Tag:Northern Illinois
Posted on: December 5, 2010 7:26 pm
 

Report: Minnesota hires Jerry Kill

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Sunday night, Northern Illinois held its football banquet, and head coach Jerry Kill was in attendance, though any and all media were kept out.  It appears there was a reason for this.

It seems that Kill wanted to say goodbye to his team in private.

Numerous reports and tweets are saying that Kill has been hired as the next head coach at Minnesota, where he will replace Tim Brewster who was fired earlier this season.  Kill has been at Northern Illinois since 2008 where he's gone 23-16 in three seasons, including a 10-3 mark this season, leading the Huskies to the MAC Championship Game where they lost to Miami of Ohio.

Before coming to NIU, Kill had coached at Southern Illinois, Saginaw Valley State and Emporia State.  The press conference to announce the hire is scheduled at 2pm Central on Monday.
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:33 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 4:59 pm
 

Report: Bowl bids coming fast


J. Darin Darst


TampaBay.com is reporting that South Florida and Clemson will meet in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas is reporting that Texas Tech has accepted a bowl bid to play Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl .

Alabama.com is reporting Pittsburgh has accepted an invite to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which is the old Papajohns.com Bowl.

The Fresno Bee says Fresno State is headed back to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Northern Illinois. Interesting note, Fresno is 0-3 against teams with 10 wins this year, losing to Hawaii, Nevada and Boise State. Northern Illinois is 10-3.

The Dallas Morning News is also saying Baylor will be headed to the Texas Bowl. Fox Sports reported the info during broadcast of the Baylor women's basketball game.

The Detroit News says the Little Caesars Bowl is set with Toledo taking on FIU. That means Miami (Ohio), which won the MAC on Saturday night, will be headed to the GoDaddy.com Bowl.





Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:05 pm
 

Conference title games all set

J. Darin Darst

We still have a few regular season games left in the season that mean something, including Pac-10 teams trying to make a bowl (Arizona State and Washington), here is the schedule for the conference title games:

Dec. 3

MAC Championship: Northern Illinois (10-2) vs. Miami (Ohio) (8-4), 7 p.m. on ESPN2: Winner most likely goes to the Little Caesars Bowl, while the loser will be in either the GoDaddy.com or Humanitarian Bowl.

Dec. 4

C-USA Championship: UCF (9-3) vs. SMU (6-2), Noon on ESPN: Winner goes to the Liberty Bowl to most likely play either Georgia or Tennessee. If SMU loses they are probably headed to the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. The Armed Forces Bowl is being played in SMU's Ford Stadium this year. If UCF loses, look for the Knights to play Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

SEC Championship: Auburn (12-0) vs. South Carolina (8-3), 4 p.m. on CBS: It's easy for Auburn. Win and it plays for the BCS National Championship, lose and it will be in the Orange Bowl. A South Carolina win puts the Gamecocks in the Sugar Bowl. A South Carolina loss will most likely send it to the Outback Bowl.

ACC Championship: Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Florida State (9-3), 7:45 p.m. on ESPN: Winner goes to the Orange Bowl, while the loser probably ends up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If the Chick-fil-A Bowl chooses a different team, than the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Notre Dame would be the next spot.

Big 12 Championship: Nebraska (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2), 8 p.m. on ABC: Winner goes to the Fiesta Bowl, while the loser looks headed to the Alamo Bowl. The Cotton Bowl has the next pick out of the Big 12, but appears to be taking Texas A&M, so the loser of this game falls to the Alamo Bowl.

* Big East -- Connecticut at South Florida, 8 p.m. on ESPN2: A Connecticut wins, the Huskies go to either the Orange or Fiesta Bowl for the first time in history. If South Florida wins, than West Virginia wins the Big East and most certainly will play in the Orange Bowl.

