady Hoke, Daniel Rapaport wrote a controversial but very well-reasoned piece on what Northwestern can learn from the situation in Ann Arbor.