It’s officially the start of a new decade!
To ring in the new year, here are 20 resolutions and goals for Northwestern fans and athletics to make 2020 the best year yet for the purple and white.
1. Make a bowl game again
On December 31st, exactly one year after Northwestern’s Holiday Bowl victory over Utah last season, it felt like something was missing. In the 2020 season, whether NU football can resolve all of its struggles from 2019 or not, the ultimate goal is to become bowl-eligible to make the holidays feel complete again.
2. Become a men’s basketball school again (or closer to it, at least)
While football season did not turn out as we may have hoped, Northwestern’s 2019-2020 basketball season is still young, and the team has already had some shining moments. Boo Buie is incredibly fun to watch and has an extremely bright future ahead. Pat Spencer is a fascinating story alone. Miller Kopp, Pete Nance and Ryan Young have developed into reliable assets, and the team has put together some solid performances and hung tight with tough competition. Despite some rough results, there’s still plenty of time for them to pull some big upsets in conference play and, hopefully, start to build for the future.
3. Find a solid starter at quarterback
So many of NU football’s ongoing issues would be resolved if the team could rely on a single player at the sport’s most important position. After rotating six different guys under center this year, Northwestern desperately needs some consistency at QB in 2020.
4. Improve non-revenue attendance
I love football and basketball as much as the next sports fan, but as we’ve seen recently, those teams won’t always have seasons that end in a Big Ten championship or an NCAA tournament appearance. However, there are 17 other varsity teams on campus that consistently fight for improved attendance at games. Some of these teams. like lacrosse and softball, are the most elite programs in the nation and deserve our support. It’s time to support all our Wildcat teams through their victories and defeats.
5. Pull out a Big Ten upset in basketball against a ranked team
After the team’s most recent loss to Hartford, this goal feels out of reach; however, it’s important to remember the valiant efforts the ‘Cats put up against top competition like Michigan State or DePaul. It would be great to see Northwestern turn those hard-fought games into a few stolen wins in the new year.
6. Find something positive amidst change
Northwestern football is on the verge of a new chapter in its history. After a rebuilding year, the program has a lot to look forward to in the New Year, such as the best recruiting class in program history or inevitable change with Mike Bajakian taking over as the new offensive coordinator. With newness comes ample opportunity for positive developments. Let’s hope the ‘Cats can cash in on that.
7. Become more than a tailgate school
One of the most frustrating aspects of the 2019 football season was the discrepancy between tailgate attendance and game attendance. Last year in 2018, it was a no-brainer that almost every fan who tailgated would go straight to the game to support the ‘Cats in their standout season. However, as 2019 progressed and the team continued to struggle, fewer and fewer fans made the journey to Ryan Field. That needs to change in 2020.
8. Show support for women’s sports in particular
While Northwestern sports deserve significant support all-around, in 2020, the women deserve extra attention that has been lacking in recent years. NU’s 11 women’s sports are home to some of the top athletes in the nation — players who will go down in school and NCAA history for their successes.
Lindsey Pulliam is currently the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten in basketball, one of the most competitive conferences in the country, and is stating her claim for a shot at playing professionally. Bente Baekers was the third leading goal scorer in the nation in field hockey this season. She was an All-American and carried the team to an NCAA tournament appearance.
Izzy Scane returns as a leading scorer on one of the most prolific offensive lacrosse teams in the nation. Clarissa Hand is now joined by her sister first year Christina, and the sibling duo is stealing the show for women’s tennis. Finally, Danielle Williams alone is a reason to follow the softball team, as she finished her freshman season leading the Big Ten in almost every pitching category and was the first ever in the conference to win the NFCA Freshman of the Year award. These players, and the teams they represent, certainly deserve plenty of recognition relative to their male counterparts.
9. Extend the HAT streak to six
Northwestern now holds its longest winning streak over Illinois since the rivalry began in 1892 at five victories in a row. However, the Illini still hold the series record, having put together seven consecutive Land of Lincoln victories between the ‘10s and ‘20s and again in the ‘80s. Northwestern is just two years away from tying that record, so in 2020, the Wildcats will try to get one step closer by keeping Lincoln’s hat where it belongs.
10. Make offensive strides on the football field
After watching the painful season Northwestern had offensively in 2019, we can only hope the new year will bring a different story overall. If nothing else, the ‘Cats must at least solve some of their offensive issues from the past year in hopes of taking steps toward a brighter future.
11. Have eight teams make the NCAA Tournament or equivalent
Watching all Northwestern teams succeed in the post season is the highlight of any season, and in 2020, we can only hope for more of the same success. This year, while certain teams like softball and lacrosse are destined to thrive in the postseason, it would be great to see other teams that missed the mark in previous years join in on the action.
12. Give another sport a chance
There are so many fun teams to watch on this campus, and while the glitz and glamor of revenue athletics may not be there for all teams, I promise there is a compelling reason to see every squad play in 2020. I encourage you to give that new sport a chance, because it could surprise you.
13. See some ‘Cats go pro
There’s nothing cooler than hearing “Northwestern University” when the starters are announced on Sunday Night Football. In the new year, it’s time to hear that even more and see more of our beloved ‘Cats across all sports advance to the next level and represent Northwestern on the big stage.
14. Attend one athletic event a week all (scholastic) year long
This is an attainable goal for every Northwestern fan on campus or near it. Rather than designating football season as the only time of year fans attend games, NU fans should attempt to go to at least one athletic event a week throughout the entire year. There are so many good teams on this campus that deserve equal support.
15. Send next year’s seniors out with a bang
In 2020, some of Northwestern’s greatest will play their final games in Evanston. From the football team alone, Paddy Fisher, Travis Whillock, Riley Lees, JR Pace, Kyric McGowan, Chris Bergin, Blake Gallagher, Rashawn Slater, RCB and Earnest Brown IV are just a few of the stars who will see their final year of collegiate athletics. Men’s basketball will lose AJ Turner and Pat Spencer, whose career ended almost as quickly as it started. 2020 will be dedicated to these seniors and many more as we hope for success in their final seasons at NU.
16. Find consistency
An issue across the board for Northwestern sports has been consistency. In 2020, each team can work at evening out its play to solidify success, or at least progress. Whether that means performing similarly against Hartford as the men’s basketball team did against DePaul or finding a consistent solution to its quarterbacking issues, Northwestern has plenty of room for improvement.
17. Remain the top-ranked academic athletic program in the nation
Early in the season, it seemed there would be a chance the football team could steal a bowl appearance thanks to its academic successes. While athletics and academics are not often discussed in tandem, Northwestern succeeds in the overlap of the two, which can have implications in athletic competition like bowl eligibility. Northwestern athletics lead the nation in academic success and also post the highest graduation rate for athletes at 98 percent — an important stat in for the betterment of our athletes’ futures.
18. Be thankful for what we already have
While it is so easy see the negatives and wish for change, in 2020, we must take the time to appreciate the great aspects of Northwestern athletics. Whether it is some of the best coaches in all of sports, top athletes or one-of-a-kind facilities, there is plenty to be thankful for, and it’s time to recognize that.
19. Read more
Every team on this campus has a fascinating story behind it. Each team has its special player or storyline that all Northwestern fans should know about. Here at Inside NU, we have the opportunity to learn a little (or a lot) about each of these teams. I swear, they’re all incredibly fun to follow and learn about. By keeping up with them like we do, you may be able to find a new passion or learn something new.
20. Put down the phone and enjoy the game
Maybe Fitz’s ultimate request will finally be fulfilled in 2020. Somehow, I doubt it.