NCAA Talk

Fitzgerald, Northwestern get bowl monkey off their backs

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Fitzgerald, Northwestern get bowl monkey off their backs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The best news coming out of Northwestern's 34-20 win over Mississippi State in Tuesday's Gator Bowl, was that the monkey has been destroyed.

It came a year later than had been planned, but the monkey is officially history.

Don't be alarmed PETA members, the monkey is not real.

It's the fictitious animal that has been logged on the shoulders of Northwestern football teams participating in bowl games each of the last five seasons and for years before that. Northwestern won the 1949 Rose Bowl Game against California and the Wildcats haven't claimed victory in a postseason game since.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald thought he could put an end to the Wildcats' lengthy bowl losing streak a year ago when Northwestern met Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston. The stuffed monkey made the trip to Houston but earned a ride home with the Cats when they dropped a 33-22 decision to the Aggies.

Fast forward to Jacksonville and the Gator Bowl where Northwestern was trying to end its nine-game bowl losing streak, a dubious mark that they shared with Notre Dame as the longest losing streak ever in bowl history. Once again, Fitzgerald made certain "Mr. Monkey" was part of the team's traveling party to Florida.

"I gave it to Curtis, Curtis Shaner, long time equipment manager before we left. And I said 'put it in the case and put it away,'" an elated Fitzgerald said at the press conference after Tuesday's game. "After we win, we're going to tear it up and never go back there. I think they said on the podium in the postgame ceremonies on the field after the game, we've never been here before. But now we're here and here to stay with a new streak you can talk about in a positive fashion."

So the monkey has made its last trip with Northwestern. Fitzgerald made it clear, in a laughing manner, that the Wildcats took turns shredding the stuffed animal in the locker room afterwards. He brought the mangled mess to the press conference -- or at least what was left of it -- for all to see.

Afterwards, Northwestern players talked about the relief of not having to discuss about the losing streak any more and what a great sendoff the victory was for the senior class, the winningest group of seniors ever to play at Northwestern.

"I'm so glad that monkey is off our back and that we're the group that did it," said starting right guard Brian Mulroe, a fifth-year senior and a four-time loser in bowl games prior to Tuesday. "We're the seniors who helped end the streak. The sky's the limit for these young guys. We deserve this after what we've put into the program this year. All our hard work has paid off."

Starting quarterback Kain Colter had similar thoughts. Colter did what he could to bring about a win by leading the Wildcats in rushing with 71 yards in 11 carries (6.5 avg.) and added another 76 yards in the air on 9-of-16 passing.

"This means so much to the program. This win's for the seniors," said Colter, a junior. "I feel like a big burden has been lifted off our shoulders."

Fitzgerald may be the most relieved person that the monkey and losing streak are a thing of the past. From his opening press conference on the first day in Jacksonville up until his final media briefing the day before the game, Fitzgerald was asked about the bowl misfortunes in various ways. Some were subtle, some were indirect, some were pointed. But all wanted to know why the losing streak had extended to nine games in a row, including each of the last four years.

Each time, Fitzgerald calmly, patiently and in a positive manner, explained how the Cats have been close, how they've played well for a half or three quarters, but had yet to turn in a full four quarters of solid play.

That's why there may have been some nervous Northwestern fans at EverBank Field on Tuesday, watching their team build a 27-13 lead after three quarters. Would this be the fourth game this year that the Wildcats had led by double figures in the second half, only to see the lead evaporate and end up in a loss? It happened against Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan, the Cat's three losses in a 9-3 regular season.

When Mississippi State scored four minutes into the final quarter to make it a 7-point game, the collars became a little tighter for those wearing purple.

But on Mississippi State's next possession, quarterback Russell Tyler underthrew an intended receiver by 10 yards and Nick VanHoose was there to make the interception. The redshirt freshman cornerback not only made the pick - the fourth of the game by the Cats' defense - but he returned it 39 yards to the 10-yard line.

A penalty moved it to the 5 and while it took three plays from there, Venric Mark's burst off left tackle from three yards out resulted in a score to make it a more comfortable 14-point margin.

Mississippi State never threatened again, failing to get past its own 30 yard line in its final two possessions. And once Northwestern ran out the clock from inside the Bulldogs' 10-yard line the final 1:42, the celebration began.

Fitzgerald was doused with blue Gatorade and immediately jumped into the arms of 300-pound defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt, the culprit behind the coach's soaking. Players paraded near the stands, extending and receiving congratulatory high-fives from joyous Northwestern fans. Fitzgerald later took control of a field microphone, thanked the fans for their support and joined the team and supporters in singing the school fight song.

Afterwards, pictures were taken of any combination of players and coaches, whether it be by class, unit or just friends. Everyone wanted the trophy included in their picture, but no one wanted the monkey to be a part of the celebration. His demise was eminent and with it, NU's bowl game blues.

"Every time I think about what just happened on this field, I start to tear up a little bit," said Quentin Williams who started the Northwestern scoring when he returned an interception 29 yards to the end zone on the third play of the game. "This is just a fantastic happening for our school. We've worked so hard to get to this point and it paid off today. I've been here for five years and to finally get a win is just amazing.

