By Phil Hecken, with additional commentary by James Huening
Just in case you hadn’t yet heard, there will be a football game played today at historic Wrigley Field — the first football game at Wrigley since 1970, when the Bears last played there, and the first time in more than seventy years that Wrigley will play host to a college football game. In fact, there have been more professional hockey games played at Wrigley in the last 39 years than there have been football games. That’s about to change when the Northwestern Wildcats host the Illinois Fighting Illini.
I had actually been planning this post for some time, even
coercing requesting a bit of assistance and perspective from James Huening, who has attended more than his fair share of events at the Friendly Confines, although never a football game. It was just going to be a “secondary piece,” following my lede — which will now be bumped until tomorrow. Why the sudden change of heart? Because now the game will be played under “Wrigley Rules.”
While this is pretty much of a gimmick, it’s a pretty cool one. Much like the Winter Classic Hockey Game played at Wrigley a couple New Years’ ago, it will probably be much more about the “experience” than the actual viewing pleasure. Sure, there will be some good seats, but it’s pretty clear from the configuration that there will be as many bad seats as there will be good ones. No matter, it’s sure to be a memorable game for all in attendance.
Before we get into the “Wrigley Rules,” JTH had origianlly penned this for today’s post:
For the first time since I was just one week old, football will be played in Wrigley Field. Perhaps fittingly, that game pitted the Chicago Bears vs. their long-time nemeses, the Green Bay Packers.
The Bears moved out of Wrigley Field after that season because the NFL mandated that every team’s home stadium hold at least 50,000 spectators.
Today’s contest features in-state rivals Illinois and Northwestern looking to take home the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. Check that. It’s 2010. That means it’s the coveted Land of Lincoln trophy that will be up for grabs.
Interestingly enough, early in the 1970 season, the Bears played one home game at Northwestern’s Dyche Stadium, as it was known then, before deciding to make Soldier Field their full-time home
The fact that today’s game is between two NCAA teams rather than NFL isn’t the only difference. There won’t be any temporary grandstands and actually the field will be oriented east-west rather than north-south. This means that there will be two full 10-yard endzones — no need to stuff padding in the visitors’ dugout.
Now, when this game was first proposed, more than a year ago, it brought back memories to some of when the Bears played at Wrigley. However, the field was oriented in a north-south direction. This of course allowed for temporary bleachers, but also made for a very snug fit in the south endzone. You can see the difference graphically here and here. I’m not sure that second graphic actually shows just how tight a fit the eastern end zone will be against the outfield wall.
When I began this post (earlier this week), I originally wrote, “I’m not sure whether the goalposts attached to the wall is really cool — or potentially really dangerous (not the goalposts themselves, but the fact that there is no room outside of the endzone to maneuver. Everytime I see tight end zones I always am reminded of stuff like this — granted, that’s not going to happen at Wrigley, but when irresistable forces meet immovable objects, we know who the winner is going to be.”
Whether or not this was prescient or common sense, we found out yesterday that today’s game will be played under new ground rules, or “The Wrigley Rules.” The geniuses who planned this game obviously hadn’t taken the safety factor into play when they changed the orientation of the field. Well, now (perhaps a little late, dontcha think?), they have. Here’s how today’s game will differ:
1) All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.
2) All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3) After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.
4) As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.
I asked James for his reaction to the rules change. “So now it appears that another wrench has been thrown into the works,” he says. “I understand that the game has changed over the last 40 years, but the outfield wall is padded, isn’t it? I have no idea how soft the padding is, but I’ve definitely felt the boards and glass of a hockey rink and I’d imagine that the padding is considerably softer. Somehow they managed to play a hockey game at Wrigley Field a little less than two years ago.”
According to the Big 10, both Illinois and Northwestern expressed concern (the same concerns most of us had been voicing here for at least a week) and adopted the above “rule or field adjustments to provide the safest environment for the student-athletes.” The Big 10 had to request these waivers (although it’s hard to fathom anyone with a functioning cranium wouldn’t have immediately approved them).
For a bit of perspective on the hazards of playing football at Wrigley, Jim offers this, “Legend has it that there was no padding (in left field back then) until after the time that leather-helmet era Bears fullback Bronko Nagurski ran head-down for a touchdown and didn’t stop running until he was stopped by the brick wall. Nagurski is said to have gone back to the sideline in a daze and told coach George Halas ‘That last guy gave me quite a lick.’”
Today’s rule changes were determined to be the best of all options and will be in effect for this game only based on the unique layout of the field. According to Big 10 Commish James Delaney, “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes.” Well, yeah.
While I commend the Big Ten for their concern for player safety, wasn’t this something they might have considered before they set this whole thing up? I realize one cannot tell from conceptual diagrams exactly how the field would look, but when you’re planning on attaching goalposts to a solid brick wall, with just a modicum of padding, which means your endzone ends where the wall begins you probably know long before the day before the game it’s not a good idea.
Even Jimbo agrees, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to play the meatball fan card here. I understand that it is a safety issue,” he says. I myself use a seatbelt when I drive. “I wear a helmet when I ride my bike. When I play hockey, I wear more than just the required gear (I use a neck guard, mouth guard and full cage) so I’m not questioning anyone’s toughness or anything like that. I simply believe that this eleventh hour rule change might be a bit of an overreaction.”
How big an overreaction, Jim? “Really, how often is there a play at the back of the end zone? And again, there is padding on the wall,” he notes. “It’s not as though there’s barbed wire or a pit of crocodiles. And I kind of feel bad for the folks who have seats in the right field bleachers. Unless a punt or turnover returned for a touchdown, all the scoring will be at the opposite end of the field. Although, I guess it is possible that a missed field goal could be returned for a TD.”
“Of course,” he does add, “There is always the possibility that they’ll see two points for the defense on their end of the field.”
So what does this mean for the viewers and the fans? Well, for those watching on TV (and now you know you will), probably not a lot — except there will now likely be more ample time for commercial breaks, as teams will be required to change direction with every possession change. However, the fans who bought seats by the east end zone will probably feel a bit gipped. The only way they’ll see any points scored is when you have a punt returned for a TD, a safety, or an INT taken to the house. And all PAT’s will all be kicked into the western end zone, and that really sucks — I mean, who amongst us wasn’t hoping to see an extra point sail across
Waveland Sheffield Avenue? I know I was.
Remember when you used to play touch football in the street with an odd number of kids, and you had a “designated quarterback”? Or when you played baseball/softball with only six or seven players and you used a “half field”? Kinda feels like that now. But at least no one will involuntarily pull a Gus Frerotte
If nothing else, the Wrigley Rules will probably fuel more interest in this game even more than it would normally have. This morning, you can watch the ESPN Game Day crew live from Wrigley, but the game will be on ESPNU (so I’m not sure how many of us will be able to actually see it). Official kickoff is 3:30 Eastern/2:30 Central time.
Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.
Last weekend I challenged some of the more adventurous to colorize a few photographs, which Paul had featured in columns earlier that week: This full panoramic shot of the 1918 Chicago Cubs, as well as a smaller section of that photo. Also, I thought this photo of Doc Crandall of the Federal League St. Louis Terriers would make for a good colorization.
At first, I didn’t think anyone would take me up on the challenge, but as the week progressed, three of you stepped up to the plate.
George Chilvers took on the challenge of the cropped 1917 Chicago Cubs.
Ian Carr not only colorized the 1917 Cubs, but he also did four(!) versions of Doc Crandall, each slightly different patch: bluish-purple, red, a red field with blue letters and what is probably the most likely, a blue field with red letters.
Great work gentlemen.
For the coming week, I’m hoping a few more of you will participate. And with the big football game in Wrigley today, this week’s challenge will be Bronko Nagurski, pro football’s “60 minute man.” Two photos to choose from: this classic, which should look something like this. The second photo isn’t quite as awesome, uni-wise, but it’s still pretty sweet. I believe the colors for that would be an orange jersey with navy blue numbers outlined in white, blue stripes, and navy blue undersocks with white stripes. I am not sure about the pants, but they’re likely khaki.
