Just typing out loud.
Point No. 1: So where do you think Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch should spend December 14? Me? I firmly believe No. 6 should be establishing Huskie history as our first finalist at the 79th annual Heisman Trophy presentation in New York. Who fits the Heisman criteria any better than Lynch?
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” according to the Heisman official website. “Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”
If you’ve seen Lynch play, you recognize the unique physical and mental intangibles, the quiet leadership (i.e., the impressive 99-yard drive at Toledo Wednesday night). Statistics? Name five more productive FBS quarterbacks this year or the last two. Records? Winning streaks? National rankings? BCS ratings? Previous Heisman exposure? Lynch has it all. Except. Yes, except.
No matter how much the NIU football program has accomplished the last ten years (six Mid-American Conference West Division crowns, back-to-back MAC titles, the Orange Bowl and six other bowl appearances, winning 45 of its last 53 games, new sparkling state-of-the-art facilities, et al), there’s the dreaded curse of the directional school and mid-major. Anybody remember the 2012 ESPN Bowl Selection Show?
Media bias? I know firsthand. Sadly, it’s usually highly prevelant in this process.
Around this time in 1993, the four best single-season NCAA Division 1-A (FBS) rushing seasons in college football history belonged to Oklahoma’s Barry Sanders (2,628 yards in 1988), Southern Cal’s Marcus Allen (2,342 in 1981), Nebraska’s Mike Rozier (2,148 in 1983), and NIU’s LeShon Johnson (1,976 in 1993). Guess which one of this foursome didn’t win the Heisman or even get invited to New York?
Sorry, in my opinion, LeShon got robbed. He deserved the New York trip. Big time. NIU's first and only unanimous First-Team 1-A (FBS) All-America did finish sixth in the Heisman balloting that year with 176 points and five first-place votes in relative obscurity. Imagine if LeShon played on an 11-0 Top 20 team with three consecutive national TV games on ESPN2 at voting time?
Advantage, Lynch. More Heisman voters, media, coaches than ever have all seen No. 6 play – more than the “Cowboy” in 1993. Lynch does the Big Apple. Top five pick. No brainer.
Point No. 2: Not only has ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit done a 180-degree swing from last year’s on-air anti-Huskie tantrum, check out these “props” from, of all places, Champaign, where FBS football is on sabbatical.
“In all my years as (a) Heisman voter, Lynch is the closest thing to Doug Flutie,” wrote veteran staffer Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette this week. “The Huskies deserve another BCS bid and will play much better this time.”
And, thanks to Asmussen, one man’s ultimate Northern Illinois 2013 season validation. “If Northern Illinois was in the Big Ten this year, it would be right behind Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin,” he added.
Chew on that revelation, human BCS voters and computers.
Point No. 3: For all the pre-Orange Bowl heat that Jordan Lynch took for his comments about the effects of NIU’s no-huddle offense vs. Florida State last year, a third party did notice at the Glass Bowl Wednesday.
“He’s (Lynch) a special player,” Toledo head coach Matt Campbell told the Toledo Blade afterwards. “He’s elusive, he makes plays, he’s strong. He doesn’t wear down. I think that’s the difference right now between him and us. He never wore down in the game and we did.”
Point No. 4: When did ESPN analyst Desmond Howard start sipping the Rocket Kool-Aid? How many times did the former Michigan star and 1991 Heisman Trophy recipient talk about UT’s offensive line dominating the game?
Toledo played a decent first half, but no Rocket finished with 100 rushing yards while NIU featured two 100-yard ground-gainers. Desmond, you check the final stats? NIU produced 566 yards total offense, plus outgained UT in rushing first downs (19-13), rushing yards (364-194), and rushing touchdowns (5-0). Who dominated whom? Objectivity, dude.
Point No. 5: The Best Jordan Lynch Headline of the Week appeared on the front sports page of the late edition in Thursday’s Chicago Tribune. Just two words and a memorable pun: “Jordan Rules.”
Point No. 6: I know Mr. Herbstreit – noted Ohio State alum – is trying to play “Mr. Nice Guy” this season, but when I spotted this trivial note, I just could not resist (again). Remember Jordan Lynch’s amazing escape artist play in the Ball State showdown when 6-foot-3, 236-pound Cardinal senior defensive end Jonathan Newsome (No. 11) was literally riding on his back and Lynch freed himself for a first down on the west sidelines?
Newsome, a Second-Team All-MAC pick in 2012, played two years for the Buckeyes before transferring to BSU.
Fill out that Heisman ballot, Herby.
Point No. 7: Perspective is everything. Toledo Blade beat writer Ryan Autullo previewed the NIU-UT football game as a “one-sided rivalry” and quoted Rocket offensive guard Greg Mancz about the recent Huskie winning ways in the series.
“It’s been the most painful feeling the past four years,” Mancz said.
Yes, son, it has. Long-time Huskie fans understand. Since the Joe Novak era, it always seems the MAC West title wound up being decided in this matchup. As someone who saw UT great Chuck Ealey (1969-71) play or the disheartening 33-30 setback to the Rockets in 2002 or Toledo running up a 70-21 score in 2007, those hurt, too.
The Rockets still lead the all-time series, 29-12, and 18-4 in Toledo. There's still a little "evening up" to do.
Point No. 8: To reiterate, WSCR-AM radio dropped Northern Illinois football (11-0 / 7-0 MAC) for Illinois (3-7 / 0-6 Big Ten)? Think about it.
Point No. 9: Can anybody remember two more important back-to-back Huskie football triumphs than Ball State and Toledo in the last eight days? When you consider what was at stake – (1) the MAC West and (2) the BCS rankings. And on national television.
There's the must-win Toledo and Ohio home games in 1983, but no TV. Alabama and Iowa State back-to-back in 2003, but those were non-conference. Maybe Western Illinois and Central Michigan en route to 10-0 in 1963, but that's College Division. This was the week that was.
Point 10: Thanks, Huskies.