Joe Summins: December 2010 Archives
The day the Huskies have waited for all week is finally here -- Game Day!
Six buses left the team hotel at 12:15 p.m. MT and arrived at Bronco Stadium 15 minutes later. Sure it was three hours before kickoff, but the team was anxious to get going. They've spent the last hour and a half surveying the field and getting the lay of the land.
The setting here at Bronco Stadium is truly amazing and the view outside the press box is unbelievable. Just past the light standards above the east stands are the mountains. It's kind of a gray overcast day today, but it's still impressive to see the tops of the mountains just kissing the clouds.
for the Northern Illinois University football team is all but over. All that's
left is to play the game.
began their day with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast. After
breakfast, eight NIU football players; quarterback Chandler Harnish, wide
receiver Landon Cox, running back Ricky Crider, defensive end Jake Coffman,
safety Mike Sobol, linebacker Alex Kube, offensive tackle Trevor Olson and tight
end Jason Schepler visited St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise.
student-athletes who comprise NIU's Bowl Leadership Council, went around the
hospital visiting with patients young and old. It was impressive watching these
young men enter the hospital rooms of complete strangers and listening to the
patients tell their stories was impressive to see. I followed Kube, Sobol, Cox
and Crider as they visited patients in the Neuro wing and those rehabbing from
was happy to receive them and talk to the players about football, the upcoming
game, where they were from and how great the people of Boise have been to
Northern Illinois during their stay. The Huskies came across a high school
football player that was overjoyed to meet the quartet. In keeping with the
Christmas spirit, not only did the players visit with the patients, but they
handed out gifts of t-shirts, hats and water bottles.
Coffman, Schepler and Olson visited the pediatric wing and patients being
treated for cancer. The group made one visit to a mother and her day-old paper.
When she asked if any of the players wanted to hold her child, Chandler stepped
up and held the infant gently in his arms.
visit to St. Alphonsus was the final event they would participate in. They hit the Blue Turf at Bronco Stadium for
their final walk-thru before tomorrow's game with Fresno State.
Just a final
closing thought on our week in Boise. To a man, every Huskie player has raved
about their week here for the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. Like the players every
member of the travel party has had the same sentiment. The people of Boise have
opened their arms and embraced the Huskies. It will be a trip we will never
The five Northern Illinois freshmen that went over to the Idaho State Capitol building has made national news. ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel heard about the quintet's visit with Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and posted a little blurb on their meeting with Gov. Otter in his blog
You can also find a preview of Saturday's uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
by Andrea Adelson on ESPN.com's blog as well.
Back row from left to right: Ryan Foley, C.J. Compher, Michael Gegner, Blake Goodell and Ricky Connors with Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.
"Can we see the governor?"
That was the question a group of Northern Illinois
University freshmen presented to the secretary of Idaho governor C.L. "Butch"
Otter while touring the state capitol building in Boise today.
Fullbacks C.J. Compher and Ricky Connors, offensive linemen Michael
Gegner and Blake Goodell, and defensive lineman Ryan Foley were doing some
sight-seeing during their free time on Thursday afternoon and walked over to
the capitol building to check it out. During their visit, they walked by
Governor Otter's office and decided to stop in.
At the reception desk, they asked, "Can we see the governor?" not really
expecting to meet him.
The secretary replied, "Let me see if he's up there."
The five freshmen got more than they bargained for. Not only
did Governor Otter, a Boise State graduate, receive them, but he gave the
Huskies the red carpet treatment. He invited
them into his office, posed for pictures, asked about the team , the prospects
for Saturday's upcoming game and their experience in Boise so far. He said he would be at the game and even
hinted that he would be rooting for the team wearing Red and Black. (Don't tell
Fresno State that.)
In addition to their visit with the governor, the quintet
stopped by the State Senate Assembly room where they (with permission) posed
for pictures holding the gavel.
It was an experience those guys will never forget. When
Donna Turner and I bumped into them on the street in downtown Boise, they were still
raving about the way they were treated. It
was another example of the welcoming hospitality the people of this city have extended
to the Huskies throughout their stay here.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery on the blog later
tonight for photos taken by Compher.
