Barstool brings the big-time to NIU, debates local pizza and MACtion

Barstool caps MACtion tour in DeKalb


Sean Reed

Barstool Sports personality Dan “Big Cat” Katz makes his betting prediction for the football game between NIU and Miami University scheduled for later that evening. Katz took the over number of 44.5 points, which was covered as NIU and Miami combined for 52 points during Wednesday’s game. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The NIU community got its night under the college football spotlight as Barstool Sports brought “The Barstool College Football Show” to Fatty’s Pub & Grille ahead of NIU football’s midweek matchup with Miami University on Wednesday.

The event marked the second night of the show’s tour of the Mid-American Conference. This is the first time that “The Barstool College Football Show” was hosted near NIU’s campus.

“I think it’s pretty nice,” junior kinesiology major Miranda Mechanic said. “We’re a smaller school, so it’s nice that they came to the MAC for a week instead of going to the big schools.”

Barstool Sports held a show before Tuesday’s matchup between the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University in Toledo, Ohio.

The show was hosted by founder and president of Barstool Sports Dave “El Presidente” Portnoy, and hosts Dan “Big Cat” Katz, Kayce Smith and Brandon Walker.

“It was an incredible experience,” Walker said. “It’s 30 degrees and snowing tonight, and Northern Illinois students showed up and showed out, they were awesome. They were energetic. They were engaged.”

Katz said he was impressed with the turnout of Huskie fans despite NIU football’s recent struggles as the team sat at 3-7 before Wednesday’s game.

“It’s MACtion, NIU’s not having the best season, but the fans are still out,” Katz said. “It was the best. Everyone was the best, the people were the best. We’re hanging out, eating potato salad at Fatty’s. It was a great time.”

Hosts make picks, El Pres brings hate for Ball State

The Barstool Sports crew previewed the NIU-Miami matchup as well as other notable college football matchups around the country, such as Saturday’s game between the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the No. 3 ranked University of Michigan.

“In the last 20 years, NIU has had a far superior (football) program than Illinois,” Portnoy jokingly said with a smile as he picked Michigan, his alma mater, to beat Illinois.

Katz and Portnoy picked Eastern Michigan University to win over Kent State University for their Proper No. 12  Irish Whiskey Picks of the Week. Walker picked Vanderbilt University over the University of Florida, while Smith picked No. 4 Texas Christian University over Baylor University.

Portnoy frequently interacted with the crowd, even asking the crowd who NIU’s main rival is. The crowd promptly responded with Ball State University, then shortly afterward began chanting “f— Ball State.”

MAC trivia and food mania

Walker led a segment called “High Noon Trivia” with Brandon Walker where he asked a member of the crowd a question about NIU football’s matchup history.

Other notable Barstool Sports icons were present at the show, including co-hosts of Barstool’s “Redline Radio,”  Dave “White Sox Dave” Williams, Ryan “Chief” Brandell and Edward Farrer. Brandell commented on the excitement around the Mid-American Conference matchup.

“I love it here,” Brandell said. “The energy is great out here. A ton of people turning out. I’ve always had a little place in my heart for Northern Illinois. A couple of sub .500 teams, but that stadium at home on a Wednesday night, to me, is prime MAC football.”

Farrer led the Hooters Wing Eating Contest for two NIU students, Aidan Connor and Nathan Brander. The students had 30 seconds to eat 30 chicken wings. Brander took home the victory.

Portnoy mentioned during the show that he reviewed the pizza at Lord Stanley’s Annex Bar, Vinny’s and Pizza Pros, all local restaurants in DeKalb.

Portnoy stirred the crowd with his review of Vinny’s pizza.

“Trash,” Portnoy said. “Lord Stanley’s was better than Vinny’s, and the place across the street, Pro Pizza, that one was eh. Listen, you guys got some work to do on your pizza, let’s be honest.”

Barstool’s DeKalb debut garners promising results

Fans at the show commented on the impact of Barstool’s presence at NIU.

“I think that it really brings the NIU community together,” junior digital marketing and professional sales major Brenden Ivie said. “It’s great for all of us to not only interact with each other, but also to interact with the individuals of Barstool. It brings a different experience.”

The hosts announced at the end that the show plans to continue covering MACtion in the future.

“We’ll (Barstool Sports) do MACtion every year,” Portnoy said. “We were talking about that on the bus.”

Portnoy wrapped up the show by leading a final “f— Ball State” chant.

“You guys (the crowd) showed out so well that we’re going to make sure we’re going to come back,” Smith added.

Tri-State Towing has a field day at Culver’s

The notice posted in the parking lot at the Culver’s in DeKalb, warning event goers that leaving their vehicles on the premises would subject their vehicle to being towed. (Sean Reed)

Due to the crowded parking near Fatty’s, some parked their vehicles in the lot of the adjacent Culver’s. Tri-State Towing spent the night towing several vehicles from the Culver’s lot, as Culver’s only permitted parking for its customers.

A sign attached to the notice of a tow risk area had a simple warning for vehicle owners: “If you leave the property, your vehicle will be towed.”

The show concluded at about 5 p.m. in preparation for the kickoff of the NIU football game. NIU was defeated by Miami 29-23 in a snowy battle at Huskie Stadium.

View more of the Northern Star’s photo coverage of the event.