Created:Friday, October 1, 2010 11:46 p.m.CST

Take 2: Akron's celebration gives NIU extra motivation


Daily Chronicle sports editor John Sahly and sports reporter Jeremy Werner spend their days covering the area's sports scene. Every week, they give their viewpoint on those local sports.

Today, in the fifth installment of their NIU "Take 2" column, they discuss Saturday's Northern Illinois game at Akron.
Sahly: Jeremy, there are plenty of storylines coming into today's game, but let's talk about one thing. Why would Akron celebrate the five-year anniversary of its MAC-title winning team on the day the Huskies come to town? A lot of NIU fans consider that game one of the most devastating losses in school history.

Werner: Because it’s Homecoming at Akron and what other moment in Zips history are they going to celebrate to bring in fans? Domenik Hixon’s touchdown grab in the final seconds has been the high point of Akron’s 23 years in Division I, now Football Bowl Subdivision, and helped the Zips earn their first bowl bid. But you’re right, John. It seems like they’re trying to rub it in the faces of the Huskies. Probably not the smartest thing to do when your team is 0-4 and NIU is coming off a win at Minnesota.

Sahly: Exactly. Why give your opponent extra motivation? Football players and coaches live for the littlest of slights or "disrespect" and then make a huge deal out of it to get ready for the game. What defines disrespect is another discussion for another time, but poking the bear when you haven't won a game doesn't sounds like a good idea.

Werner: And it’s not like Akron is a respectable 0-4. The Zips were blown out by Syracuse and Kentucky and lost by two touchdowns to Indiana. The worst came when they lost in overtime to Gardner-Webb, a team not even ranked in the top-25 FCS rankings. I think Rob Ianello was a great hire for the Zips, but they still look several years away from competing for another MAC championship.

Will NIU football win the MAC this season?