Apparently we need to talk about Northwestern faking injuries vs. Cal

Stephen Lam

It seems possible that Northwestern faked injuries against Cal. It seems possible they did not. It's up to you whether that's interesting, but I've made my mind up.

Mind you, I have no desire to talk about Northwestern faking injuries against Cal. In my opinion, there are several incredibly compelling storylines to come out of No. 22 Northwestern's 44-30 victory. For example, Northwestern shrugging off injuries to Kain Colter and Venric Mark to win, and Collin Ellis going from barely a starter to a pick-sixin' machine laying waste to people around the line of scrimmage, and, um, the season-ending injury to Daniel Jones that could majorly harm Northwestern's chances for success later in the year.

However, Cal fans want to talk about the prospect of whether or not Northwestern faked injuries.

They're entitled to. If you go over to Cal Golden Blogs' thread about the topic, the evidence mounted against Northwestern is, at the very least, suspicious. There is a distinct possibility Northwestern was faking injuries to slow down Sonny Dykes' offense.

If that's the case, I'd be disappointed in whoever was involved. We've had our debates here about why Northwestern has decided to run the squeakiest cleanest program known to mankind, but it's garnered everybody involved with the program a sterling reputation, and its something many Northwestern fans hang their hat on. If you're selling yourself on always doing things the right way and then taking advantage of the rules meant to provide respite for actually injured players to gain a minor advantage on the field, that's fraudulent/dishonest/whatever other word you want to use, and Northwestern should be disappointed.

Barring that highly unlikely scenario, all we'll have are Cal fans' Zapruder films, Dykes' unbridled anger, and no certain way of knowing whether or not any of this ever happened.

However, in the same way there's a distinct possibility that Northwestern was faking injuries, there is also a very, very, very distinct possibility that Northwestern was not faking injuries. Injuries happen in football games. In fact, they happen very often -- so often that the people who made the sport put rules in place allowing for you to stop the game to take your player off the field. Any player can shoot down any conspiracy theory with "well, I was hurting really bad for a few seconds there, and then I wasn't!" and even if that sounds stupid, it's plausible because that very thing happens all the time.

And -- here's the thing -- we will most likely never, ever, ever know whether or not Northwestern was faking or not. It's in Northwestern's best interest to withhold information about the two very real injuries suffered by the team's two best offensive players, for chrissakes. You think somebody's gonna let it slip that people are faking injuries outchea?

Barring that highly unlikely scenario, all we'll have are Cal fans' Zapruder films, Dykes' unbridled anger, and no certain way of knowing whether or not any of this ever happened.

I took a great course senior year called "Intro to Astrobiology." If you take a peek at the title, you'll figure out that this course is the study of life in space. Because I'm a jerk who likes demeaning the work of others, I almost exclusively referred to this class as "ALIENS, BRO!!!! 101," and making jokes about how we should be watching documentaries such as "Independence Day," "Men in Black," and any and all other Will Smith movies.


But of course, it's actually pretty interesting. You talk for several months about whether or not there could be life somewhere else in the universe, and the various facets that go into determining that possibility, and the various projects scientists across the world have set up to search for life, intelligent or otherwise, outside of our planet.

However, on the first day of class, one thing is made pretty clear: we don't know if there are aliens or not. (Astrobiologists don't like using the phrase "aliens." I do, because, like I said, I'm a jerk.) The odds that there are aliens (Note: scientists still don't like using this term) somewhere out there are somewhat high, because the universe is so damn vast. But the odds that we as humans ever find out about it is somewhat low. And although our pop culture breeds us to think of extraterrestrial life as tiny green men, it is more likely we would happen on something much less advanced, like tons of slime molds in the Horsehead Nebula.

Despite that, millions of dollars are spent on stuff like scanning the skies for radio signals, a task based on the premise that somewhere out there, there is highly intelligent life, and that life has developed the exact same technology humans -- who have existed for but a blip in the lifespan of the planet Earth, and have had that technology for a blip in their existence -- and that this highly intelligent life is using their technology to shoot indecipherable messages into the universe.

Every astrobiologist on the planet will almost assuredly die without knowing whether there is life in space.

My point: Every astrobiologist on the planet will almost assuredly die without knowing whether there is life in space. I think we can safely bet their children will, too. (Technology is advancing at a really rapid pace, so I'm not gonna pencil in their children, but I'd consider putting money on it, depending on the line.)

I have no qualms with astrobiologists. Like I said, I thought the course was really interesting, even if I was only taking it because I needed three science classes to get out of Medill and it was senior spring quarter. If for some reason, an astrobiologist is reading this post, I apologize for vastly oversimplifying your field.

But I'm not an astrobiologist. Because to me, I think the study of things we can possibly discover is more interesting than a field that will always end in a question mark.

So it is with football. I hope Northwestern got their win with its best intentions, and it would make me disappointed to find out that they did not. But I also know that we'll probably never know.

And if that's the case, I'm going to focus on the things we do know: that Northwestern is 1-0, and that there's still work to be done.

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