Northern Illinois's future BCS bowl game appearance raises eyebrows

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit criticizes selection

Mat Mikesell's opinions does not necessarily reflect the view's of The Daily or the Daily News.  

History was made Sunday night when Northern Illinois earned a berth in the Orange Bowl. 

And while the Mid-American Conference celebrated sending its first team ever to a BCS bowl game, ESPN’s college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit took offense to the Huskies’ selection. 

On ESPN’s BCS selection show Sunday evening, Herbstreit was clearly furious that the MAC champions will play in the Orange Bowl against Florida State. He even went as far to call the Huskies’ BCS berth “a sad state for college football.”

Let me see if I’m understanding him correctly. When a team from a non-automatic qualifier conference is voted on by the coaches and the media makes it into a BCS bowl game, that’s a sad state for college football?

What about when we learned a former assistant coach at Penn State was sexually abusing young boys? What about when it was revealed that several players of the North Carolina football team cheated their way through school by taking courses that didn’t exist? 

Even then, what about when former Ohio State coach — Herbstreit’s alma mater — got caught lying to the NCAA about his players receiving impermissible benefits? 

Those represent sad states for college football. College football is not degraded because Herbstreit feels Northern Illinois was unworthy for a BCS bowl game. 

Sure, Northern Illinois lost to Iowa in the first game of the season by a single point. But isn’t the argument that losing early in the season doesn’t always hurt a team’s chances for getting to a BCS game?

Herbstreit argued that to put Northern Illinois in a BCS game over Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida is a joke. 

But what about an 8-5 Wisconsin team that will play in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day? Yes, the Badgers won the Big Ten, but only because Penn State and Ohio State were ineligible to play in the conference’s championship game. 

So, is a team that lost four times in conference play more deserving than a team that went unbeaten in its conference?

I don’t think so.

Instead of bashing the MAC and calling Northern Illinois’ inclusion into a BCS bowl “a sad state for college football,” Herbstreit should realize that college football is getting stronger. The gap between the BCS schools and the mid-majors is closing, which means schools from the MAC have better chances at beating BCS teams. Ball State beat two this season. 

The real joke is the fact that Herbstreit doesn’t see the direction college football is going. 


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