Northern Illinois University running back Chad Spann will be playing for the Nation in the NFL Players Association Game: Texas vs. the Nation. He opted to play in this more established game, now in its fourth year, rather than participate in the inaugural Eastham Energy College All-Star game. Spann will be the second Huskie to play in the game as Eddie Adamski represented the Huskies on the Nation last year.
Spann is one of three running backs on the Nation's roster
and the only player from the Mid-American Conference.
The game will be played Feb.5, 2011 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CST. In the four-year history of the game, more than 400 players have played in the NFL Players Association Game have singed NFL contracts. Former Atlanta Falcon head coach Jerry Glanville will coach the Nation.
Northern Illinois gets a little love from Tom Dienhart, Rivals.com Senior College Football Writer in his column reviewing/previewing the MAC
. The Huskies earned the nod for best bowl performance for their 40-17 victory over Fresno State in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. He also calls Northern Illinois a "the bellwether program" of the MAC for its third straight bowl appearance.
Jake Coffman has been named to another all-bowl team. Coffman was one of two defensive ends in the nation to be named to ESPN.com's 2010 All-Bowl Team
. He joins Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward, Auburn's Nick Fairley, and Corey Liuget of Illinois on ESPN.com's front four after his performance against Fresno State in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. This is the second all-bowl team honor for Coffman. Earlier this week, he was named to CollegeFootballNews.com's 2010 All-Bowl Team.
The post-bowl honors continue to roll in for the Northern Illinois University football team. Center Scott Wedige was named to the Rivals.com 2010 All-Bowl Team
. CollegeFootballNews.com handed out it's honors this week
Quarterback Chandler Harnish and defensive end Jake Coffman were named to the CFN All-Bowl Team. Harnish beat out the likes of Stanford's Andrew Luck and Cam Newton of Auburn by virtue of his performance against Fresno State in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. Harnish threw for 300 yards and a touchdown on 17-of-26 passing. He also rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries to earn the No. 4 spot on CFN's Top 50 Performances of the bowl season.
Coffman, who was participating in his final collegiate football game, played like it. He recorded six tackles, three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss against the Bulldogs. His performance earned him the No. 39 spot.
CollegeFootballNews.com also posted the 50 Biggest Stars
and Northern Illinois appears twice. Tom Matukewicz was one of three interim coaches to win their bowl game and appear at No. 47, Interim Head Coaches. As a team, Northern Illinois checked in at No. 35 for it's 40-17 victory over Fresno State minus its head coach and two coordinators.
Congratulations to Northern Illinois junior center Scott Wedige, who was named to Rivals.com 2010 All-Bowl Team
Wedige's performance on the inside against Fresno State defensive tackle Logan Harrell, among others, was key to the Huskies' gaining 503 yards of total offense in a dominating 40-17 victory over the Bulldogs in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. The article also recognizes the job done by NIU offensive tackle Trevor Olson, who held Fresno State defensive end Chris Carter, the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, without a tackle. Harrell and Carter combined for 30.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks before getting handled by the Huskies.
The great news for Huskie fans: Wedige, Olson and fellow offensive line starters Joe Pawlak, Logan Pegram and Keith Otis all return in 2011.
Of course, we think quarterback Chandler Harnish's 300-yard passing performance (on 17-of-26 passing) and 72 yards rushing (on 10 carries) should have earned him a nod on the All-Bowl Team over Stanford's Andrew Luck! Harnish accounted for three TDs (two rushing, one passing) to pick up MVP honors.
With last night's National Championship game in the books, the final polls are out. The Huskies just missed the Top 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, finishing at 26 with 82 points. The Associated Press ranked the Huskies No. 29 with 47 points. You can check out both polls here
This year's BCS National Championship game features two of the most explosive offense's in the country. Oregon and Auburn rank No. 1 & 2 respectively in scoring drives under three plays or less in 2010.
However, Auburn shares that honor with another school - Northern Illinois. The Huskies and Tigers have had an amazing 20 scoring drives of three plays or less this season. NIU had five games with multiple drives of three plays or less including an astounding eight against Eastern Michigan alone.
