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Is Northern Illinois making a BCS bowl game something college football should celebrate?
By Melissa Isaacson
Geez, from the national bitterness directed at Northern Illinois, you would think the Huskies did something morally and ethically wrong in winning 12 straight games to finish their season at 12-1.
If you're going to be angry at the Huskies for becoming the first MAC team ever to play in a BCS bowl and the eighth non-automatic qualifier to do it in the last nine seasons, how about Louisville and Wisconsin? NIU is ranked No. 15 while the Cardinals and Badgers are even lower in the BCS standings, making it the first time since the BCS began in 1999 that three teams of their ilk earned a BCS bowl bid.
Or how about blaming Nebraska, whose 70-31 embarrassment at the hands of Wisconsin over the weekend dropped the Huskers behind Northern Illinois in the polls? Or Texas? Or UCLA?
Or how about just realizing that all of this buzz -- angry or not -- has created an unmatched level of interest for the Orange Bowl, which is precisely the idea. Oh yeah, that and creating that interest within the confines of the rules.
By Sarah Spain
The BCS is a joke and the controversy surrounding Northern Illinois' Orange Bowl berth is just the latest BCS-related result about which college football fans and analysts can complain. Every year a team cries foul when it gets left out; this year Oklahoma is that team.
Northern Illinois isn't a big-time program in a big-time conference, but the Huskies went out and did everything required to earn their spot against Florida State. Don't like the rule that limits a conference to just two BCS teams? Well, it's been around for a while, so don't blame the Huskies for a system riddled with problems. In fact, thank them. If they go out and get rolled by the Seminoles it'll prove, yet again, that the BCS rules -- the system as a whole, really -- need to change. Adding a four-team playoff is a good start, but the system is in need of a bigger overhaul.
College football shouldn't celebrate the hot mess that is the BCS, but it should celebrate a hard-working smaller program grabbing a share of the spotlight usually reserved for the same old schools. Celebrate a tremendous year from Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch and celebrate a chance to see David upset Goliath.
By Michelle Smith
What an interesting weekend at Northern Illinois. Win the Mid-American Conference championship, watch your coach depart for NC State and then earn the most unlikely BCS bowl bid of the bunch.
The Huskies have an Orange Bowl date with Florida State, the college football world is up in arms and the system worked as it was designed. Credit some underachieving conference champions for this result. Credit Northern Illinois playing good enough football to stay in the mix. But don't hate on the Huskies just because they got in.
There will be more interest in the Orange Bowl now and that's got to be good for the game. Did Northern Illinois deserve its spot? Could the Huskies pull off a big upset and silence their doubters? Or will they stumble and fall under the bright lights and prove they shouldn't have been there all along?
A new system is coming for college football, The last vestiges of the old one have produced an unexpected result and a lot of conversation. Why not ride the wave and see where it takes us?
By Mechelle Voepel
The nature of college football's Byzantine postseason almost always has some school(s) feeling shortchanged. (And that will be the case even when the four-team playoff system is implemented.)
This year, the "wronged party" is Oklahoma. I understand why the Sooners and their fans are upset about what they feel is an under-rewarded team. However, when you consider the obstacles a school such as Northern Illinois has to clear to get inclusion in a BCS game, how can the average college-football follower not feel happy for the Huskies?
Yes, it's a disappointment for Oklahoma, one of college football's royalty programs. But it's an unforgettable year of accomplishment for a program such as Northern Illinois, which won't experience many like this. It gives a lot of programs a boost to know that while the odds of them making a BCS game are very small, at least it really can happen.