Here's the latest on this morning's decision to have Northwestern and Illinois share one endzone for Saturday's Big Ten game at Wrigley Field. First, from ESPN, a timeline on the publicity runup that led to the decision to curb action on the east side of the field:
According to [Illinois spokesman Kent Brown], "The Big Ten was made aware of a rule that says it needs to be 12 feet from the back of the end zone to the barrier.
There is a bit of a natural assumption when we signed off and said we'd love to play there and we were told that the field fits. I don't know that anybody looks up that rule until you see [actual the field layout]."
About that rule ... Stewart Mandel raises the question we really want answered; namely, how did this never occur to anyone over the past two years of planning?
On page 27 of the book NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations (which can be located with a quick Google search), in a section about field "dimensions," the NCAA clearly states: "Limit lines shall be marked ... 12 feet outside the sidelines and the end lines, except in stadiums where total field surface does not permit. In these stadiums, the limit lines shall not be less than six feet from the sidelines and end lines."
Six feet. Not one foot.
Which begs the obvious question: Why did it take until the day before the game to address this?
For extra giggles, check out the statement the Cubs released that gracefully tosses the Big Ten beneath a passing motorcade:
The field dimension layout was delivered to the Big Ten approximately eight months ago and was approved by the conference. Last month, the field was built exactly to the dimensions previously approved by the Big Ten.
And you think the baseball types are mad? Imagine how disgruntled ticketholders in that east endzone are feeling about now.