 

 

Posted on: November 22, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Kent State coach Martin to step down after season

Posted by Adam Jacobi

When the MAC opens its football season in 2011, it'll do so without its current longest-serving head coach. According to a statement by Kent State last night, head coach Doug Martin will step down after the end of this season. Martin is 47 years old and has spent all of seven years at the helm of the Golden Flashes; in the MAC, that qualifies for longest-tenured. Next season, that title will belong to Frank Solich of Ohio and Bill Cubit at Western Michigan.

This serial instability is pretty much par for the course in the MAC, though; even if no other MAC coaches leave their post between now and the end of August -- always a dicey proposition -- there'll be only three coaches in the 12-team conference with more than three years atop their programs in 2011: Solich, Cubit, and Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. That means that a substantial amount of players on MAC football teams have been at their schools longer than their coaches have. And it's not as if this is a new development; the last coaches at each school were only there for an average of 6.2 years, and nine either resigned, retired, or got fired. It's really, really hard to build a program in an environment that basically ensures such a high failure rate.

In a minor football conference, though, there's a fine line between stability and stagnation, and that's certainly the case in the MAC. It's hard to get fans (and boosters) excited if the team just went through a sub-.500 season and didn't make any wholesale changes, after all. But administrators routinely underestimate the destructive effects of a coaching change on a program, and that appears to be the case here again. Yes, Martin resigned, but it's hard to imagine he could have the Kent State job back if he had asked for it.

Kent State has announced that it is beginning a national search for Martin's successor immediately. And so the gears of abject mediocrity grind on, endlessly greased with the entrails of careers that barely stand a chance.

Posted on: October 23, 2010 10:39 pm
 

What I learned from the non-BCS (Oct. 23)

J. Darin Darst

1. Can we please just give the Mountain West an automatic bid to the BCS instead of the Big East? Please, I beg you. Utah and TCU are easily deserving of BCS bids and I would even say Air Force is better than any team in the Big East too. One team I learned we shouldn't forget about is BYU. Most of us have written the Cougars off, but this team finally looks like its putting things together and might shape the BCS bid for the Mountain West as they have to play Utah in the final game of the season. How much would BYU fans enjoy knocking Utah off one last time before the Utes bolt to the Pac-10, knocking them out of the BCS bowl picture. They don't call it the Holy War for nothing.

2. Circle your calendars for a showdown next weekend of the two best teams in Conference USA next weekend -- East Carolina at UCF. The Pirates have won three in a row and are averaging 38 points per game over that stretch. Meanwhile, UCF has the conferences best defense, which has allowed only 11.6 points over its three-game winning streak. The winner of this game should decide the East Divison in the conference and will be the favorite to win the C-USA crown and that Liberty Bowl berth. It's going to be a great matchup in Orlando. What a weekend you could plan -- watch UCF take on East Carolina and after the game head on over to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights.

3. How good is this Hawaii team? Utah State was supposed to be a sleeper team and hung with Oklahoma, but all Hawaii did was blast them 45-7. Bryant Moniz ... has anybody else outside of Hawaii heard of this guy? He only leads the nation in passing yards and finished Saturday with another 389 yards. The biggest question we all want to know is, can the Warriors (6-2) give Boise State a game? We are going to find out soon enough -- at Boise on Nov. 6.

4. Who is the Sun Belt's second-best team? Since the conference has two bowl bids this year, somebody has to grab that second spot, right? Louisiana-Lafayette looked like it might finally grab a bowl bid, but ended up losing at home to Western Kentucky 54-21. The Hilltoppers hadn't won a game in close to three years. Maybe its Arkansas State? The Red Wolves are now 3-2 in the conference and played Troy really close (Lost 35-28). Big game for Arkansas State on Nov. 2 as it takes on Middle Tennessee. FIU was off this week, but it is 2-0 in Sun Belt play. Will somebody please step up in the coming weeks!

