Northern Illinois has busted the BCS, and will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.
However, the Huskies did it without the help of some voters in the USA Today Coaches Poll, in particular, coaches from the Big 12 Conference.
The four coaches from the conference with votes – Baylor’s Art Briles, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, all voted the Huskies 19th or worse.
Briles had NIU 19th and Rhoads had the team 20th. Meanwhile, Stoops and Holgorsen ranked the Huskies at No. 24.
Other coaches who had NIU 20th or worse were Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Ball State’s Pete Lembo, LSU’s Les Miles, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Middle Tennessee’s Rick Stockstill, San Diego State’s Rocky Long, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Michigan’s Brady Hoke.
The connection with the low votes in the Big 12 is apparent. The conference had everything to lose with NIU earning its BCS bid. Oklahoma, which finished 11th in the BCS standings, most likely would have gotten the final BCS spot if NIU didn’t qualify.
Instead, Stoops and co. will be headed to the Cotton Bowl to play Texas A&M.
Former Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak used to vote in the Coaches Poll, and currently votes in the Harris Poll, which is also used to help determine the BCS standings.
To Novak, there needs to be more integrity in the system.
“When I read about guys doing that type of thing, they should be reprimanded, they should lose their votes and Grant Teaff from the American Football Coaches Association ought to address that,” Novak said via phone. “That’s ridiculous and awful.”
Novak voted the Huskies 15th in the Harris Poll. NIU ended up 16th.
“In my mind, honestly, I wanted Northern to be fifth,” Novak said. “But I wanted to be honest with my vote, I wanted to be fair. I thought that’s where they fit. I voted them that way even though I would have liked to have voted them fifth.”
The Mid-American Conference would obviously benefit from NIU’s BCS bid, but almost every coach with a vote had NIU around their final ranking of No. 16.
Former Huskies head coach Dave Doeren, who accepted the North Carolina State job Saturday, put the Huskies 14th. Akron coach Terry Bowden and Toledo’s Matt Campbell had NIU in the same spot, while Kent State’s Darrell Hazell had NIU 17th.
The lone exception was Lembo, who ranked NIU 21st.
The coach who voted the Huskies the highest was Central Florida’s George O’Leary, who had NIU at No. 11. Hoke put NIU 25th, which was the lowest vote the Huskies received.