Northern Illinois received Orange squeeze from Big 12 coaches
BY NEIL HAYES Twitter: @byNHayes December 3, 2012 12:00PM
The Northern Illinois team poses for photographers after defeating Kent State 44-37 in double overtime in the the Mid-American Conference championship in an NCAA college football game at Ford Field, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Do you think NIU is deserving of a BCS bid to the Orange Bowl?
Updated: December 3, 2012 5:46PM
If college football analysts want to express outrage about Northern Illinois landing a BCS bowl it should be because of what a cabal of Big 12 coaches attempted to keep the Huskies out of the Orange Bowl.
College football has become a bottomless ATM machine. Money dominates virtually every decision made in the sport, and if you don’t believe that, you probably believe Maryland and Rutgers were added to the Big Ten Conference for academic reasons.
Given the desperate money grab going on throughout the college football world, coaches undermining whatever integrity that Coaches’ Poll had left for their own personal and financial gain should come as no surprise. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and three other Big 12 coaches apparently voted the Sooners as high as No. 6 and NIU as low as No. 24 while trying to bolster the Oklahoma’s BCS ranking at NIU’s expense, which is the latest example of why coaches shouldn’t be allowed to voice their biases in the BCS standings.
According to USA Today, which publishes the poll, Stoops, Baylor’s Art Briles, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen all either voted the Sooners No. 6 and/or the Mid-American Conference champion Huskies No. 24 in Sunday’s final regular-season balloting. Stoops, who had the most to gain from his underachieving Sooners landing a BCS Bowl game, did both.
Only one other voter — Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio — had Oklahoma higher than eighth and the only other non-Big 12 coach to rank the Huskies 24th or lower was Michigan’s Brady Hoke, according to the newspaper.
The six voters from the Mid-American Conference, of which NIU is a member, showed more forthrightness, ranking the Huskies no higher than 14th and no lower than 21st while ranking Oklahoma either 10th or 11th.
When those coaches land big-time jobs, like NIU’s Dan Doeren did at NC State, they may have to learn how to manipulate the rankings to their benefit.
Keep in mind, Oklahoma is a big reason why NIU will go to a major bowl for the first time in school and MAC history. It was Boise State’s landscape-changing upset of the Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl that made college officials tweak rules to give mid-majors a better chance of landing in a major bowl.
The bottom line is, there are too many conflicts of interest — financial and otherwise — to allow coaches to have a serious vote, especially when there are often clauses in their contracts involving personal financial gain for qualifying for a major bowl. Then there’s the simple fact that college football coaches are too consumed with their own teams during the season to honestly evaluate other teams they may have never seen.
“I don’t vote for a reason,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said earlier this season. “I don’t watch all the games. I think it’s great that the coaches get a vote but, again, I don’t have the time to do that, and that’s why I chose not too.”
Fitzgerald was given the opportunity to vote in the Coaches’ Poll but declined in part and has refused to let one of his staffers do it, which is a popular practice among college coaches. He doesn’t have time to study potential Top 25 teams and didn’t want to guess.
Finally, a little integrity.
“I’ve got enough on my plate being a father of three that are under 10, trying to be a good husband and lead a football program let alone trying to study up on what’s going on all over the country,” he said. “I wish I had the time to do that.”