3.12.12

TITLETOWN, ILLINOIS.

The print edition of the Northern Star attempted to claim the Titletown, U.S.A. moniker for DeKalb, in the wake of a far-too-intense Northern Illinois win in the Mid-American title game.
NIU looked in prime position in the third quarter to run away with the game, as it came out and tacked on another 10 points to Kent State’s three. Kent State’s kicker Freddy Cortez opened the scoring with a field goal early, but the Huskies scored 10 unanswered points behind a 1-yard touchdown run by Lynch on a drive that included a 44-yard breakaway run by Lynch. Sims added a 29-yard field goal with 2:38 left, to make the score 27-13, NIU.

The fourth quarter is when Kent State showed its will to fight and why it made it to this point of the season.

The Golden Flashes started their first drive of the quarter at their own 4-yard line with more than seven minutes left and put together a 96-yard drive to score, mostly behind a 60-yard pass play from quarterback Spencer Keith to Archer. Keith finished the drive with back-to-back 5-yard rushes, the second going across the goal-line for the score.

Kent State struck again a mere 15 seconds later after, forcing a fumble from Lynch on the Huskies’ first play after Keith scored. The fumble was caused and recovered by freshman linebacker Zack Hitchens, who proceeded to run untouched to the end zone to even the score at 27 with 4:38 remaining in the game.
Each team scored one more touchdown in regulation, and it took a Northern Illinois interception in the end zone in the second overtime (echoes of the Maryland game in DeKalb, years ago?) to secure the win.

The Gatorade hadn't dried on then-coach Dave Doeren's anorak ere he accepted a job at North Carolina State.
Reportedly, Doeren received a five-year contract, worth 1.8 million annually, from North Carolina State on Saturday. He said he believes his hard work over the years has finally paid off.

“All I can tell you is I didn’t take any shortcuts to get here,” Doeren said in a Sunday news conference. “I’ve been coaching 17 years at the college level. I’ve lined the fields and drove in the bus.
North Carolina State created the vacancy late last week, under circumstances that prompted Jane Shaw at Phi Beta Cons to make invidious comparisons between the sacking of coaches and the sacking, or not, of professors.
North Carolina State University just fired its football coach. Tom O’Brien had a winning record over six seasons (but not in the school’s conference, the ACC). He had taken the team to four bowl games, and his team had beaten its chief rival, UNC–Chapel Hill, five times. But the athletic director, Debbie Yow, wants more “aggressive” recruiting. As one fan said, O’Brien was “pretty good,” just not good enough.
I suppose academic departments on the make could vote not to grant tenure to scholars whose records were by any objective standard good, or above average, but unlikely to culminate in a Fields Medal or Nobel Prize.  That sort of positional competition has not yet caught on in higher education the way it has in football.  Yes, colleges rename themselves universities, and they add graduate programs, but I have yet to learn of a university putting money into an academic department in hopes of getting academic visibility analogous to the football visibility they're so keen to get on autumn Saturdays, or Tuesday night and the morning of the Friday after Thanksgiving, if they're in the Mid-American.

As far as I know, academic contracts do not yet have two-sided performance bonds.  There are some football programs paying more in buyouts to former coaches that were pretty good or less, than they are to current coaches.  The other side of the performance bond is the payout the coach makes to the university for accepting a better offer.  Both Mr Doeren and the previous coach have clauses in their contract obligating them to pay the university in the event of termination by the employee.  There's probably insufficient data to do a proper economic analysis of Mid-American hiring practices, but the strategy of hiring people looking to show their stuff with everyone understanding that there will be a lot of turnover among football coaches might not be suboptimal.

Sunday afternoon, the Chicago media were suggesting Northern Illinois would be getting a bid from the Orange Bowl (yes, the New Year's Day game that often determined the national champion in an era before somebody decided that a more formal tournament was better.)  Local fans enjoyed the moment.
Seth Hild couldn’t hold back the excitement.

Once the 13-year-old, donning a matching NIU hat and red windbreaker, saw Northern Illinois ranked as the No. 15 team in the BCS standings on the TV screen at Fatty’s Pub, he jumped out of his chair and raised both hands in the air.

“The excitement is overwhelming,” Seth, a student at Plano Middle School, said. “Because the last time we’ve been to an Orange Bowl ... I don’t know.”

Seth can’t recall NIU’s last BCS bowl game because it’s never happened. The Huskies, who became the first Mid-American Conference team to earn a berth in a BCS bowl game, will take on Florida State, the champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Jan. 1 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

Many people gathered Sunday night at Fatty’s to watch ESPN’s BCS Selection Show. The possibility of a BCS berth came into play in the past couple of weeks and the drama culminated with the official announcement Sunday night.

