Media rankings of NIU shaky and scattered

By Jarrod Rice

Some magazines just don’t do their research.

It’s pretty evident while reading college football season previews that most publications know one thing about NIU: we have Garrett Wolfe.

Not to say that the star running back doesn’t deserve the attention, but the Huskies are not as one-dimensional as it would seem.

Sports Illustrated has NIU ranked 60th out of the 119 Division I-A teams. That puts the Huskies in the bottom half of teams in the country.

Richard Deitsch, who compiled Sports Illustrated’s list, probably didn’t take into account the Huskies have a solid D-line and one of the best offensive lines in the country.

He probably didn’t like the looks of the quarterback situation (if he bothered to look), but junior Phil Horvath, whom coach Joe Novak chose Tuesday as his No. 1 man, will surely be more than adequate.

Sporting News gives NIU a little more respect with a ranking of 47, but its assessment also seems to be a little off.

And though they acknowledged NIU’s quarterback situation, they were a little misguided.

Sporting News put Horvath in the same league as Bowling Green’s Omar Jacobs and Toledo’s Bruce Gradkowski calling them “big-time quarterbacks.”

Considering that it took Horvath this long to win the starting job for NIU, I wouldn’t call him big time just yet.

Not only were many of the Huskies’ strengths missed, but their weaknesses were ignored.

In its Mid-American Conference breakdown, Sporting News had NIU’s defensive backs and linebackers rated second and third best in the conference, respectively.

This was probably written before linebacker Javan Lee went down, but even so, those are generous projections.

The Huskies’ secondary suffered two big hits with losing starting free safety Lionel Hickenbottom and cornerback Rob Lee, and will have young and inexperienced linebackers.

Sports Illustrated’s rankings show the Huskies will just have to prove themselves once again, which seems to happen every year now.

Most magazines did get a couple things right this year, though. They know Bowling Green is a definite top 25 team, and maybe most importantly: they put the Huskies ahead of the Illini.