The reasons phrases turn into cliches is because they’re true and also widely applicable. Take “the root of the problem” for example. It’s a way of saying an issue is deeper than the surface level, and that the only way to solve it is by a complete excavation. A real world illustration of this is the Northwestern football program, who fired head coach Pat Fitzgerald but kept the rest of the staff in hopes that it’d be enough to eradicate the toxic culture permeating throughout Evanston.
Well, about that.
So what you’re saying is exiling the embattled leader, and not his loyal staff, hasn’t led to the full sail changes the university had hoped for? Oh, the humanity. The decision by the holdovers, including offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian (pictured), to wear “Cats against the world” shirts — complete with a No. 51 that Fitz wore during his playing days — and flip the narrative into a rally cry might be more cliche than me using a cliche as the basis for this article.
Running around in what amounts to “falsely accused” garb comes off as more guilty than less, and shows a remarkably callus approach toward the litany of victims who were brave enough to speak up. It doesn’t take courage to foster a mob mentality in the face of adversity, and risks isolating those in the locker room who want to play football and not engage in the creepy traditions of entitled upperclassmen.
I’m hesitant to call anyone prophetic, but Deadspin coworker Carron Phillips couldn’t have predicted this outcome better if he had a time machine. Northwestern, a college that loves to tout its academic prowess, is not a serious place. It takes a special level of incompetence (or exceptionalism) to think Hydra can be felled with one swipe of the executioner’s sword.
The Cats have always given off a vibe of superiority despite a woeful sports record. Chanting, “It’s alright, it’s OK, you’ll all work for us someday” as you’re getting shellacked by middling Big Ten programs is a look, and one that implies a higher form of intelligence.
Nope, NU is as fugazi as the next university with an outsized legacy admissions rate, and an obsession with academia. Apparently, an expensive degree doesn’t preclude one from mishandling scandals, or compromising integrity in exchange for on-field success.
The kicker to all this is the football team won just one game a season ago. Northwestern is so desperate for any relevance — even the fleeting notoriety Fitzgerald managed for a season or two — that they couldn’t even part with the ex-coach’s odorous fumes.
It took less than a month for that decision to backfire, and now with the season a few weeks away, there’s no way to rectify it. Northwestern is going to run out a team that believes it’s the victim, that the world is wrong, and not the people who likely had a role in enabling gross, adolescent behavior.