Northwestern fans have long suffered for their allegiance.
Alumni or not, every single Wildcat devotee knows full well the two distinctions about Northwestern athletics that would eclipse the Chicago Cubs and their championship drought. Northwestern football has not won a bowl game since 1949, and the men’s basketball team has never found its name on any March Madness bracket. As much as history would indicate that Northwestern is trending up, fans can’t close the chapter on this episode of futility until both jinxes go away, 20-win seasons and “moral victories” be damned.
As a senior, I’ve seen three classes before me leave empty-handed with neither a bowl game victory nor a ride in the Big Dance. I thought that this would be our year. The past three years told me, if anything, that Northwestern was bound to make good on at least one of these goals before I had graduated.
Notable Wildcat greats like Sherrick McManis and Corey Wootton have left in the same fashion. Intent on breaking the anathema, the very best of recent Northwestern teams have graduated and left without achieving the singular victory that they came to make good on. Fellow senior Juice Thompson concluded his career in a humbling loss to Washington State last week, and he leaves as one of the greatest players in Northwestern history without that mark of acclaim.
At times, I’ve found an incredible humor to the Sisyphean nature of the situation. It’s striking to me that even given half a century, Northwestern still couldn’t muster feats that most major conference schools would take for granted.
The class of 2011 will join a collection of Northwestern’s alumni unfamiliar to the feeling of bowl game victories or filling out tourney brackets with more than just office bragging rights on the line. I believed, like others before me, that there was something special about our class that would be different. But now I find myself out of “one more year” excuses and am left to wait like every other wishful-thinking fan for that impending euphoria.
And I’m confident it’s going to happen soon. Eventually, we’ll rush the field for a victory that will mean more than just another win against a ranked Iowa team. And eventually we’ll be doing a kind of Dance that every Wildcat can do. Northwestern’s time is going to come someday, but as a student, it’s not coming for me.