The Daily Chronicle's Jeremy Werner answers your NIU and MAC-related questions right here. Look for a new installment of questions and answers each Thursday. Submit your questions to Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at www.twitter.com/huskiewire.
Following is the Nov. 4 transcript:
Question from Joe Los:
It appears that the Big East is looking to expand especially in football. Does Northern have any chance to get into the Big East?
Jeremy Werner: Joe, sorry to disappoint but I just don’t see it. First, goegraphically it doesn’t make. NIU already is in the western frontier of the Mid-American Conference. The closest school in the Big East, Cincinnati, is more than 350 miles away. South Florida is 1,025 miles away and Connecticut is 1,032 miles away. The travel bill would be astronomically higher with NIU having to fly to all but maybe two schools.
Also, I don’t think NIU is MAC team most likely to go to the Big East. Temple, whose contract with the MAC expires after this season, could remake its case to the Big East, which kicked Temple out in 2004 for poor attendance and lack of competitiveness and commitment to football. NIU might need a few dominant years in the MAC before the power conferences come calling. I expect expansion talks to heat up again this offseason or next. And while I don’t see the MAC being impacted by any of it – besides Temple leaving – you never know how the dominoes may fall.
Question from Eric Albrecht:
How many more wins does NIU need to jump into the top 25? I would like to think if we beat a good Toledo team on national television an 8-2 record would be good enough. I'm also surprised to see UCF get more votes than us. Who have they beat or is this a case of lack of respect for the MAC? We have a better record than them, better wins than them, and a BCS win (albeit against a bad team). One of our better wins (Temple) has a better record than them.
Take a serious look at the teams they have beat (Marshall, UAB, Rice, South Dakota, Buffalo). If we don’t deserve more votes then they definitely don’t.
Werner: Eric, I don’t think a win over Toledo, even a convincing one, vaults them into the top-25 in two weeks. The losses to Iowa State and Illinois still hurt them in voters’ minds and a win over Minnesota – though still an unquestionably great win for the Huskies’ program – looks less and less impressive each week.
I think Huskies fans will have to be patient and let things play out in the polls. The power conference teams will beat each other up. So two-loss teams like No. 22 Baylor, No. 24 Florida State or No. 17 Arkansas may have four losses when all is said and done. I could also see teams like Hawaii (7-2), Syracuse (6-2), Illinois (5-3) and Northwestern (6-2) rise in the rankings before NIU.
But if the Huskies can win out the regular season, I think they’ll be in good position. They might not be in the polls at that point, but they’ll be on the doorstep. I’d think a win in the MAC Championship game would vault them into the rankings. So they still have some work to do but could find an opening by the end of the month.
Question from Patrick Eversole:
Basketball: What will it take to get Ricardo Patton fired? Can we expect any post season play?
Football: What are the bowl scenarios that could play out? For example, winning the MAC West, winning the MAC, etc. My guess is the Little Caesars' Pizza Bowl is the goal, then the GoDaddy.com bowl, followed by the Humantarian Bowl. All would be great, I even think the Papajohns.com Bowl is a possiblity if the Big East won't have a representative. Did I miss any?
Werner: Patrick, NIU athletic director Jeff Compher backed his men's hoops coach yesterday – former AD Jim Phillips hired Patton – but said he wants to see improvement. Patton still has two years left on his contract and buying out the last year could be pricey for a school that doesn't exactly have Fort Knox in the basement of the Convocation Center.
Still, I think Patton has to show some kind of marked improvement, whether its subjective (competing against power conference teams) or objective (more than 10 wins for the first time in his tenure).
As for football bowl games, we discussed this a little in last week's Q&A but I'll gladly do a quick refresher course.
The MAC affiliate bowls are The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (vs. the Big Ten) in Detroit; the GoDaddy.com Bowl (vs. Sun Belt) in Mobile, Ala.; and the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (vs.WAC) in Boise, Idaho. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl has the first choice of MAC teams followed by the GoDaddy.com Bowl and then the Humanitarian Bowl. The MAC also has secondary agreements with the Dallas Football Classic and the Birmingham Bowl (formerly PapaJohns.com Bowl).
Even if the Huskies win the MAC Championship, it does not guarantee them a spot in The Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, which may choose to invite a regional team that can bring more fans (i.e. Toledo or Ohio). But a 10-plus win season would almost definitely land NIU in one of the MAC affiliate bowls. Of course, the Huskies would love to play BCS automatic-qualifying team in the Dallas Football Classic (Big Ten vs. Big 12) or the Birmingham Bowl (Big East vs. SEC) if AQ teams don't qualify.