DeKALB – Jordan Lynch’s Heisman Trophy game of phone tag began at 4:45 p.m. Monday.
That’s when Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey called his senior star quarterback and asked, if he wasn’t busy this weekend, if he’d have a problem jetting off to New York as one of six finalists for college football’s biggest individual honor.
Tag. You’re it Jordan Lynch.
Being the good son he is, Lynch decided to include his mother, Sheila, on the game. He called her cell phone while she was at work. No answer. Called again. Nothing. Called again. Still no mom. How’s a kid supposed to pass on what’s perhaps the biggest news of his life – or at least his college football career – if his mom’s cell phone battery is dead?
“There’s no point in having a cell phone these days,” Lynch said Tuesday. “I told my ma, I called her 100 times. So she kind of gets it for not picking up the phone and charging it.”
Lynch placed a call to his dad Jim’s cell phone. Nothing. No answer. Really? He tried again, his frustration with his parents’ cell phone habits quickly mounting. No one picked up.
“I don’t know what [my dad’s] deal was,” Lynch said.
By this point Monday, Lynch had tweeted that he was indeed heading to New York, a city he never has visited, to vie for a trophy that no Mid-American Conference player – let alone one from NIU – ever had won.
In his haste to break the news to someone, Lynch inadvertently preceded ESPN’s announcement by a good 10 minutes.
Lynch’s second straight record-breaking year with the Huskies landed him in the same room as athletes from bigger schools who play in front of bigger fan bases.
Lynch said Tuesday he’s excited to get to New York and rub elbows with the Heisman elite. He wants to meet Bo Jackson, who won the award in 1985.
He’s really excited to see New York. He wants to travel around the city on a bus with his family. During his news conference Tuesday morning, Lynch even mistakenly thought Rockefeller Center was a chapel before quickly being corrected.
Whether Lynch really is among college football’s elite remains up for debate among those who wonder whether the talented quarterback would put up such mind-blowing numbers if he played in a bigger conference.
But this much is true: Lynch isn’t shying away from the competition.
“I’m going there to win,” Lynch said. “I’m not going there to come in last or to second place. I’m going there to win.”
Lynch’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Carey called Monday afternoon. Among those who called Monday night was former NIU coach Jerry Kill, who was out recruiting when the announcement was made and didn’t learn that Lynch was heading to New York until around 11 p.m.
He then proceeded to call Lynch’s phone 12 times. The two finally spoke Tuesday morning.
Lynch said Tuesday he would trade the trip to New York in a minute for a chance to play in the Fiesta Bowl. The loss admittedly still stings.
But being recognized for a body of work that has landed him among college football’s best is sure to be a weekend Lynch never will forget. Lynch said the enormity of the accomplishment might not even hit him until he’s on a plane to New York.
Hopefully, his mom keeps her phone charged.
• Jeff Arnold is a sports reporter with Shaw Media. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.