Northern Illinois’ football team wasn’t a popular Bowl Championship Series pick to some people, including ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit.
Herbstreit ripped into the Huskies during Sunday night’s BCS bowl selection show, calling the pick “a sad state for college football.” NIU fans and players reacted. Quarterback Jordan Lynch lobbed an orange at Herbstreit on the projector screen in NIU’s Yordon Center, where the team was gathered to celebrate their BCS bid and watch the show.
The Marathon gas station in DeKalb wrote “Suck our oranges ESPN Go Huskies!” on its sign.
Herbstreit wasn’t alone in complaining about the Huskies’ selection. But he was wrong.
The Huskies did everything they needed to do to earn a BCS selection. After losing by 1 to Iowa at Soldier Field in Lynch’s first start and the Huskies’ first game of this season, they won 12 straight games, including Friday night’s MAC Championship game against BCS No. 25 Kent State.
The Huskies finished in the top 16 in the final BCS poll (No. 15 to be exact). And they were ranked ahead of two BCS conference champions: Louisville (Big East) and Wisconsin (Big Ten).
The rules were set up to avoid antitrust litigation, essentially so they cannot unfairly favor teams just because they are in a larger conference. The rule did exactly what it was intended to do.
Comparing Northern Illinois to Oklahoma or Georgia and saying the outcome was unfair is simply off base.
Louisville, which has lost two of its last three games to unranked teams in a decimated Big East Conference, should be subject to the same scrutiny. The Cardinals did not play a team in the final BCS top 25 all season. Northern Illinois beat one this past Friday.
Wisconsin lost five games and finished in third place in its division of the Big Ten. The Badgers are not ranked. Yet they will be playing in a BCS Bowl as well.
Northern Illinois is a great story, one that the nation’s college football fans could and should embrace. The Huskies don’t have a lot of the luxuries of the BCS conference schools. The fact their coach, Dave Doeren, left to reportedly more than quadruple his salary is proof of that.
That just makes it all the more amazing how far the Huskies have come. The system was not set up to allow five Southeastern Conference schools play in BCS bowls. Only two are allowed in each season.
It also was not set up for Big 12 coaches to game the system, which they reportedly did while voting NIU lower and Oklahoma higher than any other coaches in the country in the coaches poll.
The system was set up to reward the best teams, who had the best seasons, and have them play each other at the end of the season. That is what occurred. Embrace it.