Monday, July 13, 2009

Pre-1990s NU Success

Program Cover from NU's 21-0 win over Ohio State in 1958

So far the Northwestern memorabilia I’ve posted this summer has been from the 1990s onward. This is due to the fact that I started following the team and became aware of the world of sports about that time period. However, the fact is a lot of Northwestern sports history came before that time. Certainly the world of NU athletics changed in 1995 when Gary Barnett led the ‘Cats to the Rose Bowl, but NU actually had some decent football before 1995. Unfortunately, from 1972-1994 Northwestern’s football program struggled so much that it managed to wipe the memories of successes under coaches such as Bob Voigts and Ara Parseghian from the minds of many sports fans. Even as NU rebounded under Barnett, many writers only made passing mentions of the program’s success before the beginning of the dark ages in 1972.

Today, thanks to a reader who found several old pieces of NU memorabilia while cleaning out an old office at NU, I want to look back at some artifacts which can remind us of the success the Wildcats had in the late 1950s under Ara Parseghian. These memorabilia items were put together to make posters at some point as can be seen below. Sadly, the reader who sent me these items is not sure when this occurred. Considering these posters commemorate big wins, though, I suppose they could have been created in effort to promote NU football. Some of the wins NU posted during the 1958 and 1959 would probably have to rank on any list of NU’s greatest wins. For example, led by tailback Ron Burton the Wildcats destroyed #2 Oklahoma 45-13 in the 1959 season opener. After the win over OU, NU actually moved up as high as #2 in the polls and held that rank when they beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame 30-24. Unfortunately, NU couldn’t hold that rank when they lost the final three games of the 1959 season to finish at 6-3. Still, we should remember the great moments and great players from years past at Northwestern.

Program Cover from NU's win over Michigan in 1958

Northwestern beat both Oklahoma and Notre Dame in 1959

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