Created:Friday, January 1, 2010 12:14 a.m.CDT

International Bowl Notes: Brown doesn't make trip to Toronto

Former NIU football coach Joe Novak (1996-2007) speaks to the team Thursday as it prepares to play South Florida in the International Bowl on Saturday at Rogers Centre in Toronto. (Scott Walstrom – NIU Media Services)

TORONTO – Northern Illinois running back Me'co Brown did not make the trip to Toronto for the International Bowl because of a family issue, NIU coach Jerry Kill said after Thursday's practice at Rogers Centre.

Brown had also been battling shoulder and ankle injuries, and Kill added that even if Brown did make the trip, he wouldn't have played.

"We didn't bring Me'co. He wouldn't have played anyway because of his situation," Kill said. "He's got some personal issues at home that he needs to get taken care of."

Brown did not play in the regular season finale at Central Michigan because of ongoing ankle/shoulder injuries.

Old faces: There were some familiar people at NIU's practice on Thursday afternoon.

Former coach Joe Novak watched practice and spoke after to the team. Three former NIU players from Canada also spoke to the Huskies after practice.

"When I came to Northern Illinois I promised that I respect people that have done great things and they're good people," Kill said. "I respect coach Novak and I respect the players of the past. You don't forget the heritage and the culture of what the program is about."

Although Novak drew a huge ovation from the NIU players, former NIU defensive end/linebacker and Brampton, Ontario native Orlando Bowen gave an impassioned speech complete with new chants and cheers for the NIU players. Bowen's main theme of the speech was "One voice, one team."

"I think it's great to have some young men who from Canada who played here and coach here," Kill said. "It's a great thing for the players to see the feelings that these guys have had many years ago. I think it's nothing but good."

Check out for our newest video feature called "On the Wire" with left guard Jason Onyebuagu and his reaction to the speeches.

Kube won't start: Linebacker Alex Kube will not start Saturday's game because of a sprained knee. Kube worked out at Thursday's practice and is still questionable for the bowl game.

"You can usually tell by the movement and those kinds of things," Kill said. "But we'll work him out before the game and we'll see. I've seen things take place and all of a sudden you can go."

Freshman Tyrone Clark is listed behind Kube on the depth chart and will start in Kube's place.

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?