BS Interview Series -- Lake The Posts

We like to try different features around here and one that I've been kicking around is an interview series, primarily aimed at the various -- and nearly all awesome -- Big Ten Blogger network that we're proudly a part of. Today launches that interview series with the widely-acknowledged as excellent Lake The Posts, a Northwestern-devoted site that should be among your regular reads if it isn't already. Just slot it in after porn downloads and before illicit webcam usage. Enjoy.

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Boiled Sports: Pat Fitzgerald recently launched a Facebook group. On the one hand, this makes him seem far more in tune with today’s college athletes than other coaches in the Big Ten (imagine Joe Tiller’s Facebook travails makes me chuckle). But on the other hand, doesn’t this seem a bit risky? I mean, young girls, potential recruiting gray areas, pictures of people being drunk… aren’t these all things a college coach should be avoiding? What’s your take?

Lake The Posts: I actually posted about this exact thing. It doesn’t concern me at all since the university restricted it to only current students. The school is closely monitoring it for the exact reasons you’ve mentioned. If you want to see this gone awry check out BHGP’s site for multiple examples of why Iowa is shutting down athlete’s profiles. Fitz, along with new AD Jim Phillips are on an attendance mission (along with LTP!) and this is a proactive measure to try and create more of a buzz on campus. When you have a 47,000-seat stadium and only 7,500 undergrads, you have to get as many as possible to fill seats. It is no secret that NU’s attendance mystery (has declined steadily for 10 years straight and was at a pathetic 25,000 last season) despite relative success for the program are a top priority. Considering the student ratio to total stadium seats is significantly better at every other school, including Purdue. So, long-winded way of saying I’m all for it.

BS: Are you 100% sold on Fitz as a potentially successful coach? There’s a feeling among others – us included – that he sometimes seems like he’s in over his head.

LTP: I’d say 95%. There is a very small faction of NU fans who are itchy [I think there's ointment for that - J], but the general consensus is that this is finally his year to prove himself. No one, not a soul, can question his passion and recruiting prowess, as I’ve had several former players email me, unsolicited, about what an impression he’s making with current players and recruits. Keep this in perspective – 2006 was a complete wash. Fitz was 32 and had 4 weeks from the passing of Randy Walker to the start of training camp. Less than 2 months to get ready for his first season as a coach. That season is a complete blur for players, coaches and fans. This past season, his first “full season” if you include off-season prep, he went a disappointing 6-6, but keep in mind he had the full slate of Walker’s assistants.The most unknown fact about this Cats team are the new faces on the coaching staff. We nabbed Wisconsin D-coordinator, Mike Hankwitz to replace the inadequate Greg Colby (7 years of futility) and Mick McCall from Bowling Green at the offensive coordinator spot. We also upgraded with our new D-line coach. It is a senior-laden team, with Fitz’ guys in at the key coaching spots. Expectations are about as good as they get in Evanston these days. Anything less than 8-4 this season and fans will be chirping. I believe in him. If you’re ever around him you cannot help to believe in him.

BS: When you think of Purdue athletics, what do you think of?

LTP: Let’s see…Dimly-lit Mackey Arena, Gene Keady, Joe Tiller, great tradition of women’s hoops, the most underrated decade of men’s hoops (Purdue in the 1990s), Drew Brees and Vinny Sutherland crushing the Cats with a 99-yard TD pass, a bigass drum, the resemblance between your mascot Pete and Gene Keady and the oldest crowd in the Big Ten. And of course, the obligatory tributes by TV commentators to Mike Alstott’s parents for attending every game home and away. In case you didn’t know.

I think of Purdue as Switzerland. Overall, a respectable middle-of-the-pack athletic program with some real upside on any given year. Your fans are pleasant and respectful which is why I think Purdue is easy to root for. I was crushed to see Kyle Orton’s fumble against Wisconsin several years ago when you were on pace for a national title and Heisman.
[Ugh, us, too. –BS] I’ve never seen one play crush a team so badly – I was at the Cats win the very next week when Orton got pulled as we pounded Purdue. It was sad. Overall, NU has a lot of respect for our friends in West Lafayette. Matt Painter’s hoops season was the story of the year in college hoops last year and must have you psyched for hoops. I have to point out that I love the fact Northwestern Ave leads you to Ross-Ade. I’ve only been to a game there once – in 1995 when we clinched the Big Ten title – but it has a karmic sense of soothing for a visiting Wildcat fan.

BS: Your site is highly respected in the blogging community and especially among Big Ten Bloggers. There’s the obvious pride of having your writing respected – but is it extra special since it’s maybe giving Northwestern athletics a few ounces of needed respect?

