NIU Orange Bowl 2013: Huskies in BCS Promotes Parity in College Football
The fact that Northern Illinois will be in a BCS bowl has caused much debate in the college football world. However, the team's appearance will be a good thing for the sport.
By winning the Mid-American Conference Championship Game over Kent State, the Huskies climbed up the rankings to the No. 15 spot in the BCS standings. This automatically earned the team a spot in a prestigious BCS game.
Any non-AQ team that wins its conference, finishes in the Top 16 in the BCS and finishes above the champion of one of the BCS conferences (in this case Louisville), gets a bid.
The rule allows Northern Illinois to be the first non-BCS school to reach this level without an undefeated season.
This disturbs traditional college football fans that feel slighted that teams like Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma did not make the cut. Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN had one of the bigger rants on Sunday night (via SportsCenter's Twitter account):
"You're going to leave Oklahoma out (of BCS game) for Northern Illinois?Are you kidding me?!It's an absolute joke!" - @kirkherbstreit— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 3, 2012
However, it is important to see the bigger picture.
While most would not argue on behalf of the Huskies in a head-to-head matchup with any top SEC team, putting them in the BCS is a positive.
College football is one of the most top-heavy sports in American culture. The entire regular season is focused on a select few teams from only a couple of areas in the country.
Most people are focused on selecting the national champion, and rightfully so, but there are also a number of great stories from around the country that are almost ignored.
One such story is Northern Illinois, a team that has won 12 games in a row behind one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. Jordan Lynch currently leads the nation with 1,771 rushing yards. That is not a list for only quarterbacks, but the entire FBS.
If not for a one-point loss to Iowa (before injuries started to tear apart the Hawkeyes) in the opening game of the season, the Huskies would be undefeated.
These players have put together quite a season and deserve to be in the spotlight.
Fans have already seen plenty of the big boys this year; they do not need another big game to prove themselves.
This also gives the Huskies a chance to win some recruiting battles and possibly return to this point in the future. It helps the sport become deeper than just a few top teams.
In addition, the restriction on how many teams each conference can send to the BCS creates a better chance to truly see who is best in college football.
With only 12 games for teams to prove themselves, including only four non-conference games, it is difficult to truly get a read on the top teams. The SEC passes the "eye test," meaning the teams look good, but there is no way of knowing who would win until the teams play.
Does Nothern Illinois deserve to play in the BCS?
Last year when Alabama played LSU in a national championship rematch, it did not prove who was the best in the nation. All it proved was that the Crimson Tide were narrowly better than the rest of the SEC.
Alabama might have destroyed any other team on the football field, but other teams deserved a chance.
If the SEC was allowed more teams in the BCS, the top bowl games would just be filled with the same programs every year. This would not only create staleness in the sport, but it would also prevent other teams from ever getting a chance to show what they can do.
College basketball has a 68-team tournament to decide its champion at the end of the year. However, it is not necessarily the top 68 teams that enter, because each conference sends its winner to the tournament.
This gives teams a chance to not only be seen, but also to prove their merit. Teams like Lehigh and Norfolk State took that opportunity last year and defeated squads that were considered much better.
There can never be a tournament like this in college football, but the idea to include a wide range of schools on the biggest stage is something to be admired.
Finally, people are discounting the excitement that could come from the actual game that Northern Illinois plays.
The Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma will go down as one of the greatest college football games ever to be played, but it never would have happened if it was up to many of the poll voters.
With Lynch at the helm, anything can happen in this showdown between a Top 10 offense and a Top 10 defense on Florida State.
The Orange Bowl should be truly enjoyable, despite the fact that there is no SEC team involved.
Hopefully, it leads to more talented teams coming from around the country and crashing the BCS party.
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