T.J. Simers

Northern Illinois in Orange Bowl? Eat Huskies' dust, Herbstreit!

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How quickly Herbstreit forgets who won the GoDaddy.com Bowl last year.

Wait until our QB Jordan Lynch wins the Heisman, Herbie!

NIU lost the opener by a point and then won 12 straight. Had the Huskies won the opener everyone would be clamoring for a Notre Dame-NIU title game.

In fact NIU is offering a free ticket to each student going to the Orange Bowl, knowing how disappointed they must be to get Florida State as an opponent.

"I'm so proud of Northern," says Colletti, who remembers rougher times as a '76 Black & Red grad. "Why is everyone outraged? All Northern did was play exciting football."

Colletti, who is No. 52 on a list of notable alumni, could not think of anyone more notable until asking, "Wasn't Julia Roberts from there?"

She went to Georgia State, but you can see where a young man's mind might go when surrounded by nothing but corn in DeKalb where NIU is located.

Phil Kadner, class of '74, is the second most famous journalist from NIU. He couldn't remember any notable alumni but mentioned Cindy Crawford. Over and over again.

"She went to DeKalb high, so that counts in NIU's favor,'' says Kadner, who writes a muckraking column for the Southtown Something Or Other outside Chicago.

Now I spent four years at NIU without graduating, but I lived a block away from Cindy's high school, so we were close.

I looked up the definition of "alumnus," and it's not important, boys and girls, if you graduate. You're still an alumnus if you spent any time in school, and so they have me listed under "football" among their notable alumni.

I guess flag football was bigger at NIU than I thought.

Now while I had Kadner, I was curious what folks back there think about UCLA and USC.

"I've spent 30 years writing about politics in one of the most corrupt places in the country and it's not nearly as bad as my experiences with college athletics," he says, and so I had to stop him and tell him I wasn't talking just about USC, but UCLA as well.

"Why would anyone care about schools like that when we have a football powerhouse going to the Orange Bowl?" Kadner says.

The Orange Bowl, of course, is big on entertainment every year. Why not have NIU alumnus Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, broadcast the game like Homer might?

Or have NIU grad Wood Harris, the hard-hitting linebacker known as Big Ju in "Remember The Titans," lead our underdogs onto the field dancing as the Titans did.

Let's really make it an absolute joke and a sad state of football for the serious fogies who think bowl games are more sacred than bonus fun.

Maybe Cindy & Julia might agree to come as cheerleaders; then tell me folks won't be happy to see NIU in the Orange Bowl.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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