After reviewing a teaser unveiled last week to promote his school's new football uniforms, Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips admitted he was "astonished" to learn that the school played football before 1995. "I didn't know it, either," said Phillips. "I had our history department look it up, and it turns out we've been playing football since 1876."
The Wildcats were charter members of the Big Ten Conference (once described as "a mistake I will take to my grave" by inaugural conference commissioner John L. Griffith) but, according to its dozens of fans, didn't start playing football until a century later. "Turns out that's not the case," said Phillips. "You could have knocked me over with a feather."
Northwestern's storied football history includes such gridiron legends as the guy who did play-by-play on American Gladiators and former quarterback Jimmy Johnson. "It's not that Jimmy Johnson," said Phillips.
He added, "Nope, not the Nascar guy either."
When a reporter notified Phillips that college football hall of fame inductee Otto Graham played for the Wildcats from 1941 through 1943, Phillips replied, "No kidding? The Field of Dreams kid? I guess it makes sense; he eventually became a doctor."
Phillips was especially surprised to find the footage of pre-1995 games. "That blew my mind," the athletic director said. "It's so rare to find pre-war Northwestern football footage. And by pre-war, I mean before the Gulf War."
He added, "I mean, how do you get footage of a game that nobody attended? I guess someone must have left a camera running after a marching band competition or something."
Northwestern begins its eighteenth season of competitive football, and 137th overall, in September. They will apparently have new uniforms. Nobody will care.