I know I shouldn't be surprised, but it's amazing how much interest a topic like how to designate Northwestern and Nebraska generates. Yes, mid February definitely is here. My inbox is absolutely packed with responses from Wildcats, Huskers and their Big Ten brethren.
Both fan bases have spoken, and the majority of folks I heard from want to be called NU. I will honor their wishes in the blog, call both programs NU and do my best to avoid the NU designation whenever possible in headlines and other areas.
Many folks seem fine with two NUs in the Big Ten, although cases were made for both squads.
I'll summarize them.
Nebraska's case for NU: We're the real NU. Everyone knows it coast to coast. Nebraska U is in the fight song. We're the big-time program with the national championships and the massive fan base. We crushed Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl and will continue to do so in the future. No one will care if Northwestern becomes NW, while there'll be hell to pay if Nebraska becomes anything but NU.
Northwestern's case for NU: We were here first. Nebraska is the Big Ten newcomer. The Huskers can adjust. We don't care if most people call us NW. They're dummies who don't understand that Northwestern is one word. It's Northwestern University, people, N-U. You don't need a Northwestern degree to understand that. It's in our fight song (Go U, NU). We're NU, end of story.
OK, on to your responses. I've divided them into three categories and added my comments when appropriate.
Betsy from Houston: I am a native Nebraskan and have been a Husker fan for 45 yrs. It's "NU" now and forever.
Tim from Eugene, Ore.: Hi Adam,As a lifelong Husker, Dear Old Nebraska has ALWAYS been "NU" to me. And actually that naming convention started with the old Big 8 Schools - Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, etc., were all known as OU, KU, MU...Regardless, I can rightfully ask Northwestern to adopt the much maligned NW, especially since -- as you pointed out -- Northwestern is one word, not two.But... could I humbly suggest that the N.W. stands not for just Northwestern, but Northwestern Wildcats? Just a thought.And while I'm comfortable being calling NEBR or NEB, I can't help but think on a national level, most people will associate NU with Nebraska more than Northwestern. For better or worse, I feel like we're more nationally known by that moniker.
Adam Rittenberg: Not a bad call on NW being Northwestern Wildcats. Somehow, I don't think Northwestern fans will go for it, but I like the effort.
David from Perryville, Md.: Adam,As a Husker Alum and fan, I think the only options are NU or NEB. UNL is the "school code". It makes Nebraska seem like a satellite campus. So I think most Husker fans would be happy with NEB if you so choose. I think everyone would rather split up NW and NEB so that we all know what we're reading when we're reading it. I've already been confused once or twice. It makes more sense to split them up, the acronym you choose for each will set in over time. I mean this is the B1G TEN, where the divisions are Legends and Leaders. If THAT can sink in as the norm, then so can NEB or NW!
Max from Lincoln, Neb.: In the world of Athletics, Nebraska is NU. In academia, Northwestern is NU. So for all intents and purposes of this blog, Nebraska is most certainly the one and only NU.
Adam Rittenberg: Now I'm really confused.
Al from Belmopan, Belize: The NU designation is not likely to be a huge issue for most Husker fans. Those of us who grew up in the state generally refer to the university as UNL to distinguish it from UNO (Omaha) and UNK (Kearney). Very few people outside the region would know what UNL means. NU comes from the Husker fight song "Good ol Nebraska U", so the University will never completely abandon it.Given Northwestern fans true love for the moniker, I would vote for NU for Northwestern and Neb. for Nebraska.
Matthew from Corpus Christi, Texas: NU v NU. In my opinion the bigger fan base should be allowed to call their team NU. From what I see, Nebraska has the bigger student body and therefore the bigger network of alumni, additionally, their TV ratings are a lot better. I would have to say on this note, Nebraska should be called NU and going forward Northwestern should be called NW. The strong will do what they can and the weak will suffer what they must. As a back up though you can call Nebraska UNL as most people in Nebraska call it UNL to distinguish it from the Omaha and Kearney campuses.
Adam Rittenberg: Thanks for bringing Thucydides into the discussion, Matthew.
Jeff from Gretna, Neb.: I think that Northwestern should be NU and Nebraska should be Neb. Makes sense, right? If this is as bad as it gets in the Big 10, that is one more reason to be glad to be gone from the Texas 12.
Cory from Omaha writes: SKERS baby!You'd definately get the younger demographic on board.
Wesley H. from Seoul, South Korea: I'm a Nebraska fan through and through, but I think there is an easier way to solve it. Instead of picking one or the other to be NU, how about NEB-NW. I think both schools and their massive fan bases will understand. But if someone has to be an NU, I'd go with Northwestern, because I think the majority of Red Sea will be fine with NEB.