"I can just imagine how everyone feels back home and how they're celebrating. This win is for anyone who's ever strapped on the Purple and White at least once in their life. Without doubt, the best feeling I've had in my five years at Northwestern. We're doing some good things around here and it's going to take us places."

And no monkey will be accompanying the team on these journeys.

NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

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NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

Men’s and Women’s Game Schedule includes area contests featuring UIC, Illinois State, Loyola, Bradley, SIU, EIU, Valparaiso, Northern Iowa, Drake, DePaul, Northwestern, and more!

Local coverage begins with the UIC Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT featuring Jordan Bernfield & David Kaplan with the game call!

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 6, 2017) – NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, is ready to bring college hoops fans another exciting season of action-packed NCAA basketball featuring a total of 65 men’s & women’s contests, featuring many of the area’s top teams and players.

NBC Sports Chicago viewers can look forward to the very best in local/regional basketball action featuring the Horizon League’s UIC Flames (eight games), along with Missouri Valley Conference action highlighted by Loyola (eight games), Northern Iowa (eight games), Bradley (seven games), Illinois State (five games), Southern Illinois (four games), Drake (four games), Valparaiso (three games), along with MVC #1-ranked pre-season favorite Missouri St. (ten games), plus – live coverage of the always-competitive MVC Tournament beginning March 1.  NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago live stream also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Chicago’s early season men’s collegiate basketball schedule gets underway with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT LIVE from the UIC Pavilion.  The game announcing tandem for Flames games on NBC Sports Chicago this season features Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play) and NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan (analyst).  NOTE: ESPN Radio 1000’s Jonathan Hood will be filling in for Kaplan as game analyst for the UIC match-ups against DePaul and Wright St.  In addition, Bernfield will also handle play-by-play duties for every Loyola game on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule this season, which also features ESPN Radio 1000’s Jeff Dickerson handling color analysis.

Among the key regional match-ups on the schedule this season include UIC at Loyola (Dec. 2), DePaul at UIC (Dec. 9), UIC at Illinois St. (Dec. 19), SIU at Northern Iowa (Dec. 28), Bradley vs. Loyola (Jan. 13 & Jan. 31), Drake at Northern Iowa (Jan. 16), Missouri St. at SIU (Feb. 14), and Bradley at Valparaiso (Feb. 17) among many others. Note the attached schedule for a complete list of men’s games this season on NBC Sports Chicago and on NBC Sports Chicago+.

NBC Sports Chicago’s women’s basketball schedule includes six games featuring USA Today Coaches Poll pre-season #20-ranked/four-time defending Big East Conf. champion DePaul Blue Demons the first Blue Demons telecast taking place on Saturday, December 30 at 7:00 PM CT live from the brand new Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago vs. St. John’s.  Additional DePaul match-ups on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule include games against Marquette (Jan. 4), Xavier (Jan. 12), Creighton (Feb. 2), Providence (Feb. 4), and Georgetown (Feb. 16).  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will also carry the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats in action on Dec. 16 at Missouri St. (note the attached schedule for a complete listing of women’s games this season).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Numerous men’s and women’s games on NBC Sports Chicago’s college basketball schedule this season will air exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago+. NBC Sports Chicago+ (NBCSCH+) is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T, RCN, and WOW! homes among numerous other carriers and streaming services; viewers are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER page for complete channel location details.

In addition to game coverage, NBC Sports Chicago will once again provide college basketball fans with team college coaches show this season (air dates may vary during the season) – Tuesdays (beginning in early December): Inside Notre Dame Basketball with Mike Brey (5:30 PM)…Wednesdays (beginning in late December): The Foundation: Northwestern Basketball (5:30 PM)...and The Steve Prohm Show: Iowa State Basketball (Season Preview Special - Mon, Dec. 11 at 5:30 PM; weekly airings on Mondays at 5:30 PM begin in January).

2017-18 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

  1. Mon, Nov 13    11:00 am   Jacksonville St. @ Richmond   LIVE
  2. Mon, Nov 13      7:00 pm    UIC:  St. Joseph’s @ UIC           LIVE
  3. Mon, Nov 13     7:00 pm     UNI:  Alcorn State @ Northern Iowa    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  4. Wed, Nov 29      6:00 pm    Vermont @ Richmond     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  5. Fri, Dec 1            7:00 pm      Bradley:  E. Illinois @ Bradley    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  6. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm     Loyola:  UIC @ Loyola             LIVE
  7. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm        IL ST:  Tulsa @ Illinois State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  8. Sat, Dec 2            7:00 pm       Missouri St. @ S. Dakota State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  9. Mon, Dec 4         7:00 pm        Missouri St. @ N Dakota St   LIVE
  10. Thu, Dec 7           7:00 pm       UNI:  UT-Arlington @ Northern Iowa      LIVE
  11. Sat, Dec 9             3:00 pm       UIC:  DePaul @ UIC              LIVE
  12. Sat, Dec 9       3:00 pm        IL ST:  Murray State @ Illinois State      LIVE   NBCSCH+ 
  13. Sat, Dec 9         5:00 pm     James Madison @ Richmond      LIVE     NBCSCH+
  14. Sun, Dec 10             3:00 pm       Missouri St @ Oral Roberts  LIVE      NBCSCH+
  15. Tue, Dec 19              7:00 pm      IL ST:  UIC @ Illinois State         LIVE
  16. Fri, Dec 22                8:00 pm       MVC:  Loyola @ Missouri State    LIVE
  17. Sat, Dec 23               1:00 pm       MVC:  Illinois State @ Evansville    LIVE               
  18. Thu, Dec 28              7:00 pm       MVC:  Valparaiso @ Indiana State   LIVE
  19. Thu, Dec 28    7:00 pm   MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa  LIVE   NBCSCH+
  20. Sat, Dec 30               3:00 pm        MVC:  Evansville @ Loyola     LIVE
  21. Sun, Dec 31             3:00 pm         MVC: Missouri St @ Valparaiso   LIVE  NBCSCH+
  22. Wed, Jan 3                7:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Loyola         LIVE   NBCSCH+
  23. Sat, Jan 6                  3:00 pm         MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Valparaiso     LIVE
  24. Wed, Jan 10     6:00 pm  MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Indiana State    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  25. Sat, Jan 13                3:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Loyola         LIVE
  26. Sun, Jan 14              2:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Missouri St       LIVE                                       
  27. Mon, Jan 15             7:00 pm         UIC:  Oakland @ UIC    LIVE
  28. Tue, Jan 16               7:00 pm         MVC:  Drake @ Northern Iowa    LIVE
  29. Wed, Jan 17             6:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Illinois State    LIVE
  30. Wed, Jan 17        7:00 pm    MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Loyola     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  31. Sat, Jan 20                3:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Drake     LIVE
  32. Tue, Jan 23               7:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Bradley   LIVE
  33. Sat, Jan 27                3:00 pm           UIC:  IUPUI @ UIC    LIVE
  34. Wed, Jan 31             7:00 pm            MVC:  Loyola @ Bradley       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  35. Sat, Feb 3           3:00 pm      MVC:  Indiana St @ Northern Iowa     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  36. Tue, Feb 6           6:00 pm      MVC:  Missouri St. @ Indiana St       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  37. Wed, Feb 7               7:00 pm            MVC:  Drake @ Loyola         LIVE
  38. Thu, Feb 8             7:00 pm        UIC:  Youngstown State @ UIC LIVE   NBCSCH+
  39. Sat, Feb 10                3:00 pm            MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Drake         LIVE
  40. Tue, Feb 13          7:00 pm      MVC:  Evansville @ Northern Iowa   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  41. Wed, Feb 14     7:00 pm     MVC:  Missouri St. @ Southern Illinois   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  42. Sat, Feb 17                8:00 pm            MVC:  Bradley @ Valparaiso         LIVE
  43. Wed, Feb 21     7:00 pm     MVC:  Bradley @ Missouri St.    LIVE   NBCSCH+               
  44. Sat, Feb 24           5:00 pm       St. Joseph’s @ Richmond          LIVE   NBCSCH+
  45. Sun, Feb 28               5:00 pm            UIC:  Wright State @ UIC          LIVE
  46. Thu, Mar 1                6:00 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #1    LIVE
  47. Thu, Mar 1                8:30 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #2     LIVE
  48. Fri, Mar 2                  12:00 pm         MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #1        LIVE
  49. Fri, Mar 2                  2:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #2          LIVE
  50. Fri, Mar 2                  6:00 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #3         LIVE
  51. Fri, Mar 2                  8:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #4      LIVE
     

2017-18 WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

1. Tue, Nov 14               7:00 pm            Iowa State @ Northern Iowa         LIVE
2. Sun, Nov 19            2:00 pm       Missouri @ Missouri State    LIVE  NBCSCH+
3. Wed, Nov 29             7:00 pm            Missouri St. @ Wichita St          TBA
4. Sat, Dec 16                2:00 pm            Northwestern @ Missouri St    LIVE         NBCSCH+
5. Sat, Dec 30                7:00 pm            St. Johns @ DePaul                    LIVE
6. Thu, Jan 4                   7:00 pm            DePaul @ Marquette              LIVE
7. Fri, Jan 12                   5:00 pm            Xavier @ DePaul                    LIVE         NBCSCH+
8. Fri, Jan 12                   7:00 PM           Missouri St @ Illinois State     LIVE         NBCSCH+
9. Mon, Jan 15           1:00 pm      UIC:  Milwaukee @ UIC     LIVE    NBCSCH+ 
10. Fri, Feb 2                  7:00 pm            Creighton @ DePaul                LIVE
11. Sun, Feb 4                2:00 pm            Providence @ DePaul            LIVE
12. Fri, Feb 16                7:00 pm            Georgetown @ DePaul       LIVE         NBCSCH+
13. Sun, Feb 18              3:00 pm            Missouri St @ Valparaiso    LIVE
14. Thu, Mar 1               7:00 pm            Evansville @ Missouri St     LIVE         NBCSCH+  

(Schedules as of 11/6/17)  -- ALL TIMES CENTRAL TIME
SCHEDULES SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

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AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.