Tag:Northern Illinois
Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:58 pm
 

NIU gains, loses new coordinator in 24 hours

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rutgers assistant P.J. Fleck appeared to have had the softest of landings after Greg Schiano took the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coaching job--only to spurn his alma mater after less than 24 hours for what he may feel is an even softer landing.

A former star receiver for Northern Illinois, Fleck was announced as NIU's offensive coordinator Thursday after former OC Matt Canada took the same job with Wisconsin. The job would have been his first as a coordinator, and would have put him in charge one of the nation's most productive offenses in a program and city with which Fleck is highly familiar. 

But Fleck was nonetheless in the post for less than a day, as according to the Chicago Tribune, he called NIU head coach Dave Doeren Friday morning to tell him he was resigning the position. A source told the Tribune that Fleck's reasoning in the call with Doeren was that he "wasn’t comfortable with the coordinator’s role." 

But while we don't doubt that discomfort may have played a role, Fleck's reasoning may have also been influenced by the presence of a second job opportunity, one alongside his old boss in the NFL. According to reports, Fleck will instead sign on as the new Tampa Bay wide receivers coach, the same position he enjoyed in Piscataway with the Scarlet Knights. Fleck worked with Schiano for the past two seasons.

Despite putting his program back at square one, Doeren (pictured) was philosophical about Fleck's decision, at least in print.

“Everything happens for a reason and the result of this will make NIU Football even better,” he said.

We don't blame Doeren for taking that approach. But finding a candidate with Fleck's resume who's as likely to say yes at this late date will be a challenge for a program like NIU, no doubt making this kind of decision from one of their own doubly hard to take. 

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:37 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 12:20 pm
 

Minnesota AD Joel Maturi retiring

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi will retire on Thursday, the school announced. The school has a press conference scheduled for 11am to make the announcement. 

Maturi's contract was expiring and the school did not want to renew it.

Maturi sent an email to Minnesota's student-athletes, coaches and staff on Thursday morning to inform them of his retirement.

“It is with mixed emotions that I share with you that ... I will announce my retirement as the director of athletics at the University of Minnesota effective June 30th,” Maturi said in the email. “There is sadness because I have enjoyed every day of this 10-year journey. There is excitement because President [Eric] Kaler has asked me to remain next year as a special assistant to the president.” 

Maturi became Minnesota's athletic director in 2002, and was the first athletic director in school history to run an athletic department that had united both men's and women's programs. He also oversaw the fundraising and construction of the football team's TCF Bank Stadium. Still, in spite of his accomplishments at the school, it was the school's lack of success on the football field that may have ultimately led to his retirement.

Maturi hired Tim Brewster in 2007 after firing Glen Mason even though Brewster had never been a head coach or even a coordinator above the high school level. Minnesota went 15-30 under Brewster, who was fired after a 1-6 start in 2010 and received a buyout from the school. After Brewster's firing, a group of former Minnesota football players rallied against allowing Maturi to lead the next coaching search.

Minnesota then hired Jerry Kill from Northern Illinois with the help of former president of the alumni association, Dave Mona.

Maturi's contract runs through June 30th, and a search for his replacement will begin soon, as president Eric Kaler plans to have a replacement in place for July 1st.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:05 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 3:06 pm
 

PODCAST: 2011 College Football Season Wrapup

Posted by Adam Jacobi

J. Darin Darst and Adam Aizer give some final thoughts on the BCS Championship Game and the 2011 season as a whole. The SEC dominated again, USC is back and conference expansion is annoying. The guys also look at some recent coaching news. Will Brent Venables be a good hire for Clemson? Did Wisconsin take a risk by hiring Matt Canada as offensive coordinator? 

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:30 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Wisconsin's new OC: Northern Ill. OC Matt Canada

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Wisconsin continues to shore up its coaching losses from the departure of Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh and various other hirings, and on Tuesday the Badgers announced that Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Matt Canada had agreed to become Wisconsin's offensive coordinator.

"Matt has a terrific history as an offensive coordinator and has excelled at developing quarterbacks throughout his career," Bielema said in a statement. "I know he is very excited about running a pro-style offense and handling a game the way we typically have at Wisconsin. I think this is a great hire for us and I can't wait for him to get to work with our coaches and players." 

