Even though this might be a long offseason with few source material to go off of, we're in this sucker for the long haul. No matter how crazy stuff can get in the RL. Commence:
Looking in the rear-view mirror. Northern Star reporter Ben Gross reflects back on his 5 years covering NIU athletics. His reasons for coming here were eerily close to my own:
When I decided on NIU, my parents, both Northern graduates, asked, "Why there if you could go anywhere?" My answer? "Football."
In reality, it was more complex. NIU provided me with scholarships that made school affordable, I was admitted to the Honors program and thought this would provide an education equivalent to North Central and Bradley, and I wanted the "normal" college experience.
But football was a reason I came to NIU. As a freshman, I never missed a single home game. So in the fall of 2005, when I was offered a position as a sports reporter at the Northern Star, I jumped at the chance. I started by covering women’s volleyball — to this day the best beat I ever covered.
2005 was also the first year I began to start seriously following Northern Illinois sports. He is a journalist I respect deeply and hope that he will continue writing about NIU to some extent (hey, why not here?). His articles were always well thought out and you could hear his unique voice when you read them.
As I say goodbye, I ask you, the readers, to remember this about the Star. DeKalb is lucky to have two papers. The Northern Star and the Daily Chronicle push each other, and I think no more so than in sports. But don’t forget which paper usually makes the initial push.
Gross was a unique treat for NIU fans. All though he might have had a few critics, he always sought the truth and was one hell of a storyteller.
Living in a post-Carol Owens world. I am admittedly still numb to her announcement because I don't think anybody saw this coming. Money and business had nothing to do with this, as Owens left $300,000 on the table by not finishing out her contract for the next two years. It was strictly a personal decision and AD Jeff Compher will conduct a national search for the next coach.
Owens herself was a hall of fame player at NIU from 1985-1990. She put her heart and soul into this program and graduated her players. In her five years here, she compiled a 66-81 record. Outside of NIU, she gathered 4 gold medals for Team USA squads, two of which she was head coach. As for her replacement, I see the Huskies looking at a coach looking to move up from having success at a smaller program.
A retirement that was more expected. Dave Grant will be stepping down as head wrestling coach in 2011 after a 14-year career at NIU. Attending one of his summer wrestling camps in high school was the first time that I had ever visited the Northern Illinois campus and I thank him for those opportunities.
"Wrestling has changed my life and created so many opportunities for me," Grant said. "Northern Illinois has been a great place, and I love this program and the student-athletes. We took a program that in 1996 was in desperate need of rebuilding and have transformed it into a nationally-competitive team."
Grant said he looks forward to his 15th season at Northern Illinois as the Huskies will play host to the Mid-American Conference Wrestling Championships at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.
After a year of inexperience and injuries, the wrestling team is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing season and make Grant go out with a bang. Hopefully the Huskies can will themselves back into a top-25 ranking again considering the fact that we live smack dab in the middle of a recruiting hotbed.
"We have a strong group of seniors and letterwinners returning next season," Grant said. "We plan to have a great year and make a run for the title. With the completion of the world-class wrestling room [in 2009], a top-notch staff and the student-athletes we have in our program, everything is in place to take Northern Illinois wrestling to the next level."
"The Victors" happened, but I must have forgot to TIVO it. NIU's brand new ESPY-inspired awards ceremony was a success. Awards of note: defensive end Jake Coffman and goalkeeper Lindsey Curnock won respective athlete of the year honors. Men's Soccer and Women's Gymnastics won teams of the year as well.
Around the MAC/Big 11/12
Cincinnati & Notre Dame apparently are "Bigger and Better" places than Central Michