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Illini-N’western Wrigley game to feature one usable end zone

Northwestern Football Practice at Wrigley Field Getty Images

Seriously.  One — and only one — end zone will be used.

For those who were/are unaware, Illinois and Northwestern will play this weekend at the home of the Chicago Cubs, historic Wrigley Field.  And, as you can tell by the photo at the right — as well as other photos of the same end zone — it took a good deal of cramming to get a football field to fit inside the ivy-covered confines.

Of course, along with said cramming came concerns over player safety.  Specifically, players running/being ran headfirst into the outfield wall that sits just a couple of feet outside the east end zone.

As a result of the safety issues, the Big Ten has announced some major changes to Saturday’s game.  And have officially made a mockery of the game and turned it into one akin to something we all used to play in the backyard.  Or out in the street.  In traffic.

According to a press release issued by the conference, the following rule changes were determined to be the best of all options and will be in effect for this game only based on the unique layout of the field:

1)    All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.
2)    All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3)    After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.
4)    As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.

Other rules under consideration include the fire hydrant at the corner of Elm & Main is out of bounds; each school will be responsible for bringing extra footballs because if one goes into Old Man Johnson’s garden you cannot go after it because he’ll tell your parents you trampled his tomato plants whether you did or not; all kickoffs will be thrown; five-Mississippi pass rushes on first and second down; if any player’s mom hollers for him during the course of the game, he will be permitted to re-enter the game after he’s finished cleaning his room; and oncoming traffic has the right of way and play will stop, except on fourth down when you’re on your own.

This game has been in the works for over a year and a half, but the league claims they didn’t realize they had a “situation” with the configuration of the playing field until the playing field was configured right in front of them.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany in a statement. “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes. Wrigley Field is one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

Suffice to say, and short of finding an alternative way of shoehorning a football field into this particular baseball park, this might be the last time in a long, long, long time you’ll see a football game contested at Wrigley.  Hell, it’ll take a solid 4-5 years before the Big Ten is able to get the last little bit of egg wiped off their face after this debacle, so a next game at that place will likely be the last thing on their minds.

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21 Responses to “Illini-N’western Wrigley game to feature one usable end zone”
  1. blitz4848 says: Nov 19, 2010 12:43 PM

    You left out the “fact” the locker rooms are so small that only 1/2 the team, either the O or the D will be in there at one time.

    The fans that bought the Ivy wall seats so they would be beer spilling close to the field aren’t going to be real happy either.

  2. Slim Charles says: Nov 19, 2010 12:52 PM

    So are they gonna discount the tickets for the fans sitting at the unused endzone? This is utterly moronic.

  3. buckeyeboy says: Nov 19, 2010 12:53 PM

    is there only one endzone on the field? Or are both there and just going towards the one? It would completely complicate things if a defense picked off a pass and had no way of running it back lol

  4. jsmayer181 says: Nov 19, 2010 12:54 PM

    With Persa out of action, can Northwestern petition the Big 10 for use of a steady QB?

  5. edgy says: Nov 19, 2010 1:03 PM

    The Bears had a similar problem and they had to have special rules, as well but they ran the field north-south and not east-west as they’re doing for this game.

  6. rcali says: Nov 19, 2010 2:03 PM

    Another problem for what continues to be a bad idea. This game is actually going to count?

  7. Rosenthals Speling Instrukter says: Nov 19, 2010 2:03 PM

    Do the people who have seats on the opposite side still have to pay for “endzone” seats?

  8. Rosenthals Speling Instrukter says: Nov 19, 2010 2:04 PM

    @ rcali:

    It is between Illinois and Northwestern, I mean, does it matter if it counts?

  9. louforprethident says: Nov 19, 2010 3:09 PM

    You know, they could have easily shortend the field by 2 yards (over 120 yds that would be 1.67%) and nobody would even know. I doubt anyone would have measured the yard marks and said “Hey, these yards are 0.6″ short of a whole yard! ”

    They would have to take a couple of links out of the first down chain but who cares? That’s a lot better solution than this crap.

  10. louforprethident says: Nov 19, 2010 3:12 PM

    Yes, I know I accidentally misspelled shortened. Can’t we get a spell check feature on this thing?

  11. floridacock says: Nov 19, 2010 3:24 PM

    MLB players are not even padded and they can handle it, just ask Bartman

  12. blitz4848 says: Nov 19, 2010 3:31 PM

    Yeah–JT–we need spell check–of course that would eliminate about 40 hits a day that are ones taking shots at spelling and grammatical errors.

  13. bears354 says: Nov 19, 2010 3:55 PM

    Bronko Nagurski once ran into the wall after scoring a TD, about knocking himself out. On his way off the field he said, “that last guy hits pretty hard.”

  14. frug says: Nov 19, 2010 3:57 PM

    As a alum all I can say is that this is a freaking joke. Seriously, two schools that pride themselves in being regarded as amongst the top engineering universities in the world couldn’t figure out that there wasn’t enough space to fit a football field in Wrigley?

    And those of you asking for spell check, I recommend Firefox. It has one built in.

  15. edgy says: Nov 19, 2010 4:08 PM

    Firefox has spelling built into it. :)

  16. geester22 says: Nov 19, 2010 4:24 PM

    Hey Frug, I think it is a metric system conversion problem. Remember the British Beagle crash?

  17. tornadoes28 says: Nov 19, 2010 5:05 PM

    So what about interceptions going back the other way? Will there be no “interceptions returned for touchdowns” allowed?

  18. mrcowpatty says: Nov 19, 2010 5:06 PM

    I think they should paint the field orange with dark blue lines and have a green football.

  19. steelers6pack says: Nov 19, 2010 7:01 PM


  20. WingT says: Nov 19, 2010 9:38 PM

    from SI Sports…

    “The field dimension layout was delivered to the Big Ten approximately eight months ago and was approved by the conference,” Cubs President Crane Kenney said. “Last month, the field was built exactly to the dimensions previously approved by the Big Ten. Last week, a Big Ten official performed an onsite visit at Wrigley Field, participated in a field walk-thru and raised no issue with the field dimensions, painted lines and boundaries previously approved by the Big Ten.”

    ROTFLMAO at the Big Ten

  21. bc666 says: Nov 19, 2010 11:54 PM

    I thought the XFL was over and done with in 2001.

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