Blog Entry

Football at Wrigley: Let's play two

Posted on: November 20, 2010 7:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli

Going in to Saturday's game between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field, all the talk surrounded the way the field was situated inside the stadium, and the fact that both offenses would move towards the west end zone due to safety concerns about the right field wall located directly behind the east end zone.

Because of all this, people were saying that the first football game to be played at Wrigley Field would probably be the last.  After seeing Illinois beat Northwestern 48-27, I'm not sure that should be the case.  Were there some odd circumstances surrounding this game?   Of course, when you're playing inside a 96-year old baseball stadium, things are going to get a bit weird.

The truth is, though, that once the game kicked off, there wasn't anything all that different from a game that had been played in Champaign or Evanston. Fact is, there may not have been as many people in the seats had this game been played at either school's home stadium.  Chicago is a big city, with a large contingent of college football fans. Fans that, for the most part, don't have much of a college football selection to choose from in town.  The most popular team in the city, Notre Dame, plays it's games over two hours away from the city.

So having this game at Wrigley Field, in a city that many Northwestern and Illinois students and alumni call home, gave those fans a chance to see a game and sleep in their own bed that night.

Besides, did having both teams move towards the west -- The Manifest Destiny Bowl -- really hurt the game?  Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald didn't seem to think so.

"I don't know how it looked on television," said Fitzgerald.  "It didn't affect the flow of our game."

There's no doubt that Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure would want to play in Wrigley one again, either.  The Illinois running back brought back memories of Gale Sayers running around Wrigley Field, rushing for 330 yards and two touchdowns.

LeShoure would love to come back next season.  "I think it'd be fun," he said. "Especially after this game."

I can't help but agree with him.

Since: Oct 3, 2010
Posted on: November 22, 2010 9:41 am

Football at Wrigley: Let's play two

Thanks for clearing that up Wally. I was sure I remembered the Bears playing there when I was a kid. I can still see a picture in my head of Gayle Sayers with the hedges behind him.

Since: Mar 3, 2008
Posted on: November 21, 2010 2:14 pm

Football at Wrigley: Let's play two

I noticed this. Big mistake on the author's part.

Since: Nov 21, 2010
Posted on: November 21, 2010 9:07 am

Football at Wrigley: Let's play two

I thought it was a nice novelty to watch - made the game a little more interesting just because it diverted from the normal flow, but that didn't seem to detract from the quality of the game or affect any of the play.  Both teams played under the same rules, so it was fair.  However, it would appear the field could have been moved several feet to the west allowing enough room at the end of both end zones - I don't know why that wasn't done.  And the real good thing was the Illini won handily.

Since: Jun 9, 2007
Posted on: November 21, 2010 8:48 am

Football at Wrigley: Let's play two

"Because of all this, people were saying that the first football game to be played at Wrigley Field would probably be the last."

The Chicago Bears played at Wrigley for years - my dad and I had season tickets in the early/mid 60's and I saw people like Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka and Dick Butkus play. It was a great place for football, back then anyway. Oh, and the offenses went both ways, brick wall or no.

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