Following up on reports that surfaced over the weekend, Northwestern announced plans for multiple games at an iconic MLB ballpark.
NU and Chicago Cubs officials confirmed at a Tuesday press conference that Wrigley Field will play host to five future Wildcats football games. The press release describes the agreement between the two parties as “an innovative, multi-year event and reciprocal marketing partnership that will showcase a wide range of Wildcats athletic programs at historic Wrigley Field in coming years, including baseball, lacrosse” and, of course, football.
“We are thrilled to partner with a professional sports franchise as iconic as the Chicago Cubs in an agreement that truly is the first of its kind,” said athletic director Jim Phillips. “As Chicago’s Big Ten Team, this is a natural fit that will create tremendous opportunities for our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans in the area.
“I’d like to personally thank the Ricketts family and the entire Cubs executive team for all of their efforts in bringing this remarkable partnership to fruition.”
Because of scheduled renovations to Wrigley Field, the dates of future games at the park will be announced at a later date. Future opponents have yet to be revealed as well.
Northwestern has played one game at Wrigley Field, a loss to Illinois in November of 2010. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald is hoping that the additional games at the historic park will provide a boost to the football program, particularly as it relates to the hyper-competitive recruiting game.
“We’re trying to win a Big Ten and national championship and to have that attraction in recruiting where we can give young man the unique experience no one else can sell along with everything we already have was something that was very appealing to myself and my staff,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re talking to kids we’ll see in future signing days and saying, ‘We’re going to be playing in Wrigley Field.'”
ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton provided a massive public service through his Twitter account on Tuesday, releasing a data dump of fascinating information about the signing class of 2016.
In short, Texas was the most popular breeding ground for FBS prospects, but half of all signees came from a clean sweep from Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and up to North Carolina.
The Lone Star State produced 359 players, with nearly half of those heading to Power 5 institutions. In fact, Hamilton reports, 72 of 128 FBS programs and 38 of 64 Power 5’s signed at least one player from Texas.
Florida trailed with 327 players, followed by California with 248 players and Georgia with 225. For what it’s worth, Ohio was not included in the study.
Data dump, begin!
The American Athletic Conference released its 2016 conference schedule highlighted by, oddly enough, non-conference games that pit league gem Houston against Oklahoma (on opening day at Houston’s NRG Stadium) and Louisville (in Houston on Nov. 19).
Those two games, more than any others, will sink or swim the conference’s chances of not only grabbing the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six, but a spot in the College Football Playoff itself.
The 2016 conference slate kicks off with Navy meeting Connecticut on Sept. 10 and concludes with the second annual AAC title game on Dec. 3 at a to-be-determined campus site.
The AAC led the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents — highlighted by a Week 3 schedule that will see the entire East Division punching up a weight class — and includes the likes of Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia, Syracuse, Kansas, TCU and Oklahoma (for all intents and purposes) visiting AAC campuses.
View the full AAC slate here:
Just like we all thought when watching him play at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees will be in the NFL in 2016. Just not as a quarterback.
The San Diego Chargers announced his hiring as an obnoxiously vague offensive assistant, assisting with the club’s offense in some form that they aren’t inclined to elaborate on.
After completing a career in which he threw for 7,670 yards with 61 touchdowns against 37 interceptions from 2010-13, Rees was cut by the Washington Redskins in 2014, then spent the 2014-15 seasons as a graduate assistant at Northwestern.
The post-National Signing Day coaching carousel is now in full tilt.
According to a report from Adam Caplan of ESPN, Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones is leaving to become the assistant defensive backs coach for the Miami Dolphins.
The Badgers already endured a significant loss this winter after defensive coordinator Dave Aranda took a lateral position with LSU. He was replaced in January by former USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Jones spent but 13 months in Madison, a January 2015 addition to Paul Chryst‘s first staff after spending three seasons at Hawaii.
Wisconsin possessed one of college football’s top pass defenses in 2015; the Badgers ranked seventh nationally in pass defense, tied for sixth in yards per attempt allowed, placed third in opponent completion percentage and finished second in pass efficiency defense.