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Open thread: NIU Orange Bowl

Friday, Dec 7, 2012

* It occurs to me that there may be several NIU grads out there who might want to gloat a bit about the Huskies

Dave LaCerra’s Mount Prospect basement is covered in Northern Illinois University football memorabilia, including a piece of the goal post from a big 1983 game (in which he played for the NIU Huskies), framed prints, a collection of hats from every NIU bowl game, and game ticket stubs stapled to the ceiling. This week, he added a small Christmas tree decorated with Huskies ornaments.

“I bleed Huskie red,” said LaCerra, 48.

Naturally, LaCerra will be traveling to Miami to watch NIU play Florida State in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.

Whether there’ll be enough Huskies fans to fill the other 17,499 seats allotted for NIU in Sun Life Stadium remains to be seen. On average, an NIU football game draws about 16,000 fans, a school spokeswoman said. The university has about 22,000 students, along with an estimated 190,000 alumni in the Chicago area alone.

Getting them to the team’s Bowl Championship Series debut isn’t a question of ticket price or availability. Student tickets are free, and non-student tickets start at $75. But booking a last-minute trip to Miami over the New Year’s holiday isn’t cheap, with airfare from Chicago to Miami running around $500 and rooms getting harder to find.

Anybody going?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Casey - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    I do not blame NIU for accepting the bid to the Orange Bowl - it is a $18,000,000 payout for the school.
    However, they are way out of their league and the game is going to be a rout.
    A nice reason to take a vaction to Florida during this crummy weather though.

  2. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    As an NIU alum, I am excited that they are going to the Orange Bowl. Any team can win on any given day (though FSU has to be favored). The travel packages are selling out, there are waiting lists for student busses. NIU should be okay travelling.

    And as far as going to the game, my inner Suze Orman got the best of me. $600 airfare to Miami or Fort Lauderdale is enough to say no.

    By the way Rich, you need to seek out the NIU pols alumni for reaction, Speaker Hastert, Congresswoman-elect Duckworth, Aldermen Arena, Fioretti and Munoz, etc :)

  3. - gathersno - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    I believe the Gov is going.

  4. - Doc - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:18 am:

    @Casey, NIU will not be receiving 18 million. The Mac conference gets around 8-9 million. NIU has to pay for thousands of tickets, hotel rooms, ect. They will be lucky to make a couple million from the bowl bid.

  5. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:19 am:

    Having been on the Athletic Board at NIU when I was a student (NIU 91) and having done some college radio sports while there (I dare you to have found a better women’s baseball color man in college radio in the nation who was a computer science major, dare you) it is nice to see this sort of success.

    We may get blown out, we may not, even if we do we are obviously at least the second best BCS football team in the state and have been for the last several years.

    With fewer resources and less media attention than the bigger school down south.

    When the won the championship game (a source of so much heartbreak in the past) my wife and I broke into the fight song much to my daughters embarrassment.

    Go Huskies

  6. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:20 am:


    The conference covers all costs then splits the money.

  7. - Cardinal fan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    FSU 77 NIU 3

  8. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    @OneMan, If they win the Orange Bowl, I can not wait to hear Bill Baker!

  9. - lincolnlover - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    Will be wearing my Huskies shirt, seated on the sofa in my living room, with my daughter, who will be wearing hers too!

  10. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:29 am:


    I think Bill would be able to fly home without an aircraft if that happens…

    Met him when I used to do radio, hell of a nice guy.

  11. - Bitterman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    Oh the nay-sayers. I vivdly recall that wonderous ‘07 Fiesta Bowl game wherein the unheralded Boise State Bronco’s bested the Oklahoma Sooners in overtime. Best finish to a bowl game I can recall. I’m a Saluki but will be rooting for the other dogs, the Huskies. (but no, I’m not going to Miami).

  12. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    @OneMan, he had a great interview with McNeil and Spiegel last Friday before the game, they lampooned him with his “GOODBYE TOLEDO!!!” yell.

  13. - shore - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    They’ll take a financial hit, but it will boost their profile.–from-elation–to-uncertainty-to-answering-the-critics–four-days-northern-illinois-will-never-forget-163247153.html

    It’s been fun to watch NIU develop over the last 15 years from LeShon Johnson and on up. I want to say denny hastert has his papers there or was an alum. Curious what those hotshot Illini fans think getting big timed by both northwestern and niu.

  14. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    Considering the crap football that man was forced to watch over the years…

    Wish I could find the Goodbye Toledo call

  15. - Wensicia - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:41 am:

    Good luck, NIU. You’ll need it.

  16. - Because I Say So... - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:43 am:

    I’m an NIU grad and they were awful back in my day. Great to see they have a winning program and wish them well in the Orange Bowl. Huck you Fuskies!

  17. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Can’t afford to go to Miami, but I’ll have my NIU flag waving. Go Huskies!

  18. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    @OneMan (sorry Rich, for the multiple posts), its at the end of this.

  19. - Casey - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    Hard to call them the 2nd best team in the state when they have not played the same schedule as the other teams in the state. Put ISU, UI, SIU in the MAC conference and then put NIU in the Big Ten and play that schedule and you will likely have a different set of outcomes.
    Remember that NIU lost to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, Iowa.

    Having said all that, I do hope the Huskies win, just to highlight the insanity of the BCS system.

  20. - Stones - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    I’m happy for NIU and esp. their alumni but I can’t imagine they will be much of a draw for the Orange Bowl. Never in a million years did I think I would see a mid major school play in a major bowl game like that!

  21. - Kane Conservative - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:03 am:

    The amount of hate out there over NIU is absurd. You play the schedule in front of you…NIU did that and won 12 games. It’s pretty simple…if Rutgers or Nebraska do their job, NIU would have been happily placed in a different bowl game. If you like college football, you will sit back and watch the Orange Bowl. If not, do something else. NIU Athletics is better for this, the sports world will continue to pay a different type of attention to Illinois into January, and a bunch of athletes who likely recognize their careers are terminal are forever bettered because of this unique experience.

  22. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:10 am:

    I think this may be the first time Liberal me and Kane Conservative have ever agreed on anything.

  23. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    I recall the Huskies going down to Tuscaloosa a few years back and beating Alabama, getting a Shula fired in the process.

    The haters like Herbie can stick it.

    Go Huskies.

  24. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:32 am:


    Yes, yes they did…

    As for ‘not at least the second best team in the state’..

    Computers, polls, coaches and sportswriters would likely disagree…

  25. - Frank - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:33 am:

    ==Hard to call them the 2nd best team in the state when they have not played the same schedule as the other teams in the state. Put ISU, UI, SIU in the MAC conference and then put NIU in the Big Ten and play that schedule and you will likely have a different set of outcomes.
    Remember that NIU lost to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten, Iowa.===

    As an Illinois alum, I think its safe to say NIU is at worst #2 out of the three teams in Illinois that play in the FBS this year. That was the worst Illini team I can remember since the late 90’s.

  26. - Endangered Moderate Species - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 11:58 am:

    After suffering through the Illini this season, I am glad we have a State school to pull for during the BCS Bowls. They certainly can do no worse than the Illini have during their last two BCS Bowl trips. Maybe NIU can schedule a MAC home game next year in Memorial Stadium and give us a reason to cheer. Beckman’s team was the worst Illini team in decades.

  27. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 12:00 pm:

    NIU alum Rick Davis appears slow to respond,but we are sure he would say don’t count the Huskies out so quickly…Florida schools are always overrated and who know how many of their players will be free on bond come game day?

  28. - Casey - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    “Beckman’s team was the worst Illini team in decades. ”

    I can remember Illinois playing Northwestern to a 0 - 0 tie during the Gary Moeller era… THAT was bad football.

  29. - Jake L - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 12:28 pm:

    I think NIU is going to win. and it will be THE sports story of the day and the year (well, it is on January 1)

  30. - RookiePhenom - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 12:47 pm:

    NIU Alumn (’08), and while I don’t expet much to come out of this (it may be a beating but I want them to win by 1), at least the ride was worth the opportunity to be nationally known (for better or for worse).

