NOTE: This is most definitely NOT a piece of journalism. This is a piece of fiction — fanfiction, if you will — written by my permanently dilapidated mind. If you read Inside NU for real news, this article is not for you. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
In honor of the very solid Wrestlemania 33 that wrapped up last Sunday night, Inside NU presents the Northwestern Coaches’ Royal Rumble...
In some alternate universe, Northwestern is desperate for cash to fund its massive new facilities. Jim Phillips decides to make all the Northwestern coaches compete in a large no-holds-barred fighting contest (that may or may not be scripted). The winner gets one million dollars and a relaxation of academic standards in recruiting for three years. The losers all get a large pay cut.
The Athletic Department decides to hold the event at Ryan Field and sell tickets to the public. The event is billed “for charity”, but the stakes are real.
(NOTE: No coaches were harmed in the making of this article.)
The event will be held in a “Royal Rumble” format. For those unfamiliar with professional wrestling, a Royal Rumble usually involves 30 or so contestants who are sent into the squared circle in a random order. Fighter No. 1 fights Fighter No. 2, and the winner has to take on Fighter No. 3. Obviously, the order which you are drawn plays a huge role in success. This is not the most fair system, but it is wildly entertaining. The 19 coaches have been randomly sorted.
If you get knocked out or concede, you lose. All definitions of this are determined by the referee.
Coaches are allowed to bring up to two materials used in their sport into the arena.
Medical personnel will be on hand to perform concussion tests, we swear.
There may be some guest stars.
The Contestants (in alphabetical order):
Spencer Allen - baseball
Chris Collins - men’s basketball
Shane Davis - women’s volleyball
Kate Drohan - softball
Emily Fletcher - women’s golf
Pat Fitzgerald - football
Tracey Fuchs - field hockey
‘A Havahla Haynes - women’s cross-country and track
Kelly Amonte Hiller - women’s lacrosse
David Inglis - men’s golf
Tim Lenahan - men’s soccer
Joe McKeown - women’s basketball
Zach Moss - women’s fencing
Michael Moynihan - women’s soccer
Claire Pollard - women’s tennis
Jarod Schroeder - men’s swimming and diving
Arvid Swan - men’s tennis
Abby Steketee - women’s swimming and diving
Matt Storniolo - wrestling
The event opens with Bill Carmody, master of ceremonies, bringing Abby Steketee and Spencer Allen onto the field. Allen has a baseball bat. Steketee has a large sky-blue flotation device. The crowd roars as the first-ever Northwestern Royal Rumble begins in earnest. There are somehow still very few students in the crowd, despite the absurdity of this situation.
The center stage is a regulation-size boxing ring. The floor is purple. The ropes are white. There is a large “N” in the center where Jim Phillips stands, wearing a referee’s uniform, waiting to get things started.
Steketee cleverly uses the flotation device as a shield in the opening seconds. Allen is caught off-guard by the tactic and is suddenly tripped. It’s a battle between quickness and strength as Steketee continues to evade any hammer blows while also looking for an opportunity to counterpunch. But the strategy starts to fail as Allen switches tactics and swings for the legs.
In a totally not-staged move, Allen tries a spinning backhand with his baseball bat and Steketee goes down. Carmody sends in Zach Moss, who is wielding a saber. It’s a battle between sword and bat. Spencer Allen takes a huge cut, but Zach Moss dodges and delivers a blow to the baseball coach with his saber. It’s a good hit, and Allen stumbles briefly. Zach Moss abandons the sword and tackles Allen to put him in a headlock. But Allen is ready for it and upends Moss, leading to a old-fashioned clench on the floor.
Phillips, acting as referee, breaks the two up. Moss retrieves his sword but his one clever move has been wasted. Allen fakes the bat and then delivers a punch to the face. Moss staggers and is wheeled off the circle. But with Allen tired, Joe McKeown heads into the ring immediately with a giant cart of basketballs. He rams Spencer Allen and the baseball coach is done, not lasting more than three rounds. There’s a cannon that goes off, Hunger Games style, but it’s also rigged for the awful “cat roar” sound effect that plays on the PA system at Ryan Field.
But McKeown, who did enough to beat one man, now has to deal with Claire Pollard of women’s tennis, who is dual-wielding two tennis rackets. It’s a questionable choice, as McKeown is using basketballs as makeshift projectiles, which cannot really be blocked by a tennis racket. McKeown is throwing a basketball per second, using his endless knowledge of sound passing, and the “blizzard thrown” at Pollard knocks both rackets out. McKeown takes what remains of the ball cart and takes down Pollard.
Carmody, like a World War I general sending out cannon fodder into the breach at the Somme in 1916, sends out Matt Storniolo, the wrestling coach. With McKeown’s gimmicks exhausted, Storniolo immediately rips him down. McKeown’s out. Jarod Schroeder clambers into the ring, but Storniolo, who wrestled throughout college and high school, is far too quick. Schroeder is dispatched in about five seconds and Phillips pauses the action to remove Schroeder, who still wants in but cannot seem to get off the tarmac.
Storniolo, having dispatched two coaches in about 20 seconds, now faces Emily Fletcher. Storniolo entered the ring thinking items would slow him down. Fletcher took the opposite approach. She barrels in with a golf club, a rather unfair weapon, but Storniolo deals with the pressure and Fletcher is retired. She should’ve stuck with the 9-iron. However, this battle took a full two minutes, and Storniolo is starting to get fatigued. Arvid Swan has forgotten his tennis racket for this event, but wrestles with Storniolo for about 35 seconds before he retires from the match.
