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Intro to Northwestern for Auburn Fans

Wildcats Versus Tigers - It isn’t the size of the cat in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the ‘Cats.

As you know, the Outback Bowl announced that it will be the Northwestern Wildcats versus the Auburn Tigers on New Years Day. This will be an interesting match-up. I know - I grew up as an Auburn fan before turning into a Wildcat. (I was even offered a (academic) scholarship to Auburn, but took a (academic) scholarship at NU instead.) In my last column, I tried to give an introduction to Auburn for the Northwestern fanbase. This time I’m giving a little NU background for the Auburn faithful.

Who is Northwestern?

Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois - a suburb of Chicago. It is a private university (the only one in the Big Ten). It is also the smallest member of the Big Ten. The name Northwestern is a reference to what used to be the Northwest Territory.

Northwestern University is often shortened to Northwestern or NU. (NW is not the preferred set of initials.)

Northwestern is best known for its academics. To illustrate this, NU faculty have won four Nobel prizes (Auburn has zero). NU football has zero national championships (Auburn has four). This dichotomy is considered okay.

As a result of our SATs being really high, some of the football cheers may seem unintelligible. These include:

Taunting the opposing teams of the Big Ten with “State-school, State-school…”

Jingling car-keys before kickoffs - this symbolizes the expectation that people from the other school will one day park our cars as we drop them off at the valet.

“Our SATs are higher!”

Various cheers that involve five-syllable-plus words that one would see only in the SATs.

And the ever popular “Go U! NU!”

Expect to hear these and more at the Outback Bowl.

The closest thing the SEC has to Northwestern is Vanderbilt University. (NU plays Vandy at the opening of the 2010 football season. I can already imagine the game being called “The Nerd Bowl.”)

NU is known as the Wildcats. They used to be known as “The Fighting Methodists” until 1924. The school colors are purple and white. Northwestern competes in 19 intercollegiate sports. Northwestern also has “The best Band in the Land”™ - the Northwestern University Marching Band (NUMB). (I was in NUMB - Trombone.) More about NUMB later. For right now, you need to understand that NUMB is worth a 3 point “home team” advantage all by themselves - even on the road.

BTW, a *lot* of stage, screen, and TV actors are graduates of NU. They are so well known and connected that they are sometimes collectively called the Northwestern Mafia. Examples include Charlton Heston - the guy who played Moses in “The Ten Commandments.” He was also the head of the NRA at one point.

As I said in my previous column, football is a religion in Alabama. Like many religions, football in Alabama (as opposed to Alabama Football) has multiple sects - the two major ones being Alabama and Auburn. Frankly, the Big Ten doesn’t have a rivalry that matches the “Kill them all and let God sort ‘em out” mentality of the Iron Bowl. But NU does have an in-state rival - the University of Illinois Illini.

I’ll write more about Northwestern - especially NU football - soon. But let me put this bluntly, Aubie will know he’s been in a fight. And if Auburn loses, I’m sure he’ll *never* hear the end of it from the Alabama fans.

Go ‘Cats!

(or maybe... War Wildcats!)

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)



  1. Bobby Jack, how quickly we forget! NUMB is not merely "The best Band in the Land". How tame. NUMB is "The Greatest Band In The Whole Damned Land!" punctuated with a Growl and followed by a Grind.

    The Big Ten certainly has its own decades-long bloody rivalry. Consider (The) Ohio State (University) vs (University of) Michigan, always the regular season closer for both schools.

    BS (former NUMB Grinder, and the author's partner in mayhem)

  2. BobS - I stand corrected. :-)

    NUMB is "The Greatest Band In The Whole Damned Land!" And don't *anyone* ever forget it!

    Go 'Cats!