Canada was only one year into his second stint as NIU's offensive coordinator; he had been rising through the ranks at Indiana from 2004-2010, starting as quarterbacks coach and finishing as offensive coordinator, before Kevin Wilson came to Bloomington and cleaned house. Canada coached Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell at quarterback for the Hoosiers, and both were highly productive in their times under center: Lewis was a first-team All-Big Ten QB before his career derailed, and Chappell holds Indiana single-season records in every major passing category.

Fortunately for Northern Illinois, Canada was able to put together a dynamite offense in his first year back, as the Huskies went 11-3, won the MAC Championship, won the GoDaddy.com Bowl 38-20 over Arkansas State, and scored over 42 points per game in the process. NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named the MAC offensive MVP in 2011, and his numbers backed it up: he threw for 2,942 yards, 26 TDs, and only five interceptions on 219-348 passing (good enough for the 15th-best passing efficiency in the nation), and he rushed for 1,382 yards and 11 TDs on 185 carries (leading all FBS quarterbacks) to back it up.

That kind of overall quarterback production doesn't come out of a pro-style offense, of course (but don't start hyperventilating just yet, Badger fans). Check out this video of the different ways Harnish used his quarterback, and how many different formations NIU used in the process. There's even a John Moxon Oop-De-Oop formation in there.



That's some serious offensive creativity, and completely outside the bounds of how Wisconsin has made hay for the last 15+ years as a rushing powerhouse. But fear not: as Bielema mentioned in his statement, Wisconsin will stay with a pro-style offense. Bielema's no fool. Really, he's not.

It'll be interesting to see, then, what details of Canada's style of offense survives the assimilation into the Bucky Borg. Surely Bielema wouldn't have hired an offensive coordinator he's coached against in eight games in one way or another (twice when Canada was at NIU, six times with him at Indiana) if he wasn't interested in that coach's offensive acumen in some significant respect. Until we find out what that entails, though, opposing defensive coordinators may feel free to peruse the offensive performances of Canada offenses, and if the color starts draining from the DCs' faces in the process, well, that's to be expected.

For more up-to-the-minute Badger news, subscribe to CBSSports.com's Wisconsin RapidReports by Tammy Madsen.

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:29 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:22 pm
 

1-to-35: Ranking the 2011 bowl games



Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Each December, there's plenty of rankings out there as to how good each bowl should be. But if that's the "before," what about the "after"? Here's the Eye on CFB's (highly subjective) ranking of all 35 bowls from the 2011-2012 college football postseason, best game to worst.

1. Rose. Unlike certain other bowls we could name (who happen to rhyme with "Schmalamo"), the Rose's outburst of offense came despite the presence of legitimate championship-level defenses--making the punch and counter-punch between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side and LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other like haymakers in a heavyweight prizefight. Add in college football's greatest venue, a down-to-the-wire ending, and even the aesthetic battle between the Badgers' understated uniforms and the Ducks' glitter factory helmets, and you've got the best bowl-watching experience of the year.

2. Fiesta. Andrew Luck vs. Justin Blackmon at the top of their powers -- at the top of the powers of anyone at their positions in college football -- would be worth a top-five placement alone. Luck vs. Blackmon and 79 points and overtime drama? That's worth top-two.

3. Alamo Bowl. To call the defenses in this game abominably porous would be an insult to pores (and abominations). But the Alamo is a random weeknight bowl game--just as no one wants to watch an Oscar-baiting 17th-century literary adaptation on their Guys' Night Out, so no one tuned into the Alamo for rugged defense and awesome punting. Thankfully, what Baylor and Washington gave us was the college football equivalent of four hours of Jason Statham shooting explosions.

4. Outback. Come for Kirk Cousins leading the most unlikely comeback this side of the whooping crane, stay for Mark Richt nominating himself for the (dis)honor of "World's Fraidiest-Cat Football Coach." Oh, and triple overtime.

5. New Orleans. We'd ask if you could remember this thriller between Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State from the bowl season's opening night, but we don't think anyone who watched could forget Ragin' Cajun kicker Brett Baer deliriously celebrating his last-second game-winner if they tried.

6. Military. One word: #MACtion. And two numbers: 42-41. And, all right, eight more words to help do this game justice: last-minute do-or-die failed fake extra point holder-kicker option.

