Northwestern football can trace its beginning all the way back to February 22, 1876. It was an exhibition game between Northwestern and the Chicago Football Club.
One student remembers, “I was thinking, ‘Why the hell were they playing football in the middle of February in Chicago?’ I hoped Northwestern had a good psychology department, because the whole team needed their head examined.”
The program really didn’t get going until 1891 when they selected royal purple as the school’s colors.
A student explained: “Purple is between red and blue on the color chart. We chose purple because we are always blue from Chicago winters, and red because we are embarrassed by our school record in competitive sports. Hey, someone has to be the smart kids.”
Northwestern joined six other schools in 1896 to create the Western Conference, predecessor of the Big 10.
One historian added: “The Big 10 name came later. If they had used than moniker in the beginning, it would have been called Big 7. Or, if they factored in Northwestern’s sports prowess, Big 6.5.”
“Hey someone’s got to be the smart kids.”