Behind The Scenes

Face facts: Greenberg, Wilbon play roles in Northwestern football victory

Pictures of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Mike Greenberg combined with Abraham Lincoln to help Northwestern to a ‘win’ last Saturday.

What would the assembled images of ESPN personalities Mike Greenberg and Michael Wilbon, Abraham Lincoln and the initials “W.I.N.” possibly have to do with football?

That’s for the Northwestern University Wildcats to know and their foes — and anyone else intrigued by the imagery — to ponder.

Mike Greenberg
Michael Wilbon

In the Wildcats’ 21-13 Big Ten victory over host Minnesota last Saturday, Northwestern wide receiver Cermak Bland was photographed hoisting a “play card” on the sidelines. The images of Lincoln, W.I.N. and Northwestern alums Greenberg (1989) and Wilbon (1980) on the board apparently represent a play for the Wildcats offense.

What’s the call? NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald isn’t saying.

Fitzgerald tells Front Row: “Mike and Michael will always be a part of the Northwestern family and they’re a crucial element in some of the successes we’ve earned on offense this season. They may get the lion’s share of the attention, but our play cards include lots of great Americans beyond just those two. Abraham Lincoln, for instance.”

Greenberg was thrilled to aid his Wildcats, as this Tweet reveals.

“I very much appreciate the company they put me in,” Greenberg says. “As a Medillian, I have oft tried to live up to Michael Wilbon’s standard. And, of course, I am often compared to Lincoln, for obvious reasons, so that seems like a natural fit as well. So that was terrific; I really hope we beat Nebraska this weekend.”

This Saturday in Evanston, Ill., the Wildcats play host to Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN2 (check local listings). Wilbon, coincidentally, will serve as honorary captain for the Wildcats. (Greeny and Lincoln apparently had other commitments!)

Before the 2011 season, College GameDay examined the University of Oregon’s playcalling system that uses play cards — or “signal boards” — in lieu of hand signals. The tactic also made for a funny GameDay ad.

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