FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Northern Illinois quarterbacks coach Bob Cole took the podium at Saturday's Orange Bowl press conference. Normally, this spot is reserved for the offensive coordinator, but with head coach Rod Carey in that role, Cole was in the spotlight.
He talked about his reaction when it was reported that NIU was headed to the Orange Bowl, which drew a nice laugh from the group of reporters in attendance.
"I was getting texts at like two o'clock, three o'clock in the afternoon saying 'you're going to the Orange Bowl. I was like 'Hell no we aren't going to the Orange Bowl.' Then when I saw it on TV I actually believed it," Cole said. "For what it did for our players and for our community, our school, it's been phenomenal. They've got signs all over the place on the street back home, go Huskies and good luck in the Orange Bowl."
Other notes from Saturday's news conference:
• Obviously, Cole was asked about NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch. One thing Cole did say is that he thinks his record-setting QB has the ability to play in the NFL.
"Russell Wilson doing what he's doing in Seattle and the smaller-type quarterbacks and the NFL going to more of a spread deal, I think it sets up perfect for him," Cole said.
• Cole didn't underestimate how much playing in the Orange Bowl has impacted recruiting in South Florida. Cole recruits the Florida panhandle and south Alabama.
"I think it's been huge for the program. We're down here in south Florida, we're in the panhandle, we're in south Alabama and some of our best players on the team are from this area and that area," Cole said. "With us coming down here and doing that, playing in the Orange Bowl, it's just amazing what it'll do as far as recruiting goes. We're getting phone calls from everybody now wanting to come to our place and finally getting our name out there nationwide. So it's been unreal."
• One of the perks players get for playing in any bowl game, and especially a game such as the Orange Bowl, are the bowl gifts they receive.
One of the items tight end Jason Schepler picked up was a digital camera.
"They've got a lot of awesome things we can choose from," he said. "We've got a lot of nice watches. They had a lot of electronics that we could choose from, headphones, TVs, stuff like that, recliner chairs. There were a lot of good selections."
• Earlier this week, Carey said former NIU head coach Dave Doeren would be attending the Orange Bowl, and said he had heard Jerry Kill would be there as well. Joe Novak will also be attending the game.
For NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch, who played for both Kill and Doeren, having them at the game is big.
"It means a lot. From Coach Novak to Coach Kill to Coach Doeren, they really helped this program out, they really built the program," Lynch said. "We'd love to see them there."