Big Ten

After he 'got the ball rolling' for Chris Collins, Chicago native Vic Law proving he was right to pick Northwestern

After he 'got the ball rolling' for Chris Collins, Chicago native Vic Law proving he was right to pick Northwestern

SALT LAKE CITY — Northwestern's rise from the bottom of the Big Ten standings to the NCAA tournament had to start somewhere.

Considering the job he's done in four years at the helm of the program, it would make sense to point to the day Chris Collins was hired as head coach.

But ask Collins, and he might say it was the day Vic Law committed to the Wildcats.

The St. Rita product was ranked just outside the top 100 nationally by Rivals back in 2014, and he had offers from perennial tournament teams. But Law instead picked Northwestern, a decision a lot of people didn't understand. But fast forward to now, and Law buying what Collins was selling is a big reason why the Cats are in the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

"I can't play anymore. All I can do is stand over in the sideline and call plays and run practices. I needed to find players that believed the way I did," Collins said Wednesday. "And Vic was the first guy, and it was a monumental recruit for us. He was a local product, Chicago kid. He had a perception in the city of being a very good prospect, recruit, was recruited by a lot of top programs. For him to have the courage to say, 'I see something in this coach, I see something in this program,' it really got the ball rolling for us to start what we've been able to build over the last four years."

Law's commitment was a big deal for Collins and Northwestern, the highest-rated recruit the program had ever seen. And the journey of the last three seasons since he arrived on campus has been an even bigger deal for Law. There were folks saying he made a bad call in picking the Cats over others, blasting the program for its non-existent winning history.

But this season has changed all that. Law — along with a roster full of Collins' other recruiting successes — has helped Northwestern to a program-record 23 wins, big wins in the regular season over Wisconsin and Michigan and in the Big Ten Tournament against Maryland, the team's first-ever trip to the conference-tournament semifinals and obviously the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.

A special season has established Northwestern as a winning program, it's shown that Collins rebuilding effort has resulted in his team's arrival on the scene. But it's done one other thing: It's made Law right.

"'Why would you choose there, a place with no culture, no tradition?'" Law recounted, giving some examples of what people asked him three years ago. "They were saying it was a bad choice, I was just going there because it was close to home.

"But now this year, this is the year that everything’s kind of come into the light. It feels like all my hopes, everything that I knew about this program is finally coming true, finally happening. And when you make all those haters and nonbelievers into followers, it feels really good."

And just like so many of the other storylines involving this Northwestern team, things can only get better. Wednesday, the entire team had the same message, that the Cats aren't satisfied with simply making the NCAA tournament, that they want to win in the NCAA tournament. Law was saying the same thing.

Just like he had a belief that Northwestern could one day reach this spot, he has a belief that there's no limit to what the Cats can do.

"Obviously we came in here to show not just that we can make it but to show we can win games," Law said. "If we win tomorrow, it's just another step in the road for what we're really trying to accomplish, and that's to win the whole thing."

Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'

Big Ten to play conference-only NCAA football schedule 'if able'

The Big Ten announced on Thursday that they will not play any non-conference games this fall, if they’re able to play at all.

The move comes after the Ivy League cancelled all fall sports earlier in the week.

In the statement the Big Ten said, “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.

“In addition, the Conference announced that summer athletic activities will continue to be voluntary in all sports currently permitted to engage in such activities. Furthermore, Big Ten student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics at any time during the summer and/or the 2020-21 academic year due to concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarship honored by their institution and will remain in good standing with their team.”

The Big Ten also said they’re prepared to cancel their fall sports entirely, if needed to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes.

This all leads to more questions as to how the Big Ten schedule will ultimately take shape. For instance, the first three games on the University of Illinois’s schedule are all non-conference games. Will more in-conference games be scheduled to replace them, or will the Fighting Illini simply begin their season on Oct. 3 with their first conference game against Rutgers?

All of that remains to be seen, as the conference said more details regarding the conference-only schedule will be released later.

RELATED: Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

USA Today

Northwestern football will not host Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field

Northwestern football will no longer host their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Wrigley Field. The university announced the decision on Wednesday.

The Wildcats were supposed to play the Badgers at the Friendly Confines on Nov. 7. Although the university didn’t officially announce it, team's website says the game will be played at Ryan Field.

“This is a disappointing conclusion to reach, but absolutely the right one in our current environment,” said Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. “The uncertainty of football and baseball schedules, and the possibility of limited attendance, made this an easy choice to make for our student-athletes and fans.

“We’re grateful for our outstanding partners from the Cubs, and look forward to bringing the passion and pageantry of college football gameday to the city’s north side when we can do so safely and securely with a packed house.”

Northwestern initially brought college football back to Wrigley in 2010. Previously the last college football game at Wrigley was played in 1938. Since then, Northwestern has hosted both lacrosse and baseball games at Clark and Addison.

The university is still on track to kick off their season on Sept. 5 at Michigan State.

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