LTP: Thanks for the props. I started the blog because I am so sick of the 1980s perception of our athletic program being perpetrated by idiot fans. Any incoming recruit has seen Northwestern as Big Ten champs in football (3 since 1995) more than any other school aside from the big two. I sometimes even get caught playing into the “woe is me” card before I smack myself. I love the input from fans and former players who religiously read the site. There are those moments of “who the hell am I to say?” but they’re often assuaged when I get an insider who agrees – or disagrees – but respects my stance. I know for a fact the NU Athletic department actually reads the blog daily which is refreshing to know they may take one idea in a year and act on it, thus I may be making a tiny difference.

BS: Does your blood boil when Cats athletics are bashed? Why or why not?

LTP: Yes, see above. There is a difference between bashing like I like to bash Iowa and just uneducated stereotypes. NU’s Big Ten record is nearly identical to Penn State over the past six seasons, but I don’t need to tell you the difference in perception. I take major issue with basketball – both men’s and women’s (more in a minute) but NU fans actually take great pride in the non-revenue sports as we’re having an incredible spring with three, top-15 programs in the hunt for a national title – women’s lacrosse is a #1 seed (looking for 4th straight NCAA title), women’s tennis as a #1 seed in their tournament and softball heading back hopefully for a 3rd straight World Series appearance. Things are clicking with the exception of hoops.

BS: Tell us something we might not know about Northwestern football or basketball.

LTP: NU fans are excited for football for the reasons I listed, but we’re returning to the no-huddle in our spread for the 1st time since the Big Ten (co)champion year of 2000. For the first time since perhaps the 8-8 2004 season and maybe even the Evan Eschmeyer era, there is a buzz about hoops. The Cats are now the tallest team in the Big Ten after what many consider to be the best recruiting class in the history of the school. We landed 5 guys including Kyle Rowley – a 7-foot center who chose NU over G-Town, Indiana and Ohio State among others and all five are 6-6 or taller including three who are 6-9 and taller. The Cats landed an Illinois first team all-stater which rarely happens. Our women’s coach thankfully resigned after running what was once a glorious program into the ground. Our new AD’s first chance to make a mark is now with the imminent hire.

BS: Best moment for you personally as a Cats fan. Worst moment for you as a Cats fan.

LTP: Easy. Best? 9/2/95 watching NU stun Notre Dame in person (and the ride of 1995). Worst? Tie – 9/9/95 watching NU blow a 20-point second half lead at home to Miami (OH) causing us to eventually possibly lose the national championship in an otherwise perfect season. This ties with a bevy of other painful losses – UNH at home in 2006, Duke at home in 2007 to snap the longest DI losing streak and Iowa in 2000 which cost us a Rose Bowl berth.

BS: I find it fascinating that the best and worst moments are a week apart. Anyway, next question. Do you have a college program other than your true love that you kind of have a guilty pleasure for? For example, despite all the haters, do you have a soft spot for Florida football or North Carolina basketball or something like that?

LTP: No brainer. Providence College basketball since I’m from there and DePaul women’s hoops since I’m good friends with the coach.

BS: What did you think of Buzz Bissinger’s old-man rant against blogging in general?

LTP: I think he completely lost his credibility to anyone under the age of 35. It will be viewed at as the tipping point in the mainstream/blogger tension. I found it ironic considering the same guy is collecting royalty checks from a TV show based on his book that is about the most sensationalized, stereotyped Texas high school show one could imagine (a show I do love, by the way). I think the ripple effect from his commentary has painted a broad brush, erroneously, on all bloggers, in effect, implying that we simply all are card-carrying members of the “we hate mainstream media” fan club. This is the shameful part of it.

BS: I didn't know we were issued cards for that club.

BS: Most of those of us who write one of these blogsites have a steady list of sites they visit every morning. What are some favorite blogs of yours to read? List as many or as few as you’d like.

LTP: I keep an eye on all of the Big Ten blogger sites through the Google reader, but I usually go to DanShanoff.com as a first stop b/c he does such a good job cribbing what’s going on in a short amount of time. I hit the Chicago papers online and some of the national CFB sites like EDSBS, SMQ and a few others. I trust my Google RSS feed for Northwestern stuff as well. I think Boiled Sports is doing a great job, by the way. You have a great balance of ascerbic wit mixed with “must read” Purdue info. Keep up the great work and we’re looking forward to payback this year in Evanston on the Wilford Brimley farewell tour!

What's up with Wheldon's teeth?

"What'd you say about Marv Levy?!?!"

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