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Inside NU Mailbag: Best Fitz-isms, Roman history, and tennis

The new administration approves of mailbags.

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Northwestern vs Pittsburgh Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Did you know that Inside NU dot com has not had a mailbag since Henry Bushnell and Josh Rosenblat ended their terms as editors-in-chief? Mailbags are not the greatest thing that journalism has ever produced (#medillionaire), but I’ve always wanted to write one, so here we are.

Let’s just get started.

Best and worst Fitz-ism?


Best Fitz-ism: “Stats are for losers.”

For one, the media seems to take Pat Fitzgerald extremely seriously whenever he says this. Since Pat Fitzgerald is the stereotypical ex-player-turned-coach, it’s easy for the media to place him as an ardent defender of the old school and a hater of stats. Of course, I highly doubt Fitz actually believes that stats are for losers. For one, the fourth line he said at Big Ten Media Days was:

“Last year, the last nine games of the season we averaged a little over 30 points, (about 30.3), in comparison to our first four games that we were sitting about 16.3.”

That was before talking about any of his players, his famously durable coaching staff, and other typical coachspeak things. I couldn’t recall any other Big Ten coach making a big deal of any statistic in the first minute of their statements, regardless of whether this reference is to the extremely simple “points scored”. So yeah, I’m pretty sure Pat Fitzgerald cares about stats, which is why certain people loving the “stats are for losers” line is so funny to me.

Worst Fitz-ism: “Competitive depth.”

Hear me out on this one. I dislike this phrase because it is completely meaningless. Every single football team has competitive depth, from Pop Warner to the NFL. If you aren’t competing to make an impact on the field, why are you even there? Bragging or referencing your team’s competitive depth is like a surgeon referencing that he performs surgeries. If Northwestern has really good depth at a position, just say you have strong depth at a position!

“Competitive depth” is a nonsensical concept but pleasant-sounding enough to just get passed over by those who listen to it. Also, when you Google competitive depth, you will learn that Tennessee’s Butch Jones is now prominently featuring the term in interviews, which is a really, really bad sign. If Fitz ever starts talking about the “Championship of Life”, a famous Butch Jones-ism, I promise I will walk out of the press conference room immediately and BigVolDaddy will take my place.

Will you get a Bingo this year on the Fitz Press Conference Bingo Card?

Expect victory.

(Also, we already failed to get Bingo at Media Days. We did get Bingo at Signing Day earlier this year.)

We know Godwin is taking a leadership role, but Who do you think takes the biggest step on the defense in terms of production?

The obvious answer is cornerback Keith Watkins, but his uptick in production is mostly due to him missing all of last season with an injury. Thus, I think the better answer would be linebacker Nate Hall, who has spent much of his career overshadowed by Anthony Walker. Hall had 6 tackles for loss last year, 41 unassisted tackles, and was quite good when Northwestern’s defense stopped being abysmal from Weeks 5-Pinstripe Bowl. Hall is only a redshirt junior, and I think he is going to be one of the main guys on the defense.

You have to choose three ESPN Medill Men with whom you must spend 3 months on a desert island...who will it be?

Adande, Schefter, and Rachel Nichols (“Medill Men”, like “Azor Ahai”, better be genderless if you want me to answer this question). Adande will be there for moral support and interesting conversations, Schefter would volunteer to do all actual work, and Rachel Nichols is one of the most competent journalists I’ve seen, so I’m sure her survival skills are good.

Greenberg gets axed because you can’t rely on Jets fans in tough situations. Rovell would just try to Tweet about being on a desert island and how the coconuts are top-notch. Wilbon would complain about the palm trees ruining journalism with all their shade.

What is the age of the oldest human child whom you think you would be able to best in tennis using only your non-dominant hand?

Seven, maybe six. I refer you to this paragraph I wrote about tennis camp on my personal blog, Forget the Protocol.

NOTE: I have zero fine motor skills that I can perform left-handed.

Ben Goren (@BenG412) Questions:

Former Inside NU editor Ben Goren asked me way too many questions, so he gets his own section. Yes, I slightly regret saying I would answer everything.


-Marcus Aurelius
-Scipio Africanus
-Julius Caesar

I agree with Shakespeare. I don’t like Julius Caesar very much.

When will Kei Nishikori make The Leap

When his body is healthy for over 18 months at a time. So never.

Does it rule knowing a lot about Roman history so you can track the fall of the American Empire piece by piece?

I dislike America->Roman Republic comparisons. You cannot really compare the ancient world to the modern, it is simply too much of a stretch given the technological differences. However, that’s a lame answer, so I’ll just throw a quote from Plutarch’s lives and pretend I am smart.

“But the senate in its session accomplished nothing, owing to the prevailing influence of the wealthy class in it, and therefore Tiberius resorted to a measure which was illegal and unseemly, the ejection of Octavius from his office; but he was unable in any other way to bring his law to the vote.”

-The Life of Tiberius Gracchus, Plutarch

Was Commodus elite?

Also a comparison of the eliteness of Real Life Commodus versus The Gladiator's version of Commodus would be appreciated please and thank you (from Fake Coach Fitz again).

Commodus was not elite. He was dangerously crazy. He only cared about popular support from his “fans” and left the governing apparatus of the Roman Empire in complete chaos. He was completely paranoid, delusional, and a jerk. Out of any man in Roman history, he probably contributed most to the fall of the Roman Empire (for you Game of Thrones fans, it’s like if Joffrey reigned for 13 years).

That being said, he was so much more elite than the Commodus in Gladiator. For one, the real-life Commodus may have wasted his time trying to be a gladiator, but he was actually good at it. He was a good shot, strong, and a fairly competent soldier. Unfortunately, no one ever knew how good he was, because he usually picked out disabled or wounded opponents to kill in the arena before celebrating them like he’d won a great victory, because, as I said, he was a psychopathic, senseless brat. Real Commodus destroys Joaquin Phoenix in a fight though.

Benoit Paire to go how deep in the US Open?

For those who are unfamiliar with the wild world of professional tennis, Benoit Paire is the best tennis player currently on tour. By best, I mean most likely to do some crazy stuff while you watch him.

Paire will make it to Round 2, face Steve Johnson, and then break around 7 rackets.

Trajan's column or Trajan's row?

Trajan’s Column.

What's the money line on Napoleon vs Roman Empire?

Uh, well, Napoleon by himself with 19th-century weaponry against the entirety of the Roman Empire is an easy choice. Napoleon with the Grand Armée would also be a wash, as Napoleon would definitely win. If he were playing a totally neutral and equal war game against Rome’s greatest generals, here’s what I’d pick.

Napoleon (+105) v. Scipio Africanus

Napoleon (-200) v. Gaius Marius

Napoleon (-135) v. Julius Caesar

Napoleon (+140) v. Hannibal - People forget that the Hannibal crossed the Alps during winter 2,000 years before Napoleon.

Napoleon (-150) v. Germanicus

Napoleon (+115) v. Marcus Agrippa

Napoleon (-100000) v. Caligula