This season brings forth a new era in college football.
The BCS (which, seriously, wasn’t so bad) is history, and in its place comes the College Football Playoff, something fans have been clamoring for seemingly forever.
The 2014 season also brings about a new era in Northern Illinois football. The past two seasons brought together the best two-year stretch in school history. A BCS bowl berth, Mid-American Conference championship, three victories over BCS schools, a 12-0 start which put the Huskies on the cusp of a second consecutive BCS game, not to mention a Heisman Trophy finalist.
However, the Jordan Lynch era, as good as it was, is behind us. The odds are we’ll never see a player like him in DeKalb again. Lynch bailed the Huskies out of tough situations so often over the past two years at NIU’s starter. Seeing him bounce off tacklers and put together highlight-reel plays in last year’s game against Ball State are two situations which come to mind.
Regardless of the fact that Lynch is no longer in DeKalb, there’s plenty of optimism for the future of both NIU and college football in general.
Let’s start with the new playoff system, which is great. Sure, the BCS had its detractors and rightfully so. At the same time, look at how things were before. The BCS finally pitted No. 1 against No. 2 on a consistent basis, and for the most part got things right. It also paved the way for mid-major programs like NIU to make it into major bowl games.
Yet things will be better under the College Football Playoff. Teams 1 through 4 deserve to have things settled on the field, first of all. It will also bring back the significance of New Year’s Day, which is when the two semifinal games will be played at the Rose and Sugar Bowls, respectively.
In terms of the Huskies, thing still look bright without Lynch. One positive aspect of the College Football Playoff is the top-ranked conference champion from the “Group of Five” getting a major bowl berth.
With the momentum from the past few seasons (with all that’s happened since, the 2011 MAC title seems like a decade ago), the Chessick Practice Center (which was completed last season), the good recruiting classes, not to mention the schedule NIU athletic director Sean Frazier has put together, things are looking good at Huskie Stadium.
Maybe it doesn’t happen this season, but I don’t see any reason why the Huskies can’t be in contention for that Group of Five bid in the future.
The next few years should be a good time, whether your an NIU fan or college football fan in general.
• Steve Nitz is a sports reporter for the Daily Chronicle and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.