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Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald Tweaks Husker Fans For Buying Tickets that Chicago Doesn't Want

Eric Francis

In the summer time, college coaches typically spend a little time between summer camps talking to boosters and fans to get them fired up for the upcoming season.  Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Tim Miles did just that last month on the Big Red Express. On Monday, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald talked to a hundred or so members of the Northwestern Gridiron Network after a golf tournament (that he won, by the way) and took a couple of shots at Nebraska fans and Cal along the way, according to the Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune.

Fitzgerald asked those gathered to help fill Ryan Field, especially when the "Red Army" of Nebraska comes Oct. 18 for Homecoming.

"It’s a pretty boring state, so they’re really excited to see Chicago," Fitzgerald said. "I talked to the state senator about putting state troopers out on I-80 (to block them)."

As media is wont to do in July, they pounced on the story. And Husker fans reacted, as you might expect.

Of course, that's not quite right. Fitzgerald remembers that all-too-well. That's why he was trying to fire up Northwestern fans to help keep Nebraska fans out. Buy tickets, and show up.  Otherwise, he was going to have to call out the authorities.  Why do I envision something like this happening in October?

(You know, why don't they just go ahead and use the tarp NW bought last year?)

Back to Fitzgerald's comments for a moment.  After Husker fans fired off their retorts, the indignation at Husker fans not being able to take a joke started piling in. Not sure what they expect. Someone makes a joke at your expense, you fire back with another joke.  InsideNW's Chris Johnson asked "I also struggle to comprehend why the Nebraska comment elicited such strong backlash."  Simple.  It's July. This is what passes as news in July.  Fitzgerald makes a joke. Nebraska fans joke in response.

Of course, it's easier to ridicule Nebraska for not being able to take a joke than to admit that Northwestern has an attendance problem.  This year, Northwestern has declared "Purple Pricing" to be in effect for NW's game against the Huskers, according to InsideNW.  If all those red NU fans are going to come to Chicago, at least Northwestern is going to profit from it, as opposed to the folks in the secondary market.  Purple Pricing is essentially a reverse auction.  Single game ticket prices start high, and drop if the demand isn't there.

Fitzgerald hopes, of course, that folks in Chicago will buy all of the tickets and support the Wildcats. Because he knows that if they don't, Nebraska fans will be there to take their place. Just like they used to do in Ames and Lawrence, back when the Huskers were in the Big Eight and Big XII.

Even though Fitzgerald pointed his comments at Nebraska fans, the reality of the situation is that it's actually a slam on Northwestern that they can't fill the smallest stadium, even though it's located in the biggest metropolitan area in the Big Ten.