“I follow very, very closely,” said Jordan Casey, 23, a senior at NIU. “As soon as I heard last week it was a possibility, I followed very closely.”

Reports saying NIU was going to the Orange Bowl had circulated earlier in the afternoon, but a number of people wanted to make sure and watched the official show with their fellow Huskies fans.
At least a half-hour of the bowl selection show, which went on longer than Götterdammerung, was the talking heads decrying the injustice of Northern Illinois being selected for a January 1 game in preference to some of the more traditional representatives from stronger conferences.  You'd think our defensive coordinator was showering with little boys or the exit money from the departing coaches went into laddered mortgage-backed securities, the way Kirk Herbstreit was carrying on.  The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Big Twelve coaches engaged in voting worthy of Springfield politicians in order to boost Oklahoma's chances, and keep those upstarts from the Mid-American in their place.
Given the desperate money grab going on throughout the college football world, coaches undermining whatever integrity that Coaches’ Poll had left for their own personal and financial gain should come as no surprise. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and three other Big 12 coaches apparently voted the Sooners as high as No. 6 and NIU as low as No. 24 while trying to bolster the Oklahoma’s BCS ranking at NIU’s expense, which is the latest example of why coaches shouldn’t be allowed to voice their biases in the BCS standings.

According to USA Today, which publishes the poll, Stoops, Baylor’s Art Briles, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen all either voted the Sooners No. 6 and/or the Mid-American Conference champion Huskies No. 24 in Sunday’s final regular-season balloting. Stoops, who had the most to gain from his underachieving Sooners landing a BCS Bowl game, did both.

Only one other voter — Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio — had Oklahoma higher than eighth and the only other non-Big 12 coach to rank the Huskies 24th or lower was Michigan’s Brady Hoke, according to the newspaper.

The six voters from the Mid-American Conference, of which NIU is a member, showed more forthrightness, ranking the Huskies no higher than 14th and no lower than 21st while ranking Oklahoma either 10th or 11th.
One of the ESPN talkers attempted to smooth things over by suggesting that the Boise State rule that allows a team ranked sixteenth or better and ahead of an automatic qualifier team from one of the major conferences is what got Northern Illinois in: thus you'd get the same whinging had Kent State prevailed in Detroit.  Kent will play Arkansas State in the Mardi Gras kickoff game in Mobile.  This game featured Northern Illinois and Arkansas State last year.

With Wisconsin repeating as Big Ten champions (and in playing more like a 12-0 team than a 7-5 team in that dismantling of Nebraska helping boost the Northern Illinois power ranking) Madison could challenge Green Bay for Titletown rights in Wisconsin (yes, sacrilege, take away my Sprecher!)  Titletown, Illinois, however, is also hoisting the brooms for a clean sweep in the Quibbler Invitational.
The NIU Nargles Quidditch team played in a tournament with teams from four other schools: Augustana College’s Odin’s Ravens, Southeastern Iowa College’s Horntails, Northwestern University’s Kneazles and Elmhurst College’s Marauders. There also was a pick-up team called the Merc team.

The Nargles defeated the Merc Team in the final match, 40-0.
We've noted the presence of Quidditch, its possible social significance, and the absence of dreaming spires on its playing field.  The team will be receiving support from the university next year (is that where the money from the departing-coach payments goes?)
The NIU Nargles won the first match against the Southeastern Iowa Horntails, 80-10. They also won the second game against the Augustana Odin’s Ravens, 90-10.

The Nargles were rewarded with a golden pair of shoes as the first place trophy.

[Club president Micah] Haji-Sheikh said all the equipment they have comes from money they raised by themselves.

The NIU Nargles are receiving financial help from the university next year. As for now, they have to stick to duct-taped hula hoop stands as goals.
Making do is what excellent students do.


Northern Illinois University photograph from the Go Daddy Bowl that opened the year.

There's truth to the claim, on the quidditch grounds and in the classroom.
The tens of thousands of dollars it costs to get a degree at Northern Illinois University is a better investment compared to the costs of other state colleges and similar institutions, according to a recent report.

PayScale, an organization that analyzes salary and career data released a report that shows the return on investment for students who earn a bachelor’s degree at NIU is better than almost all of the state’s 12 public, four-year universities, ranking behind only University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois at Chicago.
The work our Career Placement and Advising offices do with employers and with students helps. The league tables for job placement, however, differ from those in football.
NIU also fared well compared with other Mid-American Conference schools, ranking behind only Buffalo, University of Massachusetts and the University of Miami-Ohio.
Miami have a long history as cradle of coaches. Buffalo and Massachusetts are relatively new to Mid-American football, and Buffalo has a long, strong academic tradition. I wonder if the supplies of dry-erase markers are depleted in Buffalo classrooms.

Let's count our blessings all the same.

No comments: