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KORCEK'S CORNER: Time for NIU to rename 'Stadium Drive'

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

Just typing out loud.

Suggestion No. 1: If the Northern Illinois administration wants to continue enhancing its campus, the powers-that-be might want to look at renaming the four Stadium Drives adjacent to Huskie Stadium. Why not go with the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame head football coaches George “Chick” Evans, Howard Fletcher, Bill Mallory, and Joe Novak? Evans Way. Fletcher Way. Mallory Way. Novak Way. Love it, perfect. All integral parts of the modern Northern Illinois football legacy. It’s a Huskies no-brainer and more than appropriate in all four cases.

Suggestion No. 2: My belated kudos to NIU intercollegiate athletics for the fabulous homecoming reunions, the re-energized hall of fame induction ceremony, and the 50th anniversary commemoration for the 1963 College Division National Championship team. Hats off to Rick Cerrone, Rodney Davis, Monique Bernoudy, Kyle Skarb, and many others.

To say the least, it was a memorable weekend for Huskies young and old. In the tailgate area, my head was on a constant swivel, surrounded by proud ex-Northern Illinois players and coaches. This is

exactly what homecoming should be at NIU and shows what Doug Baker and Sean Frazier mean about alumni engagement.

For 2014, I would suggest the 25th anniversary reunion of Jerry Pettibone’s 9-2 team from 1989 that featured quarterback Stacey Robinson, fullback Adam Dach, linebacker Ron Delisi, placekicker John Ivanic, etc. The 2015 campaign marks the 50th anniversary of Huskie Stadium. I can see an updated All-Time Huskie Stadium Team (originally done in 1995 when the East Grandstand made its debut) and inviting everybody back for the weekend.

Observation No. 1: Anybody notice this when the BCS standings made their debut Oct. 21? The Chicago Tribune put all five college football rankings – the BCS, the computer, the AP, the USA Today coaches, and the Harris interactive poll – in one section on its print sports page that Monday. One thing was obvious.

Which school in all five was spelled three different ways in the Trib? Northern Illinois, of course.

There was some space limitations in the BCS agate but there’s (grrrr) “North Illinois” (no period on the abbreviation). In the computer poll, it’s “No. Illinois.” In the AP, USA Today, and Harris, it’s “Northern Illinois.” Hate to pick on some old friends on the sports desk at 435 N. Michigan Ave., but is it an editing problem locally or did it originate with the individual polls?

What it does initiate is the never-ending campus branding debate: NIU or Northern Illinois or what? The all-tme worst must be “NIll” or, gasp, “UNI.” Sadly, over the years, we’ve all seen both too many times. Now that the alma mater has been a regular on the national scene for awhile, couldn’t the sports journalism hierarchy strive for some consistency?

Observation No. 2: Yeah, the Huskies have played in their share of NFL venues in recent years - including Gillette Stadium onSaturday in Foxboro. NIU’s first appearance in an NFL stadium? Then Jack Murphy Stadium – now Qualcomm (San Diego Chargers) – for NIU-San Diego State on Sept. 20, 1968. I was there.

Rhetorical Question No. 1: When does Temple (1-7 overall, 0-4 in the new American Athletic Conference) re-apply for admission into the Mid-American Conference? Just asking.

Opinion No. 1: How disappointing were the Chicago Bulls on opening night? Extremely. On several levels. And people actually hope the Bulls can beat the Miami Heat four times in one playoff series? Get serious.

Hey, I’ve been a rabid Bulls’ fan since Day 1 in 1966-67. I sat in the smelly International Amphitheatre on rusty folding chairs watching Guy Rodgers, Jerry Sloan, Erwin Mueller, Jimmy Washington, and Bob Boozer do their thing. Where were all the front-runner MJ and D-Rose acolytes back then?

Yes, I know, Tuesday was one of 82 regular-season games and the real NBA begins in April. As incredulous as it sounds, the other night coach Tom Thibodeau’s quintet looked both mentally and physically unprepared for a Heat team that everyone in the NBA loves to hate and would love to beat. Despite the sterling preseason, I’m sorry, Derrick Rose is still rusty.

The critical question in the D-Rose era has been a lack of a consistent, big-time low-post scorer. So Mr. Scapegoat, aka Carlos Boozer, leads all scorers with 31 points the other night. What happened to Chicago’s other NBA all-stars? And now comes the score Wednesday night that Philadelphia 76ers beat the defending champ Heat.

Feels great, eh, Chicago fans?

What’s even worse? The fact that the “sophisticated” Chicago media types collectively swooned for the 8-0 preseason exhibition record with sugar plum NBA finals dreams for the locals. Talk about true media objectivity. Of course, the Bulls will contend in 2013-14. Thibs is a grinder and the team will eventually respond.  

It’s just that the Hollywood hubris Heat can be vulnerable at times (never more so than the sixth game of last year’s NBA finals against San Antonio) and the Bulls never seems to get them on those nights. Why not?

Observation No. 3: Noted Ball State graduate David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune may be the best sports columnist in town. Why then did Haugh “waste” a column Sunday on demoted Comcast SportsNet Bulls’ analyst Kendall Gill escapes me. The incident occurred in March and very little new perspective – outside of Gill’s viewpoint – was offered to the local Trib reader or Comcast audience who may still be wondering “what really happened?”  

Hitting anyone in the workplace is unacceptable, no matter the provocation. You mean eight months after the fact no one knows if the scuffle’s other “participant” – Tim Doyle – was disciplined by Comcast or the Big Ten Network? This was not journalism’s finest moment in more ways than one. In his NBA days, I wonder if Gill bragged about his martial arts training to Shaq or Charles Barkley. Just curious. Love these macho types. Gill needs to look into his bathroom mirror. There’s the reason you lost your lucrative media gig in Chicago. Over a goaltending call in a Bulls’ game no less.

Fearless Korcek Forecast: Northern Illinois 55, UMass 10.

Comment No. 1:NIU finally plays on National College Football Day instead of midweek.

• 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 sports@daily-chronicle.com.

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