5. Miami (Ohio) isn't all that great and the fade is beginning. Sure the RedHawks were 3-0 in the conference, but just lost to Ohio, a key game in the East Division. They now have three of their final four games on the road, including next week at Buffalo. I'm not sure they are going to be able to win the division. Ohio and Temple are much better teams and with the conference only getting three bowl bids, Miami (Ohio) is most likely going to be left out. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is making a HUGE statement in the West as it has now won five in a row. Get ready for the game on Nov. 9 against Toledo, which will likely decide who reaches the MAC title game.

Posted on: October 19, 2010 10:11 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 2:06 pm
 

Midseason Report: Rest of Non-BCS

The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race, and in the some of the smaller conferences, it's anybody's conference crown. Here's what's happened so far and what might happen down the stretch.

MOUNTAIN WEST

The MWC crown is almost certain to come down to one game: TCU (7-0, 3-0) at Utah (6-0, 3-0) on Nov. 6. Neither the Horned Frogs nor the Utes have broken a sweat in conference play to date (the Frogs have gone three weeks without even allowing a touchdown), and with nonconference challenges like Oregon State, Pitt, Baylor, and Iowa State all collectively behind them, chances are good both teams will go into their showdown undefeated, ranked in the top 10, and ready for a mega-hyped, winner-take-all matchup for the conference title.

And if a handful of the BCS conference powers above them in the BCS standings drop games between now and then, the stakes could be even higher than that.

The only team with a realistic shot of upsetting the MWC Game of the Century apple cart is Air Force (5-2, 3-1), which will travel to TCU this week and host the Utes Oct. 30. The Falcons came within a whisker of collecting a huge scalp at Oklahoma and have the inside track on the Commander in Chief's Trophy after ousting Navy, but their 27-25 loss last Saturday at San Diego State (4-2, 1-1) means they'll likely have to sweep the TCU/Utah pairing to take the conference title. Good luck with that, Falcons.

And hey, speaking of the Aztecs, Brady Hoke 's impressive salvage job has SDSU all of six points (and two questionable calls, one each at Missouri and BYU ) away from a perfect 6-0 record. As is, they'll likely have to settle for playing spoiler against the two league powers and their first bowl berth since 1998.

The less said about the other five teams in the league -- and their combined 7-22 overall record -- the better.

C-USA

We are in for quite a race in the East with East Carolina (4-2, 3-0), UCF (4-2, 2-0) and Southern Miss (5-2, 2-1). East Carolina already beat Southern Miss but plays at UCF on Oct. 30. The Golden Knights will host Southern Miss on Nov. 13.

 UCF might be the best of the trio with a defense ranked as one of the best in the nation. The Knights have been led by defensive end Bruce Miller (seven tackles for a loss) and cornerback Josh Robinson (eight breakups). The offense has come along despite not having starting running back Brynn Harvey. Freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey has done well this season, rushing for 310 yards, while throwing for 669.

East Carolina has one of the best passing offenses with former Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis (16 TDs, nine INTs). The Pirates can pass with anybody, but the biggest problem right now is the defense. East Carolina's defense is ranked 111th in the nation and has given up 40 or more points in four of the six games.

Southern Miss will need to beat UCF and get some help after losing 44-43 to East Carolina a few weeks ago, but this is still a pretty good team. Austin Davis is having a good season (1,480 yards), but top receiver DeAndre Brown has been struggling with a leg injury all season. The Golden Eagles need him to have a shot to win the conference crown. The defense is once again strong against the run with LBs Korey Williams and Ronnie Thornton leading the way.

In the West, SMU is in the driver's seat with Houston, UTEP and Tulsa all giving chase. The Mustangs lost some tough out-of-conference games against Texas Tech and TCU, but is still undefeated in conference play. It should be no surprise that SMU has been able to pass and put up points. Kyle Padron is doing very well with 1,818 yards passing and 19 TDs. Aldrick Robinson has become Padron's favorite receiver with 580 yards receiving. SMU faces Houston this weekend and at UTEP on Nov. 6. It already beat Tulsa 21-18 on Oct. 9.