Still, he looks unbeatable for the moment, but Kate Drohan sweeps in with a mission. She is using a softball bat, but she’s also in full catcher’s gear. Then, to the shock of the crowd, Drohan tags in her sister, Caryl Drohan. It’s pandemonium! BAH GAWD THAT’S CARYL DROHAN’S MUSIC! Storniolo complains to Phillips, who looks down at the floor and shrugs. Carmody, that mad genius, has played a guest star at a perfect time!
The wrestling coach now has two enemies, both in full catcher’s gear with metal bats. They look like a real-life version of the Ice Climbers in the arena. Kate and Caryl don’t bother with tactics. They go after Storniolo and send him sprawling to the floor with a flurry of swings. The wrestling coach is done.
Now, Pat Fitzgerald enters the stage. His walk-up music is “Sandstorm” by Darude, of course.
The crowd goes wild. This is what they came to see. Fitz comes in wearing full pads. For the first time since 1995, the crowd is seeing Fitz in his true form. It’s Super Saiyan time. He simply absorbs Caryl Drohan’s swing and quickly takes out the first Drohan. The other Drohan is a more formidable opponent. Abandoning the blind charge that took out the blindsided Storniolo, Drohan waits for the right chance to strike. But it never comes. Fitz, channeling his inner linebacker, dodges a feeble softball bat stiff arm and takes down Kate Drohan. A huge *RAWR* explodes from the PA system.
Now Tracey Fuchs, carrying a large hockey stick and some goalie gear, trudges into the ring. Fitz, now completely amped up, goes for the bullrush but Fuchs cleverly throws the stick out to trip Fitzgerald. With Fitzgerald on the ground, the situation looks dire, but without her stick, Fuchs can’t really do much to hurt Fitz. The ex-linebacker slowly rises and throws Fuchs out of the ring.
But the ensuing crowd noise is not for Fitz, it’s for Chris Collins, who has dramatically arrived with the entire basketball team by his side. After Northwestern’s first NCAA Tournament run, Collins’ popularity may have exceeded the longtime incumbent. This is what we’ve all been waiting for.
Collins has no props. He’s going for this mano e mano, despite wearing a full suit.
“FITZ IS MINE!” he shouts into a conveniently placed microphone. The tension is palpable, and Collins, as ever, is confident.
But Fitzgerald, sneakingly suspecting something like this would happen, is ready. He takes off his helmet. It’s going to be an old-fashioned, bare-knuckle brawl. Collins enters the stage. The two men circle, and then Collins throws a short jab. Fitz ducks out of the way and responds with a right cross to the chest. But one punch won’t take out Collins, and the basketball coach fires back with another jab to the face. There’s a boxing clench. Fitz gets the better of it and hits Collins in the shoulder with another stern right fist.
Collins then pulls a crazy MMA maneuver (you just know Collins is the type of guy to go to MMA gyms in his spare time) that Fitz, expecting a classic Ali/Frazier-style duel, does not see coming. Collins brings his left foot, with sneakers supporting the International Medical Corps, into Fitzgerald’s face. Then, Collins shoves an elbow as Fitz crashes to the ground. Fitz should’ve kept the helmet on.
Then, a whistle. A gasp goes up from the crowd.
“TECHNICAL FOUL!” Jim Phillips cries. After 7 minutes and 42 seconds of review, he adds, “That’s a Flagrant 2! Collins is ejected!”
Collins flies into a rage and begins to flail his arms wildly. Bill Carmody shrugs. Fitz gets off the mat, ready to fight, only to watch Collins get escorted off the court by Vic Law and Tino Malnati. Meanwhile, the trainers haphazardly check Fitz for a concussion, sit around for a minute, and then wish him well.
David Inglis now strolls in with a golf club and takes a good swing at Fitzgerald. However, the Northwestern head foot-brawl coach again ducks out of the way and tackles Inglis’ legs. Fitz was feeling the pain of that Collins kick and in bad shape. Carmody sends Moynihan and ‘A Havahla Haynes out simultaneously, in blatant disregard for the rules. But still, Fitzgerald keeps on fighting, taking out Moynihan with a swift punch to the face. Haynes proves to be more difficult. As the coach with the most endurance, Fitz is forced to chase Haynes all around the ring. Eventually, Phillips gets tired of it and clotheslines Haynes for no apparent reason.
“MAKE-UP CALL!” Phillips shouted.
“You’re not supposed to say it’s a make-up call!” Carmody replied.
Next up is Tim Lenahan, the men’s soccer coach. Lenahan drills a long-range free kick from outside the area directly into Fitz’s stomach. But once Lenahan enters the ring, he’s no match for an ex-football player running on blind rage. Shane Davis then spikes 17 volleyballs at Fitz, most of which are supplied by the crowd. But Fitz, with his helmet back on, deflects one back at Davis and knocks the volleyball coach out cold. Bad luck.
Finally, Kelly Amonte Hiller, the bringer of dynasties, walks in. Fitz, exhausted after battling his colleagues, now has to face the most terrifying of them all. Wearing a mask and with a lacrosse stick in hand, Amonte Hiller takes her first swing. It hits Fitz in the kidney, and he goes down. The crowd goes silent. Fitz gets up quickly, but Phillips has declared it all over. It’s a stunning heel turn for Hiller, who looks like she will be the main antagonist in the future.
It was a clinical, effective win, the sort of performance that wins 7 national titles. Would Fitz have won had he gone 17th? Most likely. We also have to consider the questionable Flagrant 2 called on Chris Collins midway through the Royal Rumble. Fitz just did not have enough to break the proverbial plane, and Amonte Hiller was there to capitalize.
This Pat Fitzgerald effort just couldn’t beat its projections. I’m sure his FE+ (fight efficiency) will show that he’s a heavy favorite next time around. Make sure to read our player grades—
That concludes the 2017 Northwestern coaches’ Royal Rumble. Who knows, maybe this will actually happen someday. Probably not though.