Northern Illinois will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl. (Carlos Osorio / Associated…)
All together now:
Come on you Huskies,
Fight you Huskies
And win for NIU
Or, as fellow Northern Illinois University alumnus Ned Colletti put it Monday morning, "Long overdue."
The Huskies didn't need to change uniform numbers to pull a fast one on the opposition, didn't deflate footballs, or inspire their players by belittling one of the school's sports information directors, as friend Frank Pace pointed out.
But here we are in a BCS game, and where are USC and UCLA?
They couldn't even find a team with a winning record to play USC, and UCLA gagged on the chance to go to the Rose Bowl.
Yet I hear from the yahoos who support these losers all the time like they have something to brag about, but "Hail to thee our Alma Mater, ever shall we praise your name," NIU.
We're in the Orange Bowl and ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit is crying on the BCS selection show like he's never known such injustice.
"To put Northern Illinois in the BCS is an absolute joke," Herbstreit said.
So I wonder what the college football expert calls his preseason prediction of Florida State beating USC for the BCS title?
It's a "sad state of college football," Herbstreit continued, apparently big on things that are sad.
Last week Herbstreit called Page 2 pathetic for trying to push Jim Mora and UCLA to go all out and reach the lofty football standards that I know as a Huskies fan.
Now Herbstreit is apoplectic because the BCS has NIU playing against Florida State.
Since when is it un-American not to champion the underdog? It's often the highlight of March Madness.
Huskies, come on you Huskies
And make a score or two
Huskies, you're Northern Huskies
How quickly Herbstreit forgets who won the GoDaddy.com Bowl last year.
Wait until our QB Jordan Lynch wins the Heisman, Herbie!
NIU lost the opener by a point and then won 12 straight. Had the Huskies won the opener everyone would be clamoring for a Notre Dame-NIU title game.
In fact NIU is offering a free ticket to each student going to the Orange Bowl, knowing how disappointed they must be to get Florida State as an opponent.
"I'm so proud of Northern," says Colletti, who remembers rougher times as a '76 Black & Red grad. "Why is everyone outraged? All Northern did was play exciting football."
Colletti, who is No. 52 on a list of notable alumni, could not think of anyone more notable until asking, "Wasn't Julia Roberts from there?"
She went to Georgia State, but you can see where a young man's mind might go when surrounded by nothing but corn in DeKalb where NIU is located.
Phil Kadner, class of '74, is the second most famous journalist from NIU. He couldn't remember any notable alumni but mentioned Cindy Crawford. Over and over again.
"She went to DeKalb high, so that counts in NIU's favor,'' says Kadner, who writes a muckraking column for the Southtown Something Or Other outside Chicago.
Now I spent four years at NIU without graduating, but I lived a block away from Cindy's high school, so we were close.
I looked up the definition of "alumnus," and it's not important, boys and girls, if you graduate. You're still an alumnus if you spent any time in school, and so they have me listed under "football" among their notable alumni.
I guess flag football was bigger at NIU than I thought.
Now while I had Kadner, I was curious what folks back there think about UCLA and USC.
"I've spent 30 years writing about politics in one of the most corrupt places in the country and it's not nearly as bad as my experiences with college athletics," he says, and so I had to stop him and tell him I wasn't talking just about USC, but UCLA as well.
"Why would anyone care about schools like that when we have a football powerhouse going to the Orange Bowl?" Kadner says.
The Orange Bowl, of course, is big on entertainment every year. Why not have NIU alumnus Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, broadcast the game like Homer might?
Or have NIU grad Wood Harris, the hard-hitting linebacker known as Big Ju in "Remember The Titans," lead our underdogs onto the field dancing as the Titans did.
Let's really make it an absolute joke and a sad state of football for the serious fogies who think bowl games are more sacred than bonus fun.
Maybe Cindy & Julia might agree to come as cheerleaders; then tell me folks won't be happy to see NIU in the Orange Bowl.