‘Fans’ lost bids

As a former NIU football player, I am always keeping track of the Huskie football team. First, I’d like to say congratulations to Coach Pettibone and all the Huskies for a fine season—you guys really are something!

I was, however, disappointed to see that they were overlooked for a bowl bid. The truly sad thing is that it is not the team’s fault. It’s the fans—or should I say lack of fans.

Newsflash, NIU. You’ve got a good football team.

Week after week, my frustration would build as I read about the phenomenal stats the Huskie offense accumulated, only to read the final, crushing statistic: attendance at Huskie stadium.

If you fail to see the connection between bowl bids and attendance, Huskie “fans,” let me make it simple.

Sadly enough, the best teams are not always chosen for bowl games. Instead, teams are chosen, in part, by the revenue they can potentially generate. For example, Independence Bowl officials chose Tulsa (not exactly a household name in football) with a mediocre averaged 30,000 plus per game, while the Huskies had a hard time convincing even 6,000 fans to come and watch. As a matter of fact, NIU has a better record than 21 of the 36 teams playing in the bowl games.

What does this all mean? It means that you, the NIU students, have prevented your team from going to its first bowl game since 1983. Worse yet, you are robbing yourself of one of the most enjoyable, traditional aspects of college life—going to football games.

It still amazes me how few of you go to the games. In the years I played, (1979 to 1983) very rarely did our attendence dip below 15,000 (even in 1981 with a record of 3-8). Why aren’t you going? Maybe you’d rather watch Notre Dame or Michigan on TV. Maybe you’d rather go home for the weekend. Maybe the apathy of NIU has reached the point of no return.

My solution is this: tape the game on TV and have Mom and Dad come to DeKalb and go watch your team play, take pride in your university. You might, dare I say it, enjoy yourself.

No, the Huskies are not Notre Dame or Michigan. I can’t say they ought to be in the A.P. top 10 or playing in the Orange Bowl—not yet, anyway. But they do deserve to be in another game such as the Independence Bowl or the new Copper Bowl. The Huskies are good enough. But before they can convince the world, I guess they have to convince NIU.

And that, evidently, is a pretty tough task.

Jon Orech

NIU alumnus