It is Day Two here in Boise for the Northern Illinois
University football team and it began early. The team boarded the buses at 7:45
a.m. and headed to Bogus Basin for a morning of tubing.
After getting through town, the buses headed up a slow and
winding road up into the mountains. It was a scenic trip with the snow covered
mountains on one side of the road and the valley on the other. The sunrise
coming over the mountains made the views even more spectacular. It was pretty
cool traveling up the mountain and seeing sign like "Elevation 4,000 Feet,"
"Elevation 5,000 Feet" and "Elevation 6,000 Feet."
Once up the mountain, the team couldn't wait to hit the
tubing hill. For seasoned snow veterans like Minnesota native Trevor Olson,
tubing took him back to his childhood. For guys like Tyler Pitt, from McRae,
Ga., the snow opened him up to a whole new world. He did, however, have a nasty
"incident" on his second run down the hill.
Pitt was going down the run, head first, but ended up
getting turned around and was traveling backwards. His foot got caught on the
ground tossing him off his tube and sending him tumbling for a bit. To add
insult to injury, NIU defensive coordinator/safeties coach Jay Sawvel ran into
him. Fortunately for both guys, only their pride was hurt.
Once at the bottom, Pitt was introduced to another winter
pastime - the snowball fights. After reaching the bottom of the hill, there was
a lot of down time waiting for the tow to bring the players back to the top
again for another run. The Huskies filled that time with intermittent
snowball fights. Public enemy No. 1 was redshirt-
freshman quarterback Jordan Lynch. Lynch took great joy firing snowballs from
the back of the line into the crowd of his teammates in the front.
Following this morning's tubing event, the Huskies went to
downtown Boise to grab some lunch and explore the city a bit before heading
over to Boise State's indoor practice facility for an hour and 40 minute workout.
It was a
fun-filled first day of activities for the Northern Illinois University
football team as the Huskies enjoyed a friendly bowling competition with their
opponents in the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl, Fresno State, then enjoyed a delicious
barbecue dinner and capping the night off by picking up and picking out their
event of uDrove Humanitarian Bowl Week, Certified Angus Beef Bowl for Beef
charity event pitted the Huskies against the Bulldogs at Westy's Garden Lanes
in Garden City. The two teams represented four charities. NIU was bowling
locally for the Idaho Foodbank and for Meals on Wheels of Sycamore back home.
the NIU defense competed against the Fresno State offense and the Huskie
offense took on the Bulldog defense. A player from each side of the ball bowled
a frame for their respective teams. The Fresno State defense won the first
game, 122-116, while the Huskie offense and Fresno defense tied 145-145 in
edged out the Huskies, 267-261. However, Northern Illinois raised a combined
total of 1,244 pounds of beef for its two charities.
brief stop at the hotel, Northern Illinois then traveled across town to Barber
Park Events Center for a Welcome Barbecue. The players enjoyed pulled pork, brisket,
baked beans, fresh rolls and of course, potato salad. It was a fantastic meal!
evening in Boise ended for the team with a stop at the Gift Suite where the
Huskies picked up their bowl swag. Players received a parka, gloves, a
backpack, bowl hoodie and t-shirt among other items. The topper however, was
the electronics gift suite. The Huskies had five points in which to spend at
the table, with each item assigned a point value. For some, it was as one
player put it, "The toughest decision of my life."
If only life were that difficult.
agenda has the Huskies tubing at Bogus Basin Ski Resort, before heading off to
Boise State for their first practice of the week. They then head to Owyhee
Plaza Hotel for dinner.
A quiet group of Huskies boarded five buses at approximately
5:30 a.m. this morning for the first leg, and first day, of the bowl trip to
Boise, Idaho. The buses picked up the
group behind the Convocation Center and the most hazardous part of the trip may
have been the journey from the car to the bus across a sheet of ice while carrying,
or rolling, a bag carrying five days' worth of clothing.
Once filled, the buses set off for Rockford Airport where we
rolled onto the tarmac and a very chilly group of TSA employees were waiting
for the outdoor check-in procedure.
While it was slightly uncomfortable for those of us on the buses, it had
to be freezing for those folks who had to stand out in the sub-zero wind chill
for over an hour.
Everyone seemed to remember their ID and after a slight
delay due to an extra-large trunk carrying some additional cold weather capes
had to be partially emptied, the flight departed at approximately 9 a.m.
