Don't Blame Northern Illinois, Blame the BCS System
It’s not your fault, Northern Illinois. In fact, embrace the hate you will hear for the next month after crashing the BCS party.
“You don’t belong.”
“You’ll get killed.”
“You can’t hang with the big boys.”
This is what will be written about the Northern Illinois Huskies as they prepare to take on the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl after coming in at No. 15 in the BCS standings. The MAC champions will not be expected to put up much of a fight—early lines have them pegged as nearly a two-touchdown underdog—and they could very well get blown out in this game.
Their head coach, Dave Doeren, is off to NC State, and offensive coordinator Rod Carey will command the ship in the bowl game and beyond. Carey was introduced on Sunday, which capped off a rather eventful day in the DeKalb headquarters.
Florida State is a superior team with superior players all over the field. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch could be the X-factor, however, and the rest of the country is about to become very familiar with one of the most talented (and underappreciated) players in the country.
Despite his influence, Northern Illinois could get beat badly. We just don’t know—although Florida State has been known to make things more interesting than it should be—and many are already figuring this to be one of the least watched BCS games of the year.
ESPN's college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit made his thoughts on this very clear on Sunday night:
And you know who you should blame for that? Certainly not Northern Illinois; it's just doing its job, and doing a damn good job of it too. If you’ve got a problem with the Huskies getting into the BCS, blame the BCS.
The stipulations haven’t changed: Get to the No. 12 spot in the BCS standings, or get to No. 16 and finish ahead of a team that is a champion of an at-large conference. We’ve seen these “BCS busters” play their way into these games before. Lookin’ in your direction, Boise State.
Northern Illinois got in by beating every team on its schedule after its opening loss to Iowa—which is still hard to comprehend—and the voters and the formula took over the rest. There is no beef here, and we haven’t found a loophole. This was all very possible, and Nebraska's no-show in the Big Ten Championship Game made this a reality.
If you’ve got a problem with it, punch your iPad. Well, don’t punch your iPad, but take your frustrations out on a system that has heard plenty of it before. Or you could blame the conferences that allowed this to happen.
Northern Illinois didn’t just magically play its way into the Top 16; it had plenty of help. The ineptitude of the Big Ten and Big East helped clear this path and make this all possible. Looking for someone else to blame besides a computer?
Go ahead and start here, and leave Northern Illinois out of this.
Also, is Wisconsin more deserving of a spot in the BCS than Northern? Is Louisville? We could argue this until we’re blue in the face—and we probably will because we have the time—but this is not a one-team problem.
It certainly felt like it, though.
Even as ESPN announced that Northern Illinois would be BCS bound, the network spent the next few minutes crushing the school for getting an invite. The Huskies were watching, of course, and while they celebrated being included, they also weren’t happy with the things that were being said.
Oh, I love this. I'd be tossing more than oranges:
The #NIU players went crazy when hearing ESPN guys rip them. Jordan Lynch even threw an orange at the TV.— HuskieWire (@HuskieWire) December 3, 2012
Get used to it, Huskies. Unfortunately, this will be the narrative until you step on the field. Many have grown tired of writing about the BCS, and you’re a much easier target.
Blaming the Northern Illinois Huskies for getting into your “prestigious” lineup of bowl games, however, is like blaming your car’s faulty CD player (people still have these, yes?) for that five-car pileup you just caused.
They aren’t the problem; they highlight the problem. One of many, actually.
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