This weekend major college football is coming to a famous baseball stadium near you (if you live in New York or Chicago) as Northwestern will be hosting Illinois at Wrigley Field and Notre Dame will be hosting Army at the new Yankee Stadium.
What's the obsession of playing the games at venues that are not built for the sport? One of the great things about living in 2010 is that we have the ability to not live like it is 1960. Is there something going on this Saturday that we should know about? Is Saturday retro day? Am I supposed to not use the internet or my cell phone? What about baby wipes, they weren't around then (I use them when I go to the bathroom, if you haven't tried it you don't know what you are missing.) Are we not supposed to use any of the conveniences of daily living that we now have this Saturday?
At 3:30 EST Saturday afternoon, Illinois takes on Northwestern at Wrigley Field. What's the point of trying to cram a football field into Wrigley Field? It's debatable whether the ball bark is big enough to play base ball. The field doesn't fit! They have to hang a goal post on the right field wall! And the back line of that end zone is literally one foot from a brick wall! I know the players are wearing helmets and pads, but a brick wall at the back of the end zone?
Exactly whose idea was it to do this and who gave final approval? The parents of the kids are ok with this? These are two respected academic institutions, what the hell are they thinking? What's going to happen when a player gets inadvertently knocked head first into the ivy (brick wall behind it) and breaks his neck? Is it a penalty if you knock someone into the wall? "Personal foul, fifteen yards, blocking the player into a brick wall!" What the hell are they doing?
And look at the artist's rendition of the event. Both teams have to stay on the same side of the field? Are you kidding me? What's wrong with Ryan Field where Northwestern usually plays its home games? They pumped in $20 million to renovate the place jus 13 years ago. Are they reseeding the grass field? Even if that were the case, why wouldn't they play at the new Soldier Field? It just opened in 2003. It's good enough for the Chicago Bears, but not for Northwestern?
Illinois and Northwestern aren't the only teams getting ready for baseball-sized football games. Notre Dame and Army kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in Yankee Stadium, the first time the old foes have played football in the Bronx since 1969, when the Fighting Irish had Joe Theismann under center.
While there aren't any noticeable safety issues at Yankees Stadium, look at the field. Who the hell wants to sit in the upper deck by the right field goal post? Even the cheerleaders are going to be 100 yards away! The field was designed around a baseball diamond! At least in the old Shea Stadium where the Jets used to play, the box seats were on rollers and would fill in all the dead space between the field and the fans. What are they going to do on Saturday, have lawn mower racing contests in right field?
The Army-Notre Dame tradition is a long one. They first played in Ebbets Field, then the Polo Grounds, then, starting in 1925, in Yankee Stadium. The rivalry has featured countless legendary characters and events.
The 1946 game alone showdown was hyped as the Game of the Century between No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame featuring four players who had or would win Heisman Trophies: Army's Doc Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis ('46), and Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack ('47) and Leon Hart ('49). The game ended in a scoreless tie.
Yankee Stadium was also the site where Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne is said to have given his "Win one for the Gipper" speech at the 1928 Irish-Army clash.
This is 2010 however and those days are long gone. Heading into this game, neither team is ranked, though Army (6-4) is eligible to play in a bowl game for the first time in 14 years. Notre Dame, has had a remarkable fall from grace the past few years and is 5-5.
Wrigley has some football tradition too, having hosted Chicago Bears games from 1921 to 1970. Illinois and Northwestern last played at Wrigley in 1923. Illinois, led by some guy named Red Grange, won 29-0.
In New York, the move to host college football is seen as an opportunity to help offset debt on the Yankees' 2-year-old ballpark. Army is set to host games in 2011 (against Rutgers), 2012 (Air Force) and 2014 (Boston College).
In addition, Yankee Stadium will host the first Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30.
In NY while I don't agree with it, at least I understand that the Yankees are trying to pay off the debt for the new stadium and are doing just about anything including partnering with the Dallas Cowboys in the stadium concession business to make money. Oddly enough though, while West Point is only 50 miles away from NY, it's a Notre Dame Home game!
Notre Dame's stadium is as famous for college football as Yankee Stadium is for baseball? Why the hell would they travel to NY to play a home game? Are they now that desperate to recruit that they have to barnstorm? I guess people are no longer watching the NBC nationwide broadcasts. At least in Chicago, the two teams are local. I still can't get over that wall... Unbelievable. Morons. - Mike Cardano
Mike Cardano is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.