(CST). The pilot informed us that the
flying time was 3:22 and every seat on the plane was filled, with
administrators and coaches and their families at the front, followed by support
staff (doctors, athletic trainers, equipment staff) and finally players.
Unlike a "normal" road trip which is limited to 65 players
for MAC games and usually only a few more than that (72-74) for the
non-conference season, nearly every player on the 2010 roster was able to make
the Humanitarian Bowl trip. In fact, a
handful of staffers (including the Media Services crew who film practice,
marketing and ticket office staff), had to take a commercial flight. That group left campus at 3:30 am!
There were a handful of "first time" flyers on the trip
among the additional players, including rookie center Mike Gegner, junior
college transfer Matt Battaglia and snapper Brian Mayer. The group had a breakfast "snack" (bagel,
nutri-grain bar) immediately upon board the plane and once airborne, were
served a hot (well, semi-hot) breakfast of pancakes and sausage, orange juice,
grapefruit and croissant.
As the plane descended into Boise, passengers on the left
side of the plane got their first glimpse of the famous "blue turf" of Bronco
The Miami Air flight was smooth and Northern Illinois landed
in Boise at 11:30 am (Mountain Time).
The Huskies deplaned and got a full police escort to the hotel as
traffic was stopped along the highways for the city's special guests.
Upon arrival at the hotel, Gegner reported that he "really
enjoyed" the flight while Mayer said it was "fine" and that he slept almost the
We'll be back later to report on the "Bowl for
Beef" - a competitive bowling event between the teams - and the Welcome Dinner
and Gift Suite pick-up.
Jay Taft of the Rockford Register Star
filed his take on tomorrow night's MAC Championship in this story
Rick Armstrong has been a very busy man, pulling double duty working for the Beacon News and the Chicago Sun-Times. Armstrong caught up with former NIU head coach Joe Novak to find out where the Miami (OH) grad's loyalties will be on Friday in this feature story
He also has an outstanding feature
on NIU signal caller Chandler Harnish, that technically will run tomorrow, and this story
on Vern Smith Leadership Award winner and MAC Offensive Player of the Year Chad Spann.
There are a pair of features on the Chicago Tribune's
website today. Fred Mitchell posted his breakdown and prediction
of Friday night's (6 p.m. CST, ESPN2) 2010 MAC Championship game against Miami (OH).
Mitchell's colleague, David Haugh, wrote this excellent feature
of the Huskie's head man Jerry Kill. He talks about his rise from humble beginnings to one of the best at his profession.
As you may have already heard, NIU tailback Chad Spann earned the Mid-American Conference's Vern Smith Leadership Award
today. A former walk-on, who earned a scholarship two weeks into his freshman year, Spann joins former teammate Larry English and fellow Huskie tailback Garrett Wolfe. Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com had a post on his blog
today, as did Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com in her blog. Adelson went a step further naming the All-MAC Teams and specialty awards in her post
Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune posted his take
on the upcoming 2010 Marathon MAC Championship. Head coach Jerry Kill, linebacker Alex Kube and quarterback Chandler Harnish offer their keys to success against Miami (OH) Friday night.
Currently it's 22 degrees with flurries in DeKalb, Illinois. Right now in Detroit, it's a slightly warmer 30 degrees and cloudy. However, inside Ford Field, site of the 2010 MAC Championship, it's, well I'm not exactly sure, but I'm sure the thermostat is set above 65 degrees and no wind. Ideal conditions for a Huskie offense that has averaged 65 points a game the last three games in various weather conditions. As Jeremy Werner of the Daily Chronicle reports, the Huskies are looking forward to getting in out of the cold
at Ford Field.
When Jordan Lynch looks across at the opposite sideline in the 2010 MAC Championship Friday night at Ford Field, he'll see the face of a former teammate. Not one from Mt. Carmel, but from his other team. In the summer of 2009, Lynch was a member of USA Football's U-19 National Team that took the gold medal at the IFAF Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio.
Lynch was one of two safeties for the Red, White and Blue. The other safety on the squad was Pat Hinkel. Hinkel is the starting free safety for the Miami Redhawks. Joe Frollo of USA Football posted this story
on the former teammates today.