Give it your best shot! You can send all your submissions directly to me, and I’ll post everyone’s efforts next weekend. OK? OK!
Catching up with the tweaks, but they keep coming in (which is good), so lots to get to today. If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
You guys have been pretty great keeping to the ~50 word limit per team tweak, and it’s greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Now, on to today’s tweaks:
Starting off the show is Larry Grace who has an Atlanta Braves tweak for us:
I was inspired by the look of the old BP jerseys, so I added red and some piping to their current road alt to separate them from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Next up is UW favorite Bowen Hobbs, who has several tweaks across three sports: MiLB, NCAA Football & the NBA:
I’ve been working on a little college football and Minor League Baseball lately, plus I tweaked a Bucks concept I did a while back.
Starting with the Bucks:
I showed the previous version in my blog (44th & Goal), but I updated the buck’s neck since I last showed it. The design plays off of the old “Irish Rainbow” jerseys.
I’ve always thought the current logo looked like a chicken, so I decided to make it a hawk. The uniforms are pretty conservative, using a two-stripe scheme that is consistently displayed throughout.
I did this one over the summer. The current logo looks like an old sailor tattoo, and the type is awful. I went with the parent club’s (Tigers) color scheme and custom typography. My favorite uniform in the set is Alternate 3, as it uses a wraparound cap and jersey design.
And closing down the tweak show today is Ian Carr with a “North Stars” concept:
got one for ya; North Stars.
This is my first one. I loved the old North Stars logo and color scheme. Loved the Stars “Star Jersey”. Combine the two and Voila! I tweaked the jersey star JUST a bit to go with the shoulder yoke.
Thanks mucho to all the concepters. Back tomorrow with more.
Last evening, the fourth-ranked Boise State Broncos did something they’ve never done before. They
were visible on their home field broke out an all-orange uniform and promptly went out and annihilated Fresno State.
Seeking to make a statement both sartorially and with the BCS committee, the Broncos were no longer camouflaged on the smurf turf, but were much more so when they were putting up sixes, which they seemed to do quite often. I needed to get to bed early last night, but the game was
already 44-0 in the early fourth quarter ended 51-0. I ended up watching it till the end.
This was the first time Boise has worn orange jerseys since they installed the blue turf. I wasn’t paying close attention, but apparently Boise played in a Bowl game in their own stadium a few years back, and they were actually the visiting team — so they wore white then. They still looked awful, but much less awful than when they go mono blue. The new orange unis were basically the same as their usual blue ones, only they swapped out the blue for orange. Their gray/silver numbers and file folder accoutrements remained in place. *Sigh*
I’m really pulling for either Boise or Texas Christian to make it to the BCS Championship Game this year. Of course, if Oregon and Auburn remain undefeated, there’s little chance of that happening. However, I’m increasingly hearing rumblings that even if Auburn loses the Iron Bowl or the SEC Championship Game, even then they might play in the BCS game. That will really prove how much of a bias those who rate these teams have towards BCS conferences (or against non-BCS teams). Of course, we still have a long way to go before we face that scenario, but I would hope that if Auburn or Oregon were to lose, TCU and/or Boise would get a title shot if either remains undefeated. The BCS is already broken (we won’t get into a playoff today), but Boise is certainly making a case that they deserve a title shot — whether it’s with an invitation to the “big game” or via a “+1.”
That’s just about all for today.
And for those of you into orange monochrome, Miama will be wearing theirs today againt Va Tech. As far as uniforms go, I really will need to see this one in action, but you know how I feel about the whole Pro Combat ethos. That helmet sure looks purdy tho, doesn’t it?
OK, y’all. Have a great Saturday.
“Fear the Deer” is ridiculous – tho except of the constant prospect of smashing into one with my car. Fear the Deer wandering into my yard & getting into my trash? This machoism in sports is getting redundant. — ‘concealed78’