Northwestern’s state-of-the-art football facility, literally on the shore of Lake Michigan, is now fully operational, at a low, low cost of $260 million.
The facility has everything — including an actual wild cat.
According to a story by Yahoo‘s Eric Edholm, a stuffed cat was donated to the program by Walter Siemian, the father of former Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian. The plan was to originally sell it and use the proceeds to benefit the program, but apparently Pat Fitzgerald saw the cat and fell in love.
Walter Siemian took down the predator — legally, of course — last November, sent the cat of prey in question to a taxidermist and then donated it to the program.
The initial understanding was that it would be sold, with the proceeds benefitting the program. After all, these things draw some serious coin. (One current listing here for a mountain lion, which this mammal appears to be, is going for more than $12,000.) But once Fitzgerald saw it, the story goes, there was no way he was letting it leave.
The cat was staying put. That’s also easy to see why. And it’s now the first thing you see when you enter the coaches’ meeting rooms.
The hope with facilities like these is that the enhanced investment into football will lead to the Northwestern coaching staff singing a different class of recruit, which will in turn allow the program to pair their stuffed mascot with some Big Ten championship trophies.
That’s the hope, at least.