Oklahoma football: More on Northern Illinois
Outrage continues to pour in on Northern Illinois’ inclusion in the BCS, with an Orange Bowl berth against Florida State. Here’s really how I feel about it. Why is this so much worse than the Sugar Bowl last season?
Oh, don’t remember that game? That’s because it stunk. Michigan vs. Virginia Tech. An mediocre matchup — 11-2 Virginia Tech, ranked 11th, against 10-2 Michigan, ranked 13th. Turns out it was a close game, won 23-20 in overtime by Michigan. But a thoroughly forgettable matchup.
You don’t find Florida State-Northern Illinois more compelling than that?
Any way, I heard from a Northern Illinois alum today, a guy who actually works for our company, Kevin Petrie. I’ve never met Kevin, but he sounds like a solid guy. I told him about my trip to DeKalb, Ill., in 1994 for the OSU-Northern Illinois game, a season opener on Thursday night. The Cowboys won 31-14. That was Pat Jones’ final season at OSU, the beginning of a sixth straight losing season. But that would be Northern Illinois’ fourth straight losing season; the Huskies went 4-7 under Charlie Sadler, the former OU defensive coordinator under Gary Gibbs, and Sadler lost his job the next year after five straight losing seasons.
Which sort of went along with what Kevin Petrie wrote. Here’s his email.
“Full disclosure: Fellow worker (at Oklahoman Direct), alum of NIU, follower of OSU and OU, resident of Oklahoma for four years.
“Very fair article yesterday on NIU. (My blog yesterday, which you can read here.) Even more important:
* “NIU was the laughingstock of Division I football 15 years ago, and worse when I went there 30 years ago;
* “They committed to change;
* “To get better, they faced the tough road opponents: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin – and won some. Alabama (2003), Iowa State, Purdue, Minnesota. Went for two and lost at Northwestern, when they could have taken the tie.
“ Rarely did they get reciprocity – their job was to be cannon fodder for the bigs. Generally the only place they can get a ‘home’ game is Soldier Field (Kansas was a rare exception this year). Maryland, as a ranked team, made the mistake of travelling to Dekalb in 2003 for an ESPN game, and got beat on ESPN. The rest of college football took notice. This year, NIU took the victory formation with goal to go at the KU 4-yard line with a minute on the clock. Class.
“Bottom line: They’ve done everything the critics ask of them, and more. They’re striving for excellence. They’ve created talent that makes it in the NFL: Michael Turner, Doug Free, Justin McCareins, Ryan Diem, Larry English, etc.
“Most players are discards that couldn’t get recruited.
“Don’t be shocked if they do more than show up in Miami – they are well aware of how looked down upon they are by the Herbstreits of football.”
So again, I don’t get the umbrage. So OU plays A&M in the Cotton Bowl instead of Florida in the Sugar. The Sooners would be better off playing Florida, just because the Gators aren’t all that a familiar foe, while the Sooners have been A&M every November for 15 years. And while the Sugar has more status than the Cotton, only marginally so. The money difference is slight, since a conference doesn’t get a financial bonanza for a second BCS team. And Dallas is far better for OU fans than New Orleans. High rollers and perverts will prefer New Orleans. The rest of us — the vast majority — will take Big D every time.
So let’s all cut Northern Illinois some slack. The Huskies are giving us an Orange Bowl with interest. Some Davey and Goliath stuff. I’ll take that over Michigan-Virginia Tech every year.
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