Relevant observations, pertinent notes, questions, minutiae, and Huskie Trivial Pursuit from your local, retired sports information director:
Opinion No. 1: It smells. Badly. No other way to describe it.
These self-interest Gold Rush conference realignments, the ever-changing college sports landscape. We all understand societal change is inevitable. But this chest-pounding, individualistic posturing, institutional positioning for the future, all under the guise of higher education, encroaches the border of ethical perniciousness.
Let’s see, in the span of a calendar year, TCU has matriculated from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East Conference and now to the Big 12 Conference which might be a Division I record. Whatever happened to monogamy or commitment (sorry to be so naive)? Someone please rationalize those moves to the undergrads in Introduction to Logic 101. Asked about the Big East move earlier, a TCU administrator was quoted, something to the effect: “Well, we do have airplanes now.”
In all this recent media speculation, you see or read very little discussion about Title IX or Olympic sports budgets. I love the major sports as much as anyone, but this is not a vacuum. For example, how does West Virginia pay for flying its women’s tennis team to a future Big 12 dual meet in Lawrence, Kan., or Ames, Iowa? With a struggling economy and diminishing state funding, what are these governing bodies, presidents, chancellors, and ADs thinking? In most cases, pieces of the league revenue-sharing pie won’t be growing larger soon. Maybe these elite BCS programs should just drop the pretense of “amateur athletics” and brand themselves as NFL-America.
Some of these NCAA machinations are turning people off – including this fan, the feds, and the IRS.
Question No. 1: In a decade, where does this leave the cash-strapped Mid-American Conference?
Opinion No. 2: Speaking of the MAC, did anyone hear about the recently announced, five-year television contract that the Missouri Valley Conference signed with ESPN? According to the news release, the agreement guarantees eight regular-season MVC men’s basketball national appearances a year on either ESPN or ESPN2. Not on ESPN3 or ESPN Pluto like some leagues we know.
Question No. 2: Can things get much worse for ex-Northern Illinois defensive end and first-round NFL draft choice Larry English? The third-year San Diego linebacker was placed injured reserve with a broken left foot. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound English injured the same foot last fall when he played in only eight games and underwent two subsequent surgeries. In three 2011 appearances, English had posted seven tackles and two QB sacks.
Congratulations No. 1: A well-deserved honor for Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish as a member of the prestigious 16-player 2011 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete class that entails an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and a Dec. 6 trip to New York City’s famous Waldorf-Astoria.
What a historic and awesome venue, rubbing elbows with college football’s elite and all-time greats in that ballroom. Two previous Huskies earned the same award – free safety Patrick Stephen (1998) and quarterback Josh Haldi (2004).
Congratulations No. 2: To former Northern Illinois men’s basketball assistant Ryan Marks – who enters his third season as head coach at Texas-Pan American – for his upcoming regular column in the print edition of “ESPN The Magazine.” The issue featuring his first column is on newsstands until Monday.
Since serving as an aide to Brian Hammel (1995-2000) and Andy Greer (2000-01), Marks was also the head coach at Southern Vermont College (57-29 record in 2001-04) and St. Edward’s (Tex.) (91-54 in 2004-09). UTPA plays at the NCAA D-I level and in the Great West Conference.
Opinion No. 3: What a classic finish for the Wisconsin-Michigan State football game Saturday night with the Hail Mary pass play with 0:00 left. To me, it was disappointing that both play-by-play man extraordinaire Brent Musberger and analyst Kirk Herbstreit seemed reluctant to make the call on the winning Michigan State touchdown – even after several replays – and for mispronouncing Spartans’ offensive coordinator (and former NIU quarterback and assistant) Dan Roushar’s (Note: row-sharr) surname at least twice during the cablecast.
My nitpicking aside, you have to wonder how soon Roushar and MSU defensive coordinator (and another former Joe Novak Huskie assistant) Pat Narduzzi will be FBS head coaches.
Question No. 3: Did I read correctly that Michigan State will visit Eastern Michigan in football at Rynearson Stadium in either 2018 or 2020? Good for EMU and the Ypsilanti community.
Say, isn’t it time for a Big Ten grid opponent to play at Huskie Stadium? Just asking.
Acknowledgment No. 1: Heartfelt thanks for all the thoughtful notes, cards, e-mails, phone calls, and condolences from many ex-colleagues, old friends, media types and people in the community on the passing of my mom recently. It is appreciated beyond words, believe me.
• Mike Korcek is a former Northern Illinois University sports information director. His historical perspective on NIU athletics appears periodically in the Daily Chronicle.