Takin’ Care of Business

By Sean Connor

How many NIU graduates have the chance to make a run at the NFL while Price Waterhouse Cooper is waiting on their doorstep?

Never mind what the numbers might be. Former NIU quarterback Josh Haldi has lived the statistic.

“PWC was very understanding of my situation,” said Haldi of the major international accounting firm. “The recruiting coordinator gave me a call, and instead of interning, they told me I could come back anytime.”

After working out at this year’s NFL combine, the Cincinnati Bengals picked up Haldi as a free agent after the NFL Draft.

Haldi went into camp as the No. 3 quarterback. But when the Chicago Bears let Craig Krenzel go and the Bengals picked up the Ohio State graduate, Haldi knew his time was up.

“I realized it’s all about the situation you get in,” Haldi said. “When you bring in a Craig Krenzel, it’s tough to stick around as a free agent. “Unfortunately I had to see the business side of the NFL, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

After his short-lived stint in the l eague, Haldi has returned to NIU.

The former First-Team MAC All-Academic selection takes 11 credit-hours, which will give him 150 at the end of the semester – enough to put him back on track to take the Certified Public Accountant exam within the next year.

“I’m going to help PWC get through the tax season, starting in January in Chicago, and begin studying over the summer for the exam,” Haldi said.

Compiling a 25-8 record at NIU, Haldi threw for 6,015 yards on 427 of 776 attempts, 55 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

During the 2004 season, Haldi went 94-179 and passed for 1,384 yards. He tossed 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in leading NIU to a 34-21 triumph over Troy University in the Silicon Valley Football Classic last year.

It was NIU’s first bowl game since winning the 1983 California Bowl. ESPN named Haldi its Player of the Game.

However, not all of the former quarterback’s senior season went as planned.

Current NIU quarterback Phil Horvath was asked to take over the offensive at Maryland in last year’s season opener after Haldi took himself out due to a right foot stress fracture he suffered during the summer.

Horvath went 72-123 and threw for 954 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions while starting three games last season in Haldi’s absence.

Despite the fact Horvath threw for fewer yards two weeks ago against Michigan than NIU rushed for in the game, Haldi believes his former understudy is the man for the job.

“I thought Phil grew up a lot last year in those four games,” Haldi said about Horvath’s transition from interim starting quarterback to the full-time role. “They’re not going to miss a beat from last year.”

In the meantime, Horvath said he and Haldi have had a few brief conversations in NIU’s weight room, but most of it was just small talk.

“More than anything, Josh taught me how to be a good leader and to take care of the ball,” Horvath said. “Those were his strengths. Our bread and butter is running the ball, but we wanted to open up on Northwestern a bit since they were putting nine men in the box.”

One of only eight major-college recipients of the prestigious National Football Foundation-College Football Hall of Fame National Scholar-Athlete Award, Haldi said he wouldn’t rule out a return.

But for now, his football days are on hold.