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Offense will always go west at the Illini / Northwestern game at Wrigley

In arguably the oddest and most unorthodox move ever decided upon for a college gridiron battle, we just caught word that the heralded match-up at Wrigley Field this year will feature a bit of a caveat: the offense will always move east to west, towards one  end zone.

The reason? Poor planning by the field’s commission or whatever you want to call it up in Evanston.

Seems as though the east end zone is just a touch too tight for comfort, and even with padding, those brick walls loom large, even psychologically, during actual play.

Here is what it looks like up close:

Fortuitously, my friend emailed just yesterday to let me know that the rooftop tickets that he has secured for us were being MOVED to a left field building, as opposed to a right field one. Bummer, right?

Not anymore. For those sitting in the right field stands or along the first baseline, tomorrow’s game is going to, in a word, suck.

From the wire:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Chipman, Big Ten Conference
November 19, 2010


Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced a series of adjustments to football playing rules in order to enhance student-athlete safety for the Illinois-Northwestern game to be played on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Big Ten worked with both Illinois and Northwestern to review a number of potential rule or field adjustments to provide the safest environment for the student-athletes. The conference requested and received waivers to several NCAA playing rules in the interest of student-athlete safety.

The following rule changes were determined to be the best of all options and will be in effect for this game only based on the unique layout of the field.

1) All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.
2) All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3) After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.
4) As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes. Wrigley Field is one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans.”


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