Northern Illinois' Anthony Wells celebrates after the Huskies defeated… (Dave Reginek / Getty Images )
Northern Illinois will become the first team from the Mid-American Conference to play in a BCS bowl when it faces Florida State in the Orange Bowl next month. Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether the Huskies getting a BCS bowl berth is a strength or weakness of the system. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
It's both a strength and a weakness of the BCS system and a joke that so many people are making such a big deal about this. Does Northern Illinois belong? Why not? Georgia Tech would have been in the Orange Bowl with a 7-6 record had it won the ACC and still got a bowl bid at 6-7. Now that's a systemic failure. Louisiana Tech not getting a bowl bid at 9-3 is a breakdown.
Northern Illinois got in because more than 200 voters and six computers put them in the top 16. In 2007, Louisiana State, with two losses, jumped five spots on the final weekend and got to the national title game. The system is what the system is. Allowing "non-AQ" schools certain access points years ago also kept the BCS from being sued or dismantled by Congress. Also, remember, NIU finished ahead of two AQ champions, Louisville and Wisconsin, which still got major bids with a combined seven losses.
The BCS bullies need to leave NIU alone and I'm kind of hoping the Huskies beat Florida State just to shut everyone up.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
I’ll call it a strength, but I’m admittedly biased. Did I want Kent State to show up in the Orange Bowl? Nope. But Chicago is NIU territory, and I’m craving to see Jordan Lynch take on a perennially overhyped and potentially under-motivated Florida State team.
The BCS will get blown up soon enough, but its biggest flaw is the rule that limits conferences to two teams. If ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit is fired up about Northern Illinois, what about Louisville? The Cardinals are ranked six spots lower than the Huskies in the BCS standings, and they have two losses, not one. And they didn’t beat (or even play) a ranked team all year.
At least NIU is a little guy, and an intriguing one at that. Louisville is nothing more than good team that has a quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) with a great name.
Iliana Limón Romero, Orlando Sentinel
Northern Illinois scoring a BCS bowl bid is one of the great things about our current postseason format.
Kirk Herbstreit railed against the Huskies during ESPN’s selection show, but Northern Illinois wasn’t just handed its BCS bowl invitation. The 12-1 team earned it. The Huskies don’t boast a marquee strength of schedule, but that just meant there was less room for error for the team all year long. Northern Illinois beat a Top 25 team in overtime to earn a conference title and bowl bid.
If you want to talk about teams that didn’t necessarily earn their spots, then take a closer look at Wisconsin. The Badgers posted a 4-4 record in the Big Ten, stumbling into the conference championship game because Penn State and Ohio State were serving postseason bans. Wisconsin beat up Nebraska in the title game and coasted to the Rose Bowl despite posting an 8-5 record.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
I have no idea whether Northern Illinois playing in the Orange Bowl is a strength or weakness of the BCS system, but I’m glad to see a Mid-American Conference school in a BCS bowl. Seven MAC schools are going to bowl games and it’s not a coincidence. Teams in the conference have beaten Penn State, Rutgers, Iowa and others in so-called power conferences.
So ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit calls Northern Illinois’ inclusion “a joke.” Well if you want Oklahoma in a BCS bowl, Kirk, why don’t you tell the Sooners to play a little defense? How about that nice trifecta near the end of the season when they gave up 34 points to Baylor, 49 to West Virginia and 48 to Oklahoma State? They won all three -- barely -- and none of those three are in the Top 25.
The whole BCS system is a joke; that’s why it’s getting reformed. But to pick on Northern Illinois is neither fair nor warranted. BTW, Kirk, who does your alma mater, Ohio State, play in its bowl game? Oh, that’s right, the Buckeyes don’t get to go because of NCAA sanctions.
Guess you’ll just have to watch Northern Illinois or any of the six other MAC teams playing.
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