Magazines tab QB spot as NIU key

By Jeff Kirik

Even though grid-iron season is still more than a month away, the college football magazines are out in full force.

And when it comes to NIU, the scribes have come to a consensus on what it will take for the Huskies to repeat the success of their 7-4 1988 season.

Says Football Digest’s College Football Preview, “The Huskies are looking for a quarterback, the key player in their Wishbone attack. The leading candidate is Tracey (actually Stacey) Robinson, whose total contribution last season was one pass (incomplete) and 46 yards rushing.”

The Sporting News and Don Heinrich’s College Football echo that thought, each listing Robinson as the top prospect for replacing graduate Marshall Taylor.

Three other names—John Ivanic, Adam Dach and Ron Delisi—appear often in the publications. The Sporting News and Heinrich both tab Ivanic, who made 15-of-19 field goal attempts last season, as the top independent placekicker. The Sporting News goes on to place the NIU junior as the 13th best foot in the nation.

After finishing second among freshman rushers last season (906 yards), Dach earned the respect of his opponents and the experts. Although he failed to make all of the preseason All-Independent squads, Dach is mentioned as a “powerhouse” who will be a key to NIU’s season.

Delisi, a senior linebacker whose 171 tackles were good for fifth in the country, is the consensus team leader on defense.

The Heinrich publication, which foresees a 6-5 record for the Huskies, also places offensive lineman Dan Smaha on its first-team All-Independent unit. That same magazine calls Jerry Pettibone the eighth best coach in the 13-team northern independent field. Pettibone receives his highest mark in recruiting (a 7 on a scale from 1-10) and gets his lowest in adaptability (5.5). Pettibone also ranks as No. 11 out of the 21 independent coaches listed.

In rating NIU as the seventh best team among the northern independents, Heinrich says, “Some big-league talent like Dach, Ivanic and Delisi could overmatch some minor-league competition.” The Sporting News is not as high on Jerry Pettibone’s team. TSN ranks NIU 20th among 25 overall independent squads.

The most interesting thing said about NIU may be what Ivan Maisel writes in his article, “Realign Now!” in Heinrich’s magazine. In the story, Maisel urges the NCAA to cut its Division I-A membership.

Maisel writes, “Mid-American and Big West: You belong in I-AA and you know it… Toss out all Independents named after a state and a compass (Northern Illinois, Southwestern Louisiana, East Carolina) and those named after minor-league cities.”

He also states, “How about financial prudence? Is there any sense in Akron, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Northern Illinois, all with mini-stadiums in the 30,000 region, competing in the same class as mega-seat, mega-buck Michigan, Miami and USC?”

And the only teams that should be permitted to be classified as I-A independent? Maisel suggests Cincinnati, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame and Southern Mississippi.