    Personally, I’ll be in Sunny California watching the game. Tickets were booked in September.


    Go Huskies.

  31. - win - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    I am going. Flying from Milwaukee to Ft. Lauderdale for $350. Hotel is $100/night in Ft. Lauderdale.

    NIU has beaten as many ranked teams this year as Florida State has. I’m just sayin’.

  32. - Endangered Moderate Species - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 1:24 pm:

    Casey- The Moeller year was a bad one, but at least that team could play Northwestern to a tie. Today, Northwestern is the top program in the State and the Illini wish they could play them to a tie. Go Huskies!!

  33. - OneMan - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    RookiePhenom 08? Damn I feel old, You would have been in Kindergarten when I graduated…

  34. - dave - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 1:35 pm:

    **Never in a million years did I think I would see a mid major school play in a major bowl game like that!**

    I guessed you missed Boise State over the last several years.

  35. - NIU1987 - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:20 pm:

    I’ve got my plane tickets to Miami from Denver!

    Does anyone know which corner of the stadium is NIUs ticket allotment and which is FSU’s?

  36. - Law Dude - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    Undergrad at U of I (03) and law school at NIU (08). Never would have guessed that my interest in college football would have drifted from U of I to NIU as much as it has over the years. It does feel good to root for a team that over-performs rather than the opposite. Still trying to crunch the numbers, but Florida over New Year’s is costly. The alumni associations have good deals on tickets, but airfare and hotels are the problem. I would love to go if I can make it work. If not, where’s the best watch party?

  37. - the Patriot - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:14 pm:

    Not goin, but maybe the Guv can fix the pension problem by selling commemorative tissues to the SEC and Other AQ schools nixed for NIU.

  38. - Norseman - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 3:34 pm:

    === NIU1987 - I’ve got my plane tickets to Miami from Denver!

    Does anyone know which corner of the stadium is NIUs ticket allotment and which is FSU’s?===

    The northside?

    I’m happy that you’re able to attend. Cheer extra loud for me and the others who are stuck here in Illinois.

  39. - Capitol View - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:30 pm:

    I’m a ‘69 NIU grad –I checked into the NIU packages for transportation, and all three are already filled. If they add another charter flight or two, I’ll be there.

    Hey, Cardinal fan who predicts an FSU rout — give me 20 points (a third of your predicted margin), and we’re on for a sawbuck.

    For the NIU non-believers — please check the rankings in today’s papers HIU is #15 or so, their FSU opponent is #12. Sounds like a good game to me. An NIU win would be a wonderful end to a Boise State type season for those who have noticed NIU — MAC Conference football champ for the second year in a row.

    FYI - check out their sports other than football and basketball. They have numerous conference and even national titles. Upgrade their basketball team, and NIU is ready to join the Big Ten - or Big 14 - or whatever they should be called.

  40. - NIU Alum - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:37 pm:

    NIU alum ‘89 and in Huskie Marching Band. They’ve come a long way since Marshall Taylor left, Marshall Taylor right, incomplete pass, punt.

    Can’t wait to watch the game from the comfort of our family room!

  41. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 4:51 pm:

    Well said, EMS from a long-suffering Illini alum.

    Go Huskies!

  42. - amalia - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 5:18 pm:

    Congrats, NIU. and I thought I read that NIU is making tickets available to students for free if they pick them up in Fla. that is way cool.

  43. - Lt Guv - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:04 pm:

    This is awesome. ‘85 grad who’s continued to follow as they’ve developed into a really good program. Going to the game with a group of 5. Air was expensive, but who knows if the chance will every occur again. Huck ‘em Fuskies!

  44. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:39 pm:

    Anyone want to start any anti Toledo chants?

  45. - DRB - Friday, Dec 7, 12 @ 6:54 pm:

    Go Huskies. I hope they win and become our version of Boise State.

  46. - JLR - Monday, Dec 10, 12 @ 12:18 pm:

    Now living in Florida, I can’t wait to wear my new NIU T-Shirt, and take on all those FSU fans that live around me. I’ll be going out with some oranges to toss their way!

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