WAC

Make no mistake about it, Boise State is in total control of the WAC. It went undefeated through the conference last season as is expected to cruise through this year. Kellen Moore is once against having a fantastic season with 16 touchdown passes with only one interception. Also to nobody's surprise, Boise State ranks in the top 5 in both offense and defense, including having the No. 1 rush defense in the nation. The only games that could spell trouble for the Broncos are vs. Hawaii on Nov. 6 and at Nevada on Nov. 26.

Hawaii's passing attack and Nevada's pistol offense can be tough to defend, but it would be a major shock if Boise State lost either of those games.

MAC

This conference is wide open, but looks like it's going to come down to Northern Illinois (5-2, 3-0) or Toledo (4-3, 3-0) in the West and a trio of teams in the East.

 Miami (Ohio) has been the biggest surprise of the conference, sitting on top of the East with a 3-0 record and 4-3 overall. The RedHawks still have their toughest competition left with Ohio (Oct. 23), at Temple (Nov. 23) still on the schedule. It's also pretty amazing since Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst rushing games in the nation, gaining just 69.7 yards per game (112th). I'm not sure this team can win the East, but we'll have to keep an eye on them.

Ohio stumbled against Marshall, but has won three in a row and can take a big step toward the East title with a win over Miami (Ohio) this weekend. It would have to play at Temple on Nov. 16. Boo Jackson is doing pretty well back at quarterback with 913 yards passing and nine TDs. The defense has done a solid job, being led by Donovan Fletcher who leads the team with 42 tackles and five interceptions.

Everybody's favorite Temple is right in the thick of the race and gets to host Ohio and Miami (Ohio) later this season. If I had to pick a team to win the conference, I would pick the Owls. The passing game needs to get better, but the rushing attack has been just fine. When Bernard Pierce is healthy, he gives the Owls a huge boost over every team in the conference. And when Pierce is out, Matt Brown has stepped right in just fine.

Out West, Northern Illinois has been using a strong rushing attack, led by Chad Spann (753 yards, eight TDs) and quarterback Chandler Harnish (457, 6.4 avg) to improve to 3-0 in the conference and 5-2 overall. It will host Toledo on Nov. 9 in what will probably decide the division. Toledo's offense hasn't been all that great this year, but does have one of the top wide receivers in Eric Page (54 catches, 580 yards). Archie Donald has been fantastic at linebacker, recording 72 tackles, which ranks 18th in the nation.

Sun Belt

The conference is Troy's to lose ... again. Middle Tennessee was supposed to contend, but the Trojans did away with them 42-13. Louisiana-Lafayette put up a fight, but Troy beat them 31-24. So who's left? Keep your eye on Florida International . The Golden Panthers are 2-0 in the conference and hung with Rutgers and Texas A&M earlier in the season. That game is at Troy on Nov. 13.

Troy hasn't missed a beat with freshman quarterback Corey Robinson . He has thrown for 1,740 yards and 12 touchdowns, while RB DuJuan Harris (300 yards rushing) and Jerrel Jernigan (501 yards receiving) have also done a nice job. FIU also has a good receiving core with Greg Ellingson and T.Y. Hilton . Anthony Gaitor is one of the best defensive backs in the conference and could be a factor in their game next month.


Posted on: October 9, 2010 10:28 pm
 

What I learned from the Non-BCS teams (Oct. 9)

By J. Darin Darst

1. We are in for a great battle in the Mountain West between Utah, TCU and Air Force. Is their any doubt that this conference is better than the Big East? It's very easy to say TCU is the best team because it is ranked the highest in the polls, but I'm not so sure about that. And I'm not so sure anybody comes out of the this conference undefeated. Utah has looked just as good as TCU this season and absolutely destroyed Iowa State on Saturday night. TCU hosts Air Force on Oct. 23 and then travels to play at Utah on Nov. 6. Air Force hosts Utah on Oct. 30. That's quite a three-week stretch for three Top 25 teams. I'll take any three of those teams over anybody from the Big East.

2. Army looks like it is headed to a bowl for the first time since 1996. Sure, the Black Knights only beat Tulane, but this team is 4-2. They have also scored 194 points this season, 10 more than all of last year. It only needs to come up with two more victories to play in the Armed Forces Bowl. It plays VMI on Oct. 30, which will most certainly be a win, so Army just needs to find one more victory -- at Rutgers, Air Force, at Kent State, at Notre Dame or at Navy. You know most of the nation will be rooting for them.

3. Northern Illinois might be the frontrunner in the MAC, not Temple. The Owls looked like the team to beat until today as Northern Illinois defeated them 31-17. Chandler Harnish threw two touchdown passes and Chad Spann rushed for 100 yards and a score in the victory. Northern Illinois is 4-2, 2-0 in the conference and has victories over Minnesota (not a huge accomplishment, but its still a BCS team) and barely lost to Illinois 28-22. The biggest game left on its schedule is probably at road trip to Western Michigan on Oct. 30. Stay tuned.

4. Troy is by far the best team in the Sun Belt. Many, including myself, thought Middle Tennessee would win the conference. But even with Dwight Dasher back for MTSU, Troy blasted the Blue Raiders 42-13 on Tuesday night. Since the Sun Belt gets two bowl bids, the bigger question is -- who is the second-best team? It's up for grabs, but Louisiana-Lafayette looks to be up for the challenge. Despite starting the season at 0-4, Florida International could be the second-best team. It hung with Rutgers and Texas A&M in non-conference play.

Posted on: September 26, 2010 5:45 am
Edited on: September 27, 2010 3:00 pm
 

How fired is Tim Brewster? Very, right?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Minnesota dropped their third game in a row on Saturday, losing 34-23 to presumptive MACrifice Northern Illinois. That's three consecutive losses to non-conference opponents, making Minnesota the first team in Big Ten history to drop three consecutive non-con games when those three games include one against a I-AA/FCS opponent.

Of course, there isn't a great sample size for that type of "feat"; the Big Ten hasn't been scheduling I-AA/FCS programs for very long, and losses to those types of programs have been conceivable for an even shorter amount of time. But still: this is a new level of futility.

It's gotten so bad for head coach Tim Brewster that fans were chanting "Fire Brewster" during the game, and he certainly didn't do much to dissuade any of them during the loss. He sent his team out twice on 4th and 1; Minnesota was stuffed both times. The Gophers also surrendered a blocked punt with a minute left in the first half -- this led to an NIU touchdown that would give the Huskies a lead they never relinquished -- and Minnesota was also whistled for nine penalties, four more than were the Huskies.

So this loss gets added to the two before it, Brewster's critical comments about the program's spending habits (in a brand new stadium, mind you), the recent disciplinary troubles, and the fans' rather severe loss of patience with the program. At this point, barring an immediate and aberrant turn in fortunes, Minnesota looks to be a 3-win team, tops. That would put Brewster at 17-33 (8-24) for his Minnesota career, numbers that would earn just about any BCS conference coach a swift firing no matter what the buyout.

In fact, the shame of losing to South Dakota and Northern Illinois in the span of three weeks might get some coaches fired immediately, but ironically, Brewster's temporary saving grace might be his own team's ineptitude. If Minnesota AD Joel Maturi looks at the program, he's going to see middling performance at every position -- meaning Maturi's unlikely to find a current assistant with a track record of success that suggests he'd be any better than Brewster to finish out the season.

But once this season is over, yes, Brewster is a dead lock to be fired; this is a historic level of haplessness, and Brewster's one assumed strength coming into this job (recruiting) has essentially failed to materialize in Minneapolis. The rest of the Big Ten just hopes Maturi doesn't notice that Mike Leach is available.

 
 
 
 
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