Chris from Lincoln, Neb.: Mr. Rittenberg,I believe Nebraska should be referred to as "the best, most important football team in all the universe." or 'tbmiftiatu'. I'm only half kidding.Or just simply, 'NU'. I think both Northwestern and Nebraska can both be referred to as NU.
Adam Rittenberg: If I can get "tbmiftiatu" through spell checker and the blog editors, I'll use it.
Blake from Cheyenne, Wyo.: Adam, I don't envy your dilemma with the NU-NU situation. I am an alum of the University of Nebraska, and here are my two cents:Nebraska was fortunate to be extended an invitation to join the Big Ten conference. It would seem to be proper manners to reciprocate the act of kindness. Though I suspect that in 20-30-40 years, Nebraska football will tally a higher total in the win column, we (as fans, and as a university) have no right to ask for the NU (from Northwestern), therefore we respectfully decline the offer, and ask the media (you) to take this task upon yourself, as it is ultimately your call, not ours. Thank you for your efforts.
George S. from Newport News, Va.: you must know Northwestern University shall retain sole possession of the NU label. We were founded first (1851 v 1869). We are a founding member of the Big Ten, more than a century before Nebraska joined our ranks. If historical facts and right-of-ways aren't good enough, then maybe grammar is. As you pointed out, "Northwestern University" is two words that should be abbreviated (by most standards) as "NU". University of Nebraska can be UN or UNL as both are uncontested in the Big Ten. Adam, please deign, once and for all, that Northwestern remains NU and Nebraska assumes UN. Thank you, and Go Purple!
Adam Rittenberg: I'd point out, George, that the Big Ten hasn't made Illinois or Iowa change its designation. Same goes for the two U of Ms, Michigan and Minnesota. I think the league can accommodate two schools with the same abbreviation.
Alex from Chicago: Northwestern was here first - they have the rightful claim to NU.
Michael from San Antonio: To me the answer is simple for two reasons: 1) Northwestern's proper name is "Northwestern University" (i.e., NU), while Nebraska's proper name is University of Nebraska-Lincoln (i.e., UNL) 2) Squatter's rights! Northwestern has been in the Big Ten forever, Nebraska is the newcomer so they have to change. If you want to go further, Northwestern was founded in 1851 and Nebraska in 1869.I'm a Northwestern alum, so I'm biased, but when I hear someone say "Go U!" I immediately reply "NU!". Does Nebraska have a similar chant (I honestly don't know the answer)? If not, then there's a third reason for you.
Adam Rittenberg: Actually, Nebraska's fight song includes the line: "There is no place like Nebraska/Where they're all true blue/We'll all stick together in all kinds of weather/For dear old Nebraska U." So it applies in both cases.
Ken from Illinois: Northwestern always has and always will be NU. I have no problem with Nebraska being called NU as well, however, if their fans want it that way. As you have stated, context will give away which team you are referring to. Whatever you do, please do not start referring to Northwestern as NW or any other derivative. To borrow a phrase from our PSU brethren - We Are, NU.
Sam from Evanston, Ill.: I'm from Nebraska and go to Northwestern. Just call them both NU. If people can't figure out which NU it is from the article context, then they are probably just going to send you an angry letter anyways.
Adam Rittenberg: Right you are, Sam.
GENERAL BIG TEN FANS
Brian from Goshen, Ind.: Regarding your NU - NU question: I dislike both with equal angst (Iowa fan) but have got to say its kind of ironic. Northwestern fans don't want NW because its grammatically incorrect, but Nebraska fans want NU even though it is grammatically incorrect for their university. Go figure.
Aaron from Des Moines, Iowa: Adam, Being sandwiched in between both of them, I feel Iowa should be referred to as NU.
Brian from Atlanta writes: Adam,The real issue with NU is clarity in communication. Outside of the Chicago area and Northwestern fans/alumni, nobody thinks NU stands for Northwestern. It is much more commonly used to refer to Nebraska throughout Big Ten country and the nation.You only use UM to refer to Michigan despite Minnesota also using it, presumably because outside of the state UM much more commonly refers to Michigan. You never use UI. Using NU to refer to Northwestern would be confusing to most of your audience without context making it clear.My suggestion:Northwestern = NW (it was named for the Northwest Territories, after all)Nebraska = NU or NE (it is the official state abbreviation)After providing context, you can use NU to your heart's content. I realize Northwestern fans may get their feelings hurt, but clarity for your audience should be your top priority.
Adam Rittenberg: Some good points here, Brian, but my audience is primarily Big Ten fans who should be able to differentiate pretty quickly.