Northwestern strategically placed Vanderbilt on its schedule, pinning two like-minded football programs against each other. The first two contests were thrillers, with the Wildcats earning hard-fought victories. The two schools won't play again, not anytime soon.
A letter arrived in Evanston on Wednesday informing athletic director Jim Phillips that Vanderbilt would cancel its matchups with Northwestern in 2013 and 2014. There was no phone call or even an email, instead, a letter sent through the mail.
With a vacancy in the 2013 slate, Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips reacted quickly, adding Western Michigan into Vanderbilt's place for a Sept. 14 matchup in Evanston.
"We're looking forward to welcoming Coach Bill Cubit and the Broncos to Ryan Field for the first time next September," said Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Coach has been a great friend for a long time and he runs a very successful program we have the utmost respect for."
Fitzgerald offered his thoughts on Vanderbilt's cancelation of the series, taking shots at the program on The Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score in Chicago.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “We thought that we were peer institutions, and obviously we were mistaken. I think it just shows where our program is heading in comparison to theirs.”
Northwestern and Vanderbilt happen to be recruiting rivals, often pursuing the same prospects and using a similar recruiting pitch. Fitzgerald now sees Vanderbilt in a different light.
"I've got a lot of respect for [Coach James Franklin] and what they're trying to get done there, but obviously we're in two different places as a program," said Fitzgerald. "To have them [cancel] the way they did ... I'm just disappointed."