Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Iowa Week

The Wildcats followed up the crushing hat debacle with another defeat against an irritatingly resurgent Michigan team last week. I came in expecting an insane high-scoring quarterback shootout, and the first quarter did not disappoint as both teams flew up and down the field. Fitz even successfully used the passing quarterback/running quarterback alternation strategy with Persa and Colter, hoping to confuse the Michigan defense by getting them think that they would obviously pass with a hobbled Persa and run with the dynamic Colter, but maybe they'll switch things up and run with Persa but maybe they already thought about that so they'll really pass with Persa, but no, that seems to obvious, what if they run with Persa but then he flips it back to Colter who then laterals to Former High School Quarterback Jeremy Ebert who bombs it to a wide open Rashad Lawrence streaking down the sideline.

Mick McCall's game plan is based on a solid foundation of

In the second quarter, though, the offenses tapered off. The Michigan offense came prepared for a shootout in the second half, but Northwestern could not score at all, and now the Wildcats stand at an alarming 2-3 at the precipice of missing a bowl game. So let us turn our attention away from this worrying development in Northwestern football to make fun of hilariously corrupt colonial officials.


British India in the early nineteenth century was sandwiched in between a trade monopoly ruling through the accepted traditions of the regions and an aggressive expansionist global power. The East India Company technically administered British India, but the British government controlled the region's political and strategic affairs. The small British bureaucracy maintained influence indirectly through alliances with the myriad Princely States under British protection. The British government sent Residents to their courts, political agents who kept an eye out for treacherous anti-British alliances, advised the rulers, and generally maintained British interests. Throughout the eighteenth century, these Residents often existed within a familiar context of conquest and occasionally adopted Mughal customs (this phenomenon is wonderfully chronicled in William Dalrymple's White Mughals).

By the early nineteenth century, a reforming tide had arrived. British officials in India began promoting English-language education, civil service reforms, and a joyless Victorian moralism. Civil service reform began in earnest with the appointment of William Bentinck, a utilitarian under the influence of a pre-taxidermied Jeremy Bentham who sought to modernize the Indian government. The case of the British Resident at Delhi, Sir James Edward Colebrooke, gives a fascinating look at the intersection of the British and Indian worlds meeting at the crossroads of universal pocket-lining corruption.

Governor-General Bentinck (l) was influenced by UK Stare Champion
James Mill (center) and Jeremy Bentham, shown here in stuffed form
worshiped by an evil utilitarian cult apparently appeasing his logical
wrath by bringing him a fresh head

The accusations against Colebrooke can be found in this October 1932 edition of Asiatic Journal. Colbrooke, by then an aged official in the prime of his venality, stood accused of dozens of incidents of corruption mainly concerned with giving and receiving gifts from various leaders of Princely states, a practice which had been banned in 1828 as part of a reform initiative. In one sense, Colebrooke's crime had been not adjusting to the new bureaucratic regime and conducting affairs through a more Mughal mode. On the other hand, Colebrooke had been caught in the great tradition of nakedly buying and selling influence for a variety of nineteenth century bounty that left him condemned by nineteenth century language vituperative enough to enable the construction of the world's highest horse. Here is an arbitrary sample of charges against Colebrooke:
  • Accepting nuzzurs (a ceremonial offer of money and gifts prohibited by the 1828 law) from "every native above the lowest rank who has been introduced to him, with hardly any exception"
  • Embezzling public property
  • Allowing Lady Colbrooke to receive at her durbar the agents of the independent states and to maintain "an intimate and corrupt understanding with many of them"
  • Not paying his manservant but allowing him to accumulate wealth through "corrupt and criminal practices"
  • Improperly receiving an elephant
  • Illicit trading of shawls
  • Selling furniture, carriages, and other articles of property to "natives of considerable rank...some of those transactions being of a highly disgraceful and fraudulent description"
  • Receiving tantalizing vague "trays of stuffs"
The report concludes that Colbrooke was guilty of "gross misrepresentations," deprecated his defense as "discreditable," and was summarily removed from office. The case was prosecuted by Charles Trevelyan, a young official in India who later went on to a famous career in the British Civil Service. Bentinck praised him for doing his job "ably, honourably, and manfully" despite his "most painful and invidious task." Bentinck also praised the judges and used the case to show his civil service reform at work, hopefully in the dulcet plummy tones of this fictional colonial official (I know I keep linking to this clip, but I have yet to point out how much I love the way that actor chews up the phrase "from smuggling to swindling to receiving stolen goods to baldfaced blackmail." So sue me in the disciplinary courts of the Raj).

Charles Trevelyan contemplates
throwing the book at Colbrooke, but
worries that Colbrooke will sell it to
Nawab Shumsooddeen Khan for an
egregiously inappropriate number of
trays of stuffs


Iowa and Northwestern fans have developed a deep mutual antipathy this century that has been deepened by their proclivity to dash each others' Big Ten title hopes. Northwestern fans certainly remember the 2000 game at Kinnick where a two-win Hawkeye squad demolished the Wildcats' Rose Bowl hopes before gleefully storming the field, a loss that set in motion through mysterious machinations (that I suspect involved an illicit exchange of scarves involving Michigan boosters and bowl representatives) a berth in the far less prestigious Alamo Bowl. At least the loss in that bowl game has set the scene for the vicious LEGENDS DIVISION showdown in Lincoln where the Wildcats will face a hostile crowd of Nebraska fans suddenly remembering that they play Northwestern each year. In recent years Northwestern has paid the 2000 loss back with interest, defeating Iowa three years in a row, and five of the last six, occasionally ending their BCS ambitions.

Pat Fitzgerald loads his equipment from the last Iowa-
Northwestern game

This year the stakes are lower. Both the Wildcats and Hawkeyes bring sputtering squads to their clash at Kinnick. The disappointing record of both teams, however, may make this game even more important. Northwestern desperately needs a win to get back on course to make the illustrious Pizza City Bowl, and finally beating Northwestern may give the Hawkeyes the boost they need to become contenders in the mild division (which division? Ah, yes the LEGENDS DIVISION, thanks for reminding me that that's a thing). A clash of struggling teams may produce a swelling of enthusiasm that parallels the proclivity of these two fanbases for arguing with each other on the Internet.

The civil and gentlemanly discourse regarding a difference of
opinion on the subject of the superiority of a college football

This game seems like it may also be a shootout, with Iowa's defense less staunch than it has traditionally been and with Northwestern's defense struggling against the unsporting chicanery of the forward pass. Given Northwestern's struggles against Illinois and Michigan, the combination of Vandenburg and McNutt is as terrifying, and Iowa fans have nightmares of Dan Persa, the latest in what seems to be an endless parade of mobile, accurate Northwestern quarterbacks.


The excitement of another Iowa-Northwestern game raises the question of why these new rivals cannot play for some sort of awful trophy now that they play every year (at least until the next round of conference expansions leads to a a massive 119-team conference called the Uncontemplatably Gargantuan Ten and Notre Dame). Either that, or the teams should play for lucrative control of all four Quad Cities or at the least the ability for each university to station a Resident there to bleed the region dry of its most valuable commodity--trays of stuffs.

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