7. Sun. We're suckers for any game featuring the triple-option (see the Air Force game ranked one spot above), and Utah's 4th-and-14 touchdown conversion to send the game into OT was one of the more dramatic single plays of the entire bowl season. That 3-0 anti-classic between Pitt and Oregon State was a particularly distant memory in El Paso this year.

8. Belk. A matchup of Utterly Average ACC team vs. Utterly Average Big East team -- in a bowl sponsored by a department store that thinks Macy's is way too wild and edgy -- should have been one of the snoozers of the year. Instead, Mike Glennon caught fire, Louisville mounted a spirited comeback, and this wound up one of the better games of the postseason.

9. Little Caesars. The quality of play in this game at times was like ... well, have you ever actually eaten the pizza of the sponsor? But Western Michigan receiver Jordan White put on a spectacular show (13 catches, 249 yards), the teams combined for 69 points, and the Boilers special teams pulled off two onsides kicks and a kick return for TD. Tasty!

10. Famous Idaho Potato. OK, OK: we're giving this game (which was less-than-must-see-viewing for much of the first 55 minutes) a slight bonus for its killer logo. But we're giving it a much bigger bonus for the pulse-pounding final drive from quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the Bobcats for the first bowl win in program history.

11. Armed Forces. If you're going to be a sorta-dull game between two sorta-unmemorable teams, better come up with a memorable play and/or a big finish. Riley Nelson's game-winning fake spike touchdown to become college football's answer to Dan Marino just about did the trick.

12. Sugar. Another for the "ugly game, fascinating ending" file, but this was Michigan doing their damnedest to be Michigan again and Virginia Tech doing their damnedest to avoid the rabbit's feet and horseshoes and four-leaf clovers falling out of the Wolverines' pockets -- Danny Coale most especially -- and it was in New Orleans. You didn't quit watching, did you?

13. Poinsettia. Not a classic, but three-and-a-half back-and-forth hours with a feisty Louisiana Tech team and an underrated TCU squad most definitely qualified as "serviceable." Think of this year's Poinsettia as the quality burger-and-fries plate from the local joint down the street--not mind-blowing, but spend a few weeks in Peru, where they don't have burgers or college football, and you'll crave a Poinsettia Bowl so badly you could scream.

14. Orange. In the space of about an hour, Dana Holgorsen's evisceration of Clemson went from thrilling to discomfiting to boring to morbidly fascinating to -- once we all realized the Mountaineers weren't going to hit triple digits -- back to boring again. Not every game that hits 100 points is one for the DVD vaults, as it turns out.

15. Liberty. Give me Cincinnati defeating Vanderbilt in surprisingly convincing, mildly entertaining fashion or give me death! (Actually, we've got that first thing already, so no need to worry about providing the second, thanks.)

16. Chick-Fil-A. For 2.5 quarters, this was a delightful shootout with all the requisite trickery you'd hope for from a game involving Gus Malzahn. Then Virginia remembered that it was not only Virginia, but proud ACC member Virginia, and the fun was over.

17. Meineke Car Care. Seriously, Texas A&M, we didn't tune in to see you only flirt with blowing a huge lead against a team that hasn't won a bowl game since approximately the Grover Cleveland administration.

18. Capital One. This game featured an abundance of must-watch plays -- Alshon Jeffery catching a  bomb, Alshon Jeffery hauling in a half-ending Hail Mary, Alshon Jeffery getting ejected for fighting -- but aside from, well, Alshon Jeffery, there wasn't much to it.

19. Cotton Bowl. The 15 seconds of Joe Adams' punt return, the 10 seconds of Jarius Wright's touchdown, and the 5 minutes when it looked like Kansas State might mount yet another smashing comeback were riveting stuff. The other 54:35? Not so much.

20. BCS National Championship. A great game, if you're the sort of fan who enjoys watching nature shows where a pride of lions tear a wildebeest to pieces because the wildebeest can't complete a downfield pass to save its life.

21. TicketCity. If he'd stuggled, he'd have been called a fraud; because he ripped Penn State's D into tiny shreds, no one paid attention. Which is why we're working on a sitcom pilot right now called Case Keenum Can't Win.

