Show them some respect

By Chris Jurmann

It’s easy to be disappointed with the way the NIU football season finished. After losses to Bowling Green and Toledo, I can’t help but wonder how good this team truly is.

It has made Saturday’s matchup with Eastern Michigan virtually worthless, or so it seems.

It would be very easy to sleep in on Saturday and find out about the game later. But the team deserves better. And as fans, we should show them that loyalty.

With a win Saturday, the Huskies will have their first 10-win season since 1983. Do you realize how long ago 1983 truly was? To put it into perspective, 47 players on the current NIU roster were born in 1983 or later.

This team is building a special program at NIU for years to come. With all the recruiting and player development the Huskies plan to achieve in the future, everyone will look back on this season as the reason the team has been able to achieve and grow so much.

This is the season where the team ranked as high as No. 12 in the country. This is the team that got regular airplay from virtually every major sports media outlet including Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, ESPN, New York Times and USA Today.

NIU became so strong that we were able to get the biggest college football TV show in the country, ESPN’s “College GameDay,” to show up for the showdown with Bowling Green. This team almost was responsible for bringing the BCS to its knees, had they completed an undefeated finish.

There are many things worth watching in the final game that simply can’t be passed up. If nothing else, people need to be there to cheer on the seniors who have given their all to build this team up.

These are the players you know and have rooted for week-to-week – names like P.J. Fleck, our big-time wide receiver; Steve Azar, who could be the best kicker in college football; Randee Drew, my pick for the team’s most valuable player on defense; and the injured Nick Duffy.

Even the less heralded players who never received the attention they deserved – like the injured Akil Grant, Leonard Cooksey, Jason Frank and Keith Perry – need to be honored for the time they put into NIU football.

And let’s not forget we still have the nation’s leading rusher, Michael Turner, who will play his final game for the Huskies. Turner helped lead the rush of attention that brought this school to prominence as the year took off.

There is so much to be proud of, and it would be a shame to see the “typical” 15,000 show up Saturday. I know DeKalb and NIU now have a fan base too loyal to do that to its team in the final game of the best year ever to be a Huskies fan.