Northern Illinois tailback Chad Spann has been invited to play in the inaugural Eastham Energy College All-Star Game Jan. 23, 2011. The game will be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Spann wrapped up a stellar career at Northern Illinois in 2010. He captured the Vern Smith Award after leading the Mid-American Conference in rushing, averaging 99 yards a game and producing his second-straight 1,000-yard season with 1,388 yards. Also named the MAC's Offensive Player of the Year, he set the Huskies' single season record for rushing touchdowns and touchdowns scored with 22.
Spann will not be the only Huskie down in Temple. Former NIU head football coach and NIU Hall of Famer Jerry Ippoliti is one of the founders of the game.
The day the Huskies have waited for all week is finally here -- Game Day!
Six buses left the team hotel at 12:15 p.m. MT and arrived at Bronco Stadium 15 minutes later. Sure it was three hours before kickoff, but the team was anxious to get going. They've spent the last hour and a half surveying the field and getting the lay of the land.
The setting here at Bronco Stadium is truly amazing and the view outside the press box is unbelievable. Just past the light standards above the east stands are the mountains. It's kind of a gray overcast day today, but it's still impressive to see the tops of the mountains just kissing the clouds.
for the Northern Illinois University football team is all but over. All that's
left is to play the game.
began their day with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast. After
breakfast, eight NIU football players; quarterback Chandler Harnish, wide
receiver Landon Cox, running back Ricky Crider, defensive end Jake Coffman,
safety Mike Sobol, linebacker Alex Kube, offensive tackle Trevor Olson and tight
end Jason Schepler visited St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise.
student-athletes who comprise NIU's Bowl Leadership Council, went around the
hospital visiting with patients young and old. It was impressive watching these
young men enter the hospital rooms of complete strangers and listening to the
patients tell their stories was impressive to see. I followed Kube, Sobol, Cox
and Crider as they visited patients in the Neuro wing and those rehabbing from
was happy to receive them and talk to the players about football, the upcoming
game, where they were from and how great the people of Boise have been to
Northern Illinois during their stay. The Huskies came across a high school
football player that was overjoyed to meet the quartet. In keeping with the
Christmas spirit, not only did the players visit with the patients, but they
handed out gifts of t-shirts, hats and water bottles.
Coffman, Schepler and Olson visited the pediatric wing and patients being
treated for cancer. The group made one visit to a mother and her day-old paper.
When she asked if any of the players wanted to hold her child, Chandler stepped
up and held the infant gently in his arms.
visit to St. Alphonsus was the final event they would participate in. They hit the Blue Turf at Bronco Stadium for
their final walk-thru before tomorrow's game with Fresno State.
Just a final
closing thought on our week in Boise. To a man, every Huskie player has raved
about their week here for the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. Like the players every
member of the travel party has had the same sentiment. The people of Boise have
opened their arms and embraced the Huskies. It will be a trip we will never
The five Northern Illinois freshmen that went over to the Idaho State Capitol building has made national news. ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel heard about the quintet's visit with Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and posted a little blurb on their meeting with Gov. Otter in his blog
You can also find a preview of Saturday's uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
by Andrea Adelson on ESPN.com's blog as well.
Back row from left to right: Ryan Foley, C.J. Compher, Michael Gegner, Blake Goodell and Ricky Connors with Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.
"Can we see the governor?"
That was the question a group of Northern Illinois
University freshmen presented to the secretary of Idaho governor C.L. "Butch"
Otter while touring the state capitol building in Boise today.
Fullbacks C.J. Compher and Ricky Connors, offensive linemen Michael
Gegner and Blake Goodell, and defensive lineman Ryan Foley were doing some
sight-seeing during their free time on Thursday afternoon and walked over to
the capitol building to check it out. During their visit, they walked by
Governor Otter's office and decided to stop in.
At the reception desk, they asked, "Can we see the governor?" not really
expecting to meet him.
The secretary replied, "Let me see if he's up there."
The five freshmen got more than they bargained for. Not only
did Governor Otter, a Boise State graduate, receive them, but he gave the
Huskies the red carpet treatment. He invited
them into his office, posed for pictures, asked about the team , the prospects
for Saturday's upcoming game and their experience in Boise so far. He said he would be at the game and even
hinted that he would be rooting for the team wearing Red and Black. (Don't tell
Fresno State that.)
In addition to their visit with the governor, the quintet
stopped by the State Senate Assembly room where they (with permission) posed
for pictures holding the gavel.
It was an experience those guys will never forget. When
Donna Turner and I bumped into them on the street in downtown Boise, they were still
raving about the way they were treated. It
was another example of the welcoming hospitality the people of this city have extended
to the Huskies throughout their stay here.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery on the blog later
tonight for photos taken by Compher.
It is Day Two here in Boise for the Northern Illinois
University football team and it began early. The team boarded the buses at 7:45
a.m. and headed to Bogus Basin for a morning of tubing.
After getting through town, the buses headed up a slow and
winding road up into the mountains. It was a scenic trip with the snow covered
mountains on one side of the road and the valley on the other. The sunrise
coming over the mountains made the views even more spectacular. It was pretty
cool traveling up the mountain and seeing sign like "Elevation 4,000 Feet,"
"Elevation 5,000 Feet" and "Elevation 6,000 Feet."
Once up the mountain, the team couldn't wait to hit the
tubing hill. For seasoned snow veterans like Minnesota native Trevor Olson,
tubing took him back to his childhood. For guys like Tyler Pitt, from McRae,
Ga., the snow opened him up to a whole new world. He did, however, have a nasty
"incident" on his second run down the hill.
Pitt was going down the run, head first, but ended up
getting turned around and was traveling backwards. His foot got caught on the
ground tossing him off his tube and sending him tumbling for a bit. To add
insult to injury, NIU defensive coordinator/safeties coach Jay Sawvel ran into
him. Fortunately for both guys, only their pride was hurt.
Once at the bottom, Pitt was introduced to another winter
pastime - the snowball fights. After reaching the bottom of the hill, there was
a lot of down time waiting for the tow to bring the players back to the top
again for another run. The Huskies filled that time with intermittent
snowball fights. Public enemy No. 1 was redshirt-
freshman quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch took great joy firing snowballs from
the back of the line into the crowd of his teammates in the front.
Following this morning's tubing event, the Huskies went to
downtown Boise to grab some lunch and explore the city a bit before heading
over to Boise State's indoor practice facility for an hour and 40 minute workout.
It was a
fun-filled first day of activities for the Northern Illinois University
football team as the Huskies enjoyed a friendly bowling competition with their
opponents in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, Fresno State, then enjoyed a delicious
barbecue dinner and capping the night off by picking up and picking out their
event of uDrove Humanitarian Bowl Week, Certified Angus Beef Bowl for Beef
charity event pitted the Huskies against the Bulldogs at Westy's Garden Lanes
in Garden City. The two teams represented four charities. NIU was bowling
locally for the Idaho Foodbank and for Meals on Wheels of Sycamore back home.
the NIU defense competed against the Fresno State offense and the Huskie
offense took on the Bulldog defense. A player from each side of the ball bowled
a frame for their respective teams. The Fresno State defense won the first
game, 122-116, while the Huskie offense and Fresno defense tied 145-145 in
edged out the Huskies, 267-261. However, Northern Illinois raised a combined
total of 1,244 pounds of beef for its two charities.
brief stop at the hotel, Northern Illinois then traveled across town to Barber
Park Events Center for a Welcome Barbecue. The players enjoyed pulled pork, brisket,
baked beans, fresh rolls and of course, potato salad. It was a fantastic meal!
evening in Boise ended for the team with a stop at the Gift Suite where the
Huskies picked up their bowl swag. Players received a parka, gloves, a
backpack, bowl hoodie and t-shirt among other items. The topper however, was
the electronics gift suite. The Huskies had five points in which to spend at
the table, with each item assigned a point value. For some, it was as one
player put it, "The toughest decision of my life."
If only life were that difficult.
agenda has the Huskies tubing at Bogus Basin Ski Resort, before heading off to
Boise State for their first practice of the week. They then head to Owyhee
Plaza Hotel for dinner.
A quiet group of Huskies boarded five buses at approximately
5:30 a.m. this morning for the first leg, and first day, of the bowl trip to
Boise, Idaho. The buses picked up the
group behind the Convocation Center and the most hazardous part of the trip may
have been the journey from the car to the bus across a sheet of ice while carrying,
or rolling, a bag carrying five days' worth of clothing.
Once filled, the buses set off for Rockford Airport where we
rolled onto the tarmac and a very chilly group of TSA employees were waiting
for the outdoor check-in procedure.
While it was slightly uncomfortable for those of us on the buses, it had
to be freezing for those folks who had to stand out in the sub-zero wind chill
for over an hour.
Everyone seemed to remember their ID and after a slight
delay due to an extra-large trunk carrying some additional cold weather capes
had to be partially emptied, the flight departed at approximately 9 a.m.
(CST). The pilot informed us that the
flying time was 3:22 and every seat on the plane was filled, with
administrators and coaches and their families at the front, followed by support
staff (doctors, athletic trainers, equipment staff) and finally players.
Unlike a "normal" road trip which is limited to 65 players
for MAC games and usually only a few more than that (72-74) for the
non-conference season, nearly every player on the 2010 roster was able to make
the Humanitarian Bowl trip. In fact, a
handful of staffers (including the Media Services crew who film practice,
marketing and ticket office staff), had to take a commercial flight. That group left campus at 3:30 am!
There were a handful of "first time" flyers on the trip
among the additional players, including rookie center Mike Gegner, junior
college transfer Matt Battaglia and snapper Brian Mayer. The group had a breakfast "snack" (bagel,
nutri-grain bar) immediately upon board the plane and once airborne, were
served a hot (well, semi-hot) breakfast of pancakes and sausage, orange juice,
grapefruit and croissant.
As the plane descended into Boise, passengers on the left
side of the plane got their first glimpse of the famous "blue turf" of Bronco
The Miami Air flight was smooth and Northern Illinois landed
in Boise at 11:30 am (Mountain Time).
The Huskies deplaned and got a full police escort to the hotel as
traffic was stopped along the highways for the city's special guests.
Upon arrival at the hotel, Gegner reported that he "really
enjoyed" the flight while Mayer said it was "fine" and that he slept almost the
We'll be back later to report on the "Bowl for
Beef" - a competitive bowling event between the teams - and the Welcome Dinner
and Gift Suite pick-up.
Jay Taft of the Rockford Register Star
filed his take on tomorrow night's MAC Championship in this story
Rick Armstrong has been a very busy man, pulling double duty working for the Beacon News and the Chicago Sun-Times. Armstrong caught up with former NIU head coach Joe Novak to find out where the Miami (OH) grad's loyalties will be on Friday in this feature story
He also has an outstanding feature
on NIU signal caller Chandler Harnish, that technically will run tomorrow, and this story
on Vern Smith Leadership Award winner and MAC Offensive Player of the Year Chad Spann.
There are a pair of features on the Chicago Tribune's
website today. Fred Mitchell posted his breakdown and prediction
of Friday night's (6 p.m. CST, ESPN2) 2010 MAC Championship game against Miami (OH).
Mitchell's colleague, David Haugh, wrote this excellent feature
of the Huskie's head man Jerry Kill. He talks about his rise from humble beginnings to one of the best at his profession.
As you may have already heard, NIU tailback Chad Spann earned the Mid-American Conference's Vern Smith Leadership Award
today. A former walk-on, who earned a scholarship two weeks into his freshman year, Spann joins former teammate Larry English and fellow Huskie tailback Garrett Wolfe. Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com had a post on his blog
today, as did Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com in her blog. Adelson went a step further naming the All-MAC Teams and specialty awards in her post
Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune posted his take
on the upcoming 2010 Marathon MAC Championship. Head coach Jerry Kill, linebacker Alex Kube and quarterback Chandler Harnish offer their keys to success against Miami (OH) Friday night.