22. Gator. When one team's special teams scores just one fewer touchdown than the two offenses combined (as Florida's did), it's safe to say you're not watching a classic.

23. GoDaddy.com. Thanks to a 31-0 run from Northern Illinois, what was expected to be a nailbiting shootout ended up the biggest disappointment since that "unrated web content" we checked out.

24. Champs Sports. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Seminoles and Irish were trying their best ... to make us wish they'd just aired a repeat of the 1993 meeting instead.

25. Las Vegas. College football produces a lot of emotions, but from the neutral perspective, it's rare that one of them is outright legitimate anger. Seeing Kellen Moore forced to end his career slumming it against an Arizona State team that checked out in early November sure turned the trick, though.

26. Independence. The Tar Heels came out so flat, and were finished off so quickly, that we're pretty sure the only lovely parting gift they walked away with was "Independence Bowl: the Board Game."

27. Music City. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, and Wake Forest averaged 2.9 yards per-play. If Hank Williams or some other old-time country artist had come to Nashville to write a sad song about a sad bowl game, this is the game they'd use for inspiration.

28. Insight. Sadly, the only "insight" we got from this game was that Vegas oddsmakers -- who had the Sooners installed as the biggest favorite of the entire bowl season -- know what they're talking about. And who didn't know that already?

29. Holiday. It wasn't that long ago when Jeff Tedford's Cal and Mack Brown's Texas squaring off would have been appointment television. This game was, too, though in the sense that it was the sort of game you made an appointment somewhere else to avoid viewing.

30. Hawaii. Nevada and Southern Mississippi were collectively as sharp as your average butter knife, but let's see you spend a week chilling in Hawaii and then play a quality football game. The best players the NFL has to offer try it every single year and haven't succeeded yet.

31. Pinstripe. The only thing we remember from this game was our wish to travel back to, say, 1998, and explain to a random college football fan that in 2011, Rutgers would win a bowl game in Yankee Stadium that would give them the nation's longest postseason winning streak. (We're still not sure it's actually happening.)

32. Beef 'O' Brady's. Newton's Second Law of Bowl Aesthetics: Whensoever a Game Produces Fewer Offensive Touchdowns Than the Game Has Apostrophes in its Title, That Game Shall Be, Verily, Entirely Terrible.

33. New Mexico. We'd waited so long to be able to sit down and watch a college bowl game, and by halftime we were sort of wishing we'd gotten to wait a little bit longer.

34. BBVA Compass. For two straight years, Pitt has been forced to play in Legion Field on a January weekday afternoon in front of no one under an interim coach against a nondescript opponent. Vs. SMU the Panthers looked like they'd much rather be off somewhere doing something much more fun, like peeling potatoes with their teeth--and we don't blame them a bit.

35. Kraft Fight Hunger. Comedian Patton Oswalt once called a certain famous KFC product a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." Capitalize that B, and we can't think of a better way to describe 2011 Illinois "battling" 2011 UCLA.

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:07 am
 

QUICK HITS: N. Illinois 38 Arkansas State 20



Posted by Tom Fornelli


NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Things looked to be going Arkansas State's way early after the Red Wolves jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but it was all Northern Illinois from that point on. The Huskies scored 31 consecutive points after that and cruised to victory in the GoDaddy.com Bowl to finish the season 11-3.

Chandler Harnish finished a strong career with the Huskies by throwing for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns, and receiver Martel Moore was easily his favorite target on the night. Moore finished the game with 8 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown. For Arkansas State, quarterback Ryan Aplin had a tough night, throwing for 352 yards, but also throwing 3 interceptions.

WHY NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Simply put, after falling down 13-0 in the first quarter, the Northern Illinois defense just put the Arkansas State offense on lockdown. The Huskies outscored the Red Wolves 38-7 from then on. Mix in 3 interceptions by Ryan Aplin and 5 turnovers from Arkansas State, and you get a relatively easy victory for Northern Illinois

WHEN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Arkansas State showed signs of life in the fourth quarter with a touchdown to cut NIU's lead to 31-20, but with 8:19 to play Aplin threw his third interception of the game and Dechane Durante took it 36 yards to the house to make it 38-20. Everything from that point on was just cosmetic.

WHAT NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. The Huskies put a nice cap on a season that saw the school win its first MAC title, and also a nice end to a great career from quarterback Chandler Harnish. The Huskies also showed that they didn't lose a step under Dave Doeren took over for Jerry Kill following last season, and Northern Illinois looks like a school that will be a force in the MAC for the next few seasons.

WHAT ARKANSAS STATE LOST. This was a very good season for Arkansas State, going 8-0 in the Sun Belt to win the conference, but this wasn't the way the Red Wolves wanted the season to end. Still, with Gus Malzahn coming from Auburn to take over for Hugh Freeze -- and possibly bringing Michael Dyer with him -- the future still looks bright for the Red Wolves.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Giving your right arm for Gus Malzahn.



BOWL GRADE: C. I had high hopes for this one, as two fast-paced, high-scoring offenses were going to battle in Mobile, but there was never much doubt in the outcome. After Northern Illinois erased a 13-0 deficit with 31 straight points, even when Arkansas State got back into it in the fourth quarter, you never really got the sense that the Red Wolves would climb all the way back. So because of that lack of drama, it's hard to justify giving this one anything higher than a "C." 

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune 
Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:50 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:51 pm
 

GoDaddy.com Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could determine the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State defense

Northern Illinois' offense is averaging 481.8 yards per game in 2011, good enough to place the unit ninth in the nation. Quarterback Chandler Harnish finished the season eighth in the country in total offense, averaging 332.6 yards of total offense per game. All of which means Harnish was accountable for 69% of the Huskies offense this season.

So, as you can see, as Harnish goes, so go the Huskies.

Harnish did all of this with both his arm and his legs, averaging 245 yards through the air and 115 yards on the ground per game. With a dual threat like that at quarterback, to stop him it will be up to the entire Arkansas State defense, not just its defenslve line, linebackers or secondary. Not an easy task, but one that Arkansas State's defense seems up to. This unit, which finished 14th in the nation in total defense, is easily the best defense statistically that Harnish will face this season.

The best way for Arkansas State to do this would be to make Harnish one-dimensional. Whether that be by forcing him to throw to beat them, or taking away the passing game, that's up to the Red Wolves. This defense is strong in both areas. What matters is that they execute their game plan and force Harnish to be predictable because Northern Illinois' defense -- which gave up 31.1 points per game -- is going to give up a lot of points. So if Arkansas State can slow Harnish down and keep the Huskies from putting up a ton of points, then Arkansas State should win this game rather comfortably.

Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame 

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Keys to the Game: GoDaddy.com Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NORTHERN ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois won the MAC this season, and did so because it has one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Huskies finished 9th in the country in total yards per game at 481.8 yards per game while scoring 38.3 points a game, but the biggest difference maker for Northern Illinois in this game may be its defense. Odds are that the Huskies are going to score some points, but can their defense keep somebody else off the board? NIU allowed 31.3 points a game this season, and will be facing an Arkansas State offense that isn't exactly a pushover, as the Red Wolves scored 33.5 points a game and feature Ryan Aplin at quarterback. Aplin finished 10th in the country in total offense for Red Wolves this year. Northern Illinois will need to find a way to keep Aplin in check during this contest, or else we're going to see a game that could end up rivaling the Alamo Bowl, and whichever team has the ball last will win.

ARKANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois has a pretty good quarterback of its own in Chandler Harnish, and he will not be an easy test for this Arkansas State defense. Harnish finished eighth in the country in total offense ahead of Arkansas State's Aplin. The biggest difference here between these two teams, and what may decide this game, is that Arkansas State's defense was a lot more successful in 2011. The Red Wolves allowed only 19.3 points a game this year, good enough to place the Red Wolves in the top-15 nationally in scoring defense. Aside from Virginia Tech and Illinois, no offense was able to score more than 24 points in a game against Arkansas State. If Arkansas State's run defense -- which finished the year ranked 14th in the nation -- can keep Chandler Harnish and Jasmin Hopkins from running wild, then the Red Wolves are going to win this game.

X-FACTOR: It's hard to pick only one, so the X-Factors in this game will be both quarterbacks, Ryan Aplin and Chandler Harnish. These are two players who do more for their teams than just about any other player in the country, and odds are whichever one of these two players has the best day, their team is going to win. 

Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
 
 
 
 
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