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Korceck's Corner: Homecoming Huskies trivia

What does homecoming mean to you? To me, it’s revisiting old friends and memories.

In that spirit and as a public service, “Korcek’s Corner” offers The Ultimate 1963/1983/2003 Northern Illinois University Football Trivia Challenge, not only to honor the respective anniversary of those outstanding teams that will be on campus this weekend, but to test your brain cells and Huskies gridiron mettle.

There are some real stumpers, but a few freebies, too. Hopefully, this is educational (and fun). If you can only answer three out of 20, please (1) consider transferring to SIU and (2) banning yourself from “The Dog Pound” forum for life. 

If you’re Kirk Herbstreit, don’t bother reading any further. And now, the questions ...

No. 1: NIU leads the Mid-American Conference in all-time Vern Smith Leadership Awards with seven since the league MVP trophy’s inception in 1982? Can you name the Huskies’ first recipient?

Answer: Quarterback Tim Tyrrell (1983), the heart and soul of that esteemed Cal Bowl group.

No. 2: George Bork (1963), Tyrrell (1983) and Josh Haldi (2003) were the starting QBs those years. Who were their backups?

Answer: Ron Christian (1963), Darryl Taylor (1983) and Ryan Gilbert (2003).

No. 3: Who was the first 3,000-yard single-season passer in the history of college football? (Hint: the same player was a two-sport All-America pick.)

Answer: Bork, with 3,077 yards in nine games (the NCAA did not include bowl statistics then in season totals). This two-sport Huskies icon turned down a full ride at Michigan to play football and basketball (1,114 career points) at NIU, thank goodness.

No. 4: With the historic 7-0 start in 2003 – including wins over No. 15-rated Maryland, No. 21 Alabama, and Iowa State – how high did coach Joe Novak’s squad climb in the national polls?

Answer: Tenth in the BCS ratings (Oct. 21), No. 12 in The Associated Press poll (Oct. 14 and Oct. 21), and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll (Oct. 21). Eat your heart out, Illini.

No. 5: How many NFL draft selections and professional players (NFL free agents, Arena, USFL and CFL) ultimately were produced by coach Bill Mallory’s 10-2 California Bowl in 1983?

Answer: Seven NFL draftees – NG Doug Bartlett (Los Angeles), OT Scott Bolzan (New England), DT Scott Kellar (Indianapolis), DT Steve O’Malley (Indianapolis), WR Curt Pardridge (San Diego), OG Todd Peat (St. Louis) and LB Clarence Vaughn (Washington) – and 19 professional players overall. 

No. 6: Judging from the 1963 Huskies roster, where was coach Howard Fletcher’s favorite recruiting venue?

Answer: DeKalb. Six players called the Barb City home – HB Jack Dean, C Bob Evans, LB Mike Henigan, PK Terry Henigan, DE Lynn McCann and E Jim Modglin.  

No. 7: What NIU Hall of Famer coached those same six at DeKalb High School?

Answer: Bob Heimerdinger, the program’s first Little All-America QB (1951).

No. 8: What did DE Jason Frank, SS Ray Smith and WR Kevin Woods do on one special teams play on Sept. 20, 2003?

Answer: The trio teamed up to produce NIU’s first-ever defensive, two-point PAT and created a three-point swing in the Huskies’ 19-16 statement victory at Alabama. Frank blocked the Crimson Tide’s first-period PAT kick attempt, Smith recovered the ball and lateralled it to Woods, who took it to the end zone.

No. 9: During the stretch run for the 1983 MAC title, what unique school record did the giddy Huskie Stadium fans accomplish vs. Bowling Green State, Toledo and Ohio?

Answer: Tearing down five goalposts (kids, don’t do this at home or in 2013). By the season finale vs. Ohio, a stiff wind could’ve blown over either of the water-logged, flimsy goalposts.

No. 10: Who led the undefeated (10-0) 1963 NCAA College Division champions in punting?

Answer: Bork with a 35.2-yard average.

No. 11: Multiple choice: “Turner the Burner” T-shirts became hot (pun intended) collector’s items in 2003. Did they really grace (a) the set of ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption,” (b) a life-size Elvis Presley cardboard cutout in a lobby at the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., and (c) the Executive Mansion in Springfield that fall?

Answer: Two out of three – (a) and (b) – ain’t bad. Thankfully, Gov. Blago didn’t think the “Burner” shirts were “golden” enough.

No. 12: Who was the Huskies’ leading rusher in the first and last games of the ‘83 season?

Answer: Senior FB Lou Wicks, who bulldozed for 86 yards on 20 carries in the season-opening 37-34 triumph at Kansas (NIU’s first “Boneyard” “W”) and a game-high 119 on 14 attempts in the 20-13 victory over Cal State Fullerton (initial FBS bowl win) in the California Bowl, enough to be voted the game’s MVP.

No. 13: What was the significance of a 40-yard pass from Bork to FB Dave Broderick?

Answer: That was the winning TD in the school’s initial bowl triumph – a 21-14 victory over Southwest Missouri State in the Mineral Water Bowl on Nov. 30, 1963.

No. 14: Match the 2003 namesake with his NIU nickname. (1) Dan Sheldon, (2) Michael Turner, (3) A. J. Harris and (4) Brian Atkinson. (a) “Burner,” (b) “Afterburner,” (c) “The Beast,” and (d) “Seabiscuit.”

Answer: 1-d, 2-a, 3-b and 4-c

No. 15: A writer from what national publication actually rode the Toledo team bus for the Rockets showdown game against NIU in DeKalb in ‘83?

Answer: Sports Illustrated. Can you say “conflict of interest?” Final score: NIU 26, Toledo 10. ‘Nuff said.

No. 16: Can you name the first two Huskies football players to appear on ABC-TV’s “Wide World of Sports?”

Answer: The record-setting Bork-Hugh Rohrschneider pass-catch duo in the 1963 North-South Shrine Game.

No. 17: Bork started at QB in the North-South Shrine Game ahead of what Boston College major-college All-America and future Chicago Bear?

Answer: Jack Concannon

No. 18: Only one football head coach in the 67-year history of the MAC has captured the league title, won a bowl game and been named Coach of the Year at two member schools. Who?

Answer: MAC Hall of Famer Bill Mallory at Miami (1973) and NIU (1983)

No. 19: Which NIU team captain sang Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” on ESPN?

Answer: P.J. Fleck in 2003.

No. 20: Which FBS program in the state boasts the longest homecoming tradition?

Answer: NIU (1903), Illinois (1910) and Northwestern (1911). Remember, the U of I “invented” homecoming. Ha.

Fearless Korcek Prediction: Northern Illinois 35, Akron 17.

Mike Korcek is a former NIU sports information director. His historical perspective on NIU athletics appears periodically in the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at

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