Season goals set for upcoming campaign


The Northern Illinois football program held its third annual Huskie Huddle luncheon Tuesday afternoon at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building, and the big topic was, of course, the Big West Conference.

“I am excited about the opportunities that we have obviously going into the Big West Conference,” said head coach Charlie Sadler.

The addition of NIU to the Big West has many people, including players, coaches and media excited. The chance to receive an automatic bowl bid is a major reason for the excitement and a major advantage to joining the conference. Obviously being the representative in the bowl game is Sadler’s expectation for the team.

“I’ve put this football team on the line,” said Sadler. “Our expectations are to win the Big West Conference. That’s our number one goal. I know this team will not settle for anything less than to be in Las Vegas Dec. 17 playing in that bowl game.”

Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell is excited about the expansion of the Big West to include NIU. It’s a great way to celebrate not only NIU’s 25th anniversary as a Division I-A college, but the Big West’s 25th anniversary as a conference.

“This is going to be an exciting year for the Big West,” said Farrell. “This is probably the most momentous year we’ve had in the 25-year history of the conference.”

Farrell is looking to attract more eastern schools to the pool to bring the conference to 12 teams. The idea is to create two divisions and have a championship to decide who will represent the conference in the Las Vegas Bowl. But will this truly still be the Big West? Of course it will.

“You have my word that we will always stay west of the British Isles,” said Farrell.

This year’s special guest was Tom Shaer, the sports anchor of WMAQ-TV and radio talk show host on WSCR-AM. Shaer came out highly supportive of the move to the new conference and very excited about the upcoming season.

“We (the Chicago area media) think it’s very exciting and it’s a great move that Northern Illinois decided to go into the Big West,” said Shaer. “The decision to do that will reap benefits for this university not only this year, when I believe you (NIU) will be in Las Vegas, but also in years to come.

“Northern gets a better bang for its buck than many programs that are similar to Northern Illinois.”

LeShon Johnson also had an opportunity to present his goals or predictions for the 1993 campaign.

“I hope he (Sadler) gives me the ball about 25-30 times a game,” said Johnson. “I’m looking for 1,800 yards, and if I rush over 1,500, I’m taking them (the offensive line) out to dinner.”

Johnson also added later that he expects to catch about five passes per game.

The player that Shaer expects to be recognized nationwide along with Johnson, quarterback Scott Crabtree, had a chance to speak on his summer spent in DeKalb working on his game.

“It was great for me, and great for the coaches,” said Crabtree. “I wanted to make a commitment to get better as a football player.”

So what can fans expect from the improved QB?

“This year I’ll have more patience,” he said. “I can read the defenses and I’ll know where my receivers will be.”

There are quite a few pre-season publications that are showing respect for NIU. They have picked the Huskies to go to the Las Vegas Bowl and have seven or eight all-conference players. This should have Huskie fans in an uproar.

“I have never seen a feeling as strong as I do now that Northern Illinois is ready to make THE move,” said Shaer. “To get this kind of respect tells me that this program is ready to take the next step.”