Behind The Scenes

Battle of Journalism Schools: Northwestern vs. Syracuse


College football’s kickoff weekend is loaded with exciting matchups.

And one of the most highly anticipated games Saturday is Northwestern at Syracuse (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

It’s not just Big Ten versus Big East. This one goes much deeper.

It’s a battle of two of the top journalism schools in the country: The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern versus the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse.  

As Northwestern alum Mike Greenberg explains to Adnan Virk in the video above from Mike & Mike in the Morning earlier this week, there’s no shortage of ESPN employees who are graduates of these two fine academic institutions. In fact, from the legendary Brent Musburger to rookie ESPN employees fresh out of college who are working as production assistants, you would be hard-pressed to find two schools that are better represented in Bristol.

Knowing how passionate these alums are about their schools and their sports, we asked a handful of prominent graduates on both sides what they think about this game.

The amount of trash-talking might surprise you. 

Good luck to both the Wildcats and the Orange, and may the better team win.

JA Adande, Columnist (Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern): “When it comes to Northwestern and Syracuse it’s all about the names: Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism vs. Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communication. Communication? Anyone with a Twitter account can communicate. Journalism is a craft, and Northwestern alumni do it best. Just count the Pulitzer Prize winners.”

Steve Bunin, Anchor and Host (Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse): “I think it’s safe to declare that in basketball and journalism, Syracuse wins hands-down.  There really is no contest, and anybody who believes otherwise probably owns purple underwear, and therefore is, clearly, delirious.  Weather was always a toss-up with Northwestern.  Do you take their wind for our snow?  Whose lake-effect affects your life worse?  Never could tell.  Football, sadly, has become a tough pick, too, but let’s put it this way: If Northwestern wins, it’s a shining moment for their program and university.  If Syracuse wins, it’s just another W, and half the people who see the box score will think the Orange beat Northeastern.  Go ‘Cuse.”

It’s the J-School Bowl: Northwestern at Syracuse on ESPN2. (Hannah Worster/ESPN)

Mike Greenberg, ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning Co-Host (Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern): “I certainly plan to watch the Purple Pride crush the Orange, and am looking forward even more to all the trash talking I can do on Monday!”

Sean McDonough, Play-by-Play Commentator (Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse): “The football game appears to be a toss-up, but in a matchup of the respective Communications schools, it would be no contest.  Newhouse is the best in America. . .and it isn’t close!”

Beth Mowins, Play-by-Play Announcer (Master’s degree from Syracuse University): “You look at the roster of broadcasters and journalists from these two schools and you can’t help but be impressed with the quality and quantity. We take a lot of pride in what Newhouse does to train students to excel in the industry and I know Medill does too.  You knew about the tradition and success of Newhouse while you were there in class. I remember looking around the room wondering which students I would be watching on the networks and national news stations in years to come. I will run into several of them on the SU campus this weekend.  As it happens, the walk from the hotel to the Carrier Dome passes the Newhouse Complex.”

* Mowins, also a native of Syracuse, N.Y., will call Saturday’s game with analyst Joey Galloway and reporter Jenn Brown

Dave Pasch, Play-by-Play Commentator (Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse): “I don’t have any side-bets with Northwestern alumni, because they are too hard to find. There’s a Syracuse alum around every corner. Unfortunately, NU’s football team has been better of late, so I probably wouldn’t count them out anyway. On a serious note, this is a big year for Doug Marrone. He has a done a good job making the Orange competitive again. Hopefully, they can take the next step, and contend for the Big East title.” 

Darren Rovell, Sports Business Reporter & Business Correspondent (Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern): “On Saturday, I am waking up at 5:30 a.m. and taking a flight to Syracuse. I’m watching the game and then flying back. My wife, who attended Syracuse’s Newhouse school, will not know the score of the game until I either call her or return home. She doesn’t care, which is why I think the man upstairs should give the Wildcats the win.”

Adam Schefter, NFL Insider (Master’s degree from Northwestern): “I don’t know who will win Saturday’s game but I do know Northwestern is the better J-school. No contest. One-sided. Blowout. I mean, c’mon, man!”

Anish Shroff, ESPNU Host (Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse): “Steve Weissman [NU alum] made a bet. The loser of the game has to rock the tie of the opposing team the first day we are back on the air. It’s on our twitter feeds. … Even if Northwestern wins the game, Newhouse still trumps Medill every time.”

Mike Tirico, Play-by-Play Commentator, Studio and ESPN Radio Host (Bachelor’s degree from Syracuse): “I do plan on watching the game Saturday in part because I know it will in good hands with Beth Mowins doing play by play.  Her Syracuse roots guarantee an informed, unbiased, first-rate call.  Northwestern should win. They are favorites and are enjoying the success of a rebuilt program now thriving. Syracuse is going in the right direction with Coach Marrone and a few years away from getting the program back to where it should be. But that doesn’t mean an upset is impossible. We have already won the print and broadcast journalism contest so I am content with the outcome on the football field.”

Steve Weissman, ESPNEWS Anchor (Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern): “Purple is the color of royalty. Orange is a fruit. No matter what happens on the field, Medill has been and always will be the No. 1 journalism school in the country!”

Note: In addition to his friendly Twitter wager with Shroff, Weissman also has a yet to-be-determined bet with Syracuse Women’s Tennis coach and ESPN analyst Luke Jensen, whom Weissman is working with this week at the US Open.

Michael Wilbon, Pardon the Interruption, Co-Host; NBA Studio Analyst; Columnist, and (Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern): “I will watch. Making sure to avoid my Syracuse friends. I’ll sit in my man cave and watch the game and talk to NOBODY from Syracuse…Okay, I’d talk to Mike Tirico but nobody else from that other institution. We’ve got Brent Musburger, though. I’ll take Brent with the first pick in the Medill-Newhouse draft and let that be that.”

Note: Fans can be a part of the conversation around this game on social media using the hashtag #NWvsCUSE

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