16.10.07

HOW QUICKLY FORTUNE TURNS.Four years ago, the Northern Illinois football team rated some recognition in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. Now it's the Bottom Ten.
"Remember": The Huskies went to bowl games in 2004 and 2006. After Saturday's loss to Temple, that must feel like a long time ago in DeKalb.
That was last week's rankings. The editorial board at the Northern Star apparently has short memories.
With the Huskies settling comfortably into the MAC cellar with a 1-6 record following Saturday’s loss to Western Michigan, it seems hard to fathom that NIU played in a bowl game against a nationally respected Texas Christian team just 10 months ago. Thankfully for the Huskies, in this day and age of “everybody-gets-a-trophy” sports philosophy, they may still get an invite to “Bill’s Barber Shop Bowl.”
There appears to be some illogic, however, when the editors lay out their case.

Of the six games NIU has lost this season, the Huskies led at halftime in three of them – not to mention the 31-14 third quarter advantage the Huskies squandered in the home opener against SIU, a team that literally isn’t even in NIU’s league. And in their only win of the season, a 42-35 “triumph” over perpetual laughing stock Idaho, the Huskies still nearly managed to blow a three-touchdown lead.

On top of that, coaches are jumping ship from NIU like there’s an iceberg on the horizon. Repeated instances of young coaches leaving Novak’s staff for supposedly greener pastures seem to suggest that they knew tomorrow was not looking up for NIU. And now that they’re gone, there is no tomorrow.

That final sentence illustrates the reality of life in the mid-majors. Coaches who demonstrate some sort of potential for building programs in power conferences get hired away. Tenure does not lock promising professors into positions either. The illness the editors are diagnosing might be mental (we're never going to be Illinois so why bother?) or fiscal (we do on the cheap what any highly regarded university throws many more resources at.) People who get better offers (whether the dimension is money or working conditions or visibility) take them.

No comments: