Ever since the Northern Illinois University football team upset Maryland and Iowa State in DeKalb in 2003, NIU fans have wondered when a Bowl Championship Series team would return to DeKalb.
Tuesday, they got their answer.
NIU and Kansas will play a home-and-home football series in 2011 and 2012, officials from both schools announced Tuesday. The Huskies will travel to Lawrence, Kan. to play the Jayhawks on Sept. 10, 2011, while KU will visit Huskie Stadium on Sept. 22, 2012.
NIU athletic director Jeff Compher said he began talks with Kansas in late November about scheduling a home-and-home series.
"They were more willing to do it (a home-and-home series) than a lot of other teams were," Compher said. "From then on, we were set on making it a win-win for both schools. ... I knew [bringing a BCS team to DeKalb] would happen, you've just got to be patient."
When Compher arrived last year at NIU, he had a BCS team (Wisconsin) scheduled to come to DeKalb in 2009, but that game was moved to Soldier Field in 2011 and is projected to bring a financial windfall of more than $1 million to the NIU athletic department.
Compher also said finding the right dates were an important factor.
"We schedule so far in advance now that it can be a challenge," he said. "If we were playing there in 2011 and they didn't come until 2015 that doesn't make a lot of sense."
Because the series is a home-and-home, the home team each year will pay for the away team's travel and lodging costs.
NIU coach Jerry Kill is a native of Cheyney, Kan. and attended Southwestern College in Winfield. He spent seven total seasons on the coaching staff at Pittsburg State (1985-87, 1990-93) and was the head coach at Emporia State in 1999 and 2000. In 15 years as a head coach at the FBS, FCS and Division II, Kill never has faced his home state school.
“First of all, the credit goes to Jeff Compher for getting this done,” Kill said in a news release. “Bringing a team like Kansas to DeKalb for a home-and-home series is huge for our program and great for our fans.
"For me and the guys on our staff, not only do we get to play them here at Huskie Stadium, but when we go to Kansas, we get to go ‘home’ where we were born and raised, where many of us coached before and have a lot of friends and family, so that is a neat aspect of this deal.”
Compher also praised Kansas' cooperation with NIU.
"We appreciate the willingness of [Kansas AD] Lew Perkins and his staff to work with us on these games," Compher said. "It’s always a challenge, knowing that we have to schedule our non-conference opponents many years out, but this is a scheduling philosophy (home-and-home series) that we want to continue over time."