Orange Bowl bringing everyone together

By Matt Hopkinson

NIU has received a lot of unwarranted bashing from multiple sources for its Orange Bowl bid.

The guru’s at ESPN believe it’s a joke, not a great story and that NIU doesn’t belong in the Orange Bowl. Meanwhile, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been reflecting on his day’s when he played for the California Golden Bears.

While Rodgers was more of a shot at the system as a whole, he used NIU’s existence in the bowl game as a sticking point for emphasis on why the system is broken.

And yes, it’s true, the system is rather broken and corrupt. The only way an overlooked and under-appreciated team from a smaller conference, such as NIU and the MAC, could rub elbows with the timber and tobacco that is the BCS, is by getting in through a rule thrown in to avoid anti-trust lawsuits.

It’s more akin to an older brother making his younger brother be his personal servant for a week just to get to hang out with him. It’s demeaning, it’s thankless, and when the end-result finally happens, no one really wants you there anyway.

The Huskies, however, have done nothing wrong. They obviously did everything right. They were one point away from a perfect season, and everyone knows if they play Iowa in the middle of the season that is an entirely different game.

Between winning a conference championship and losing a coach, the highs and lows were put in to one weekend, culminating with the biggest announcement in the school’s athletic history.

With a coach who’s never led the show before, a team that’s never been clamored for this much attention and a team at the level they’ve rarely seen, NIU has had a lot of new experiences.

But it’s in that same vein that bares good things for NIU. What better way to get experience coaching, playing or handling yourself as a player is there than a national bowl game?

Seniors that are NFL-hopeful get great game experience, returning players get experience in nearly every possible venue, and coach Rod Carey can claim the first BCS Bowl game in NIU’s history.

NIU did not apologize for their selection; they celebrated together as a team. Their conference recognized their great achievement and is attempting to make sure they do not experience financial backlash as a result of this achievement.

This bowl game is apparently much more than football, as it has rallied a team, a school, a conference and a nation of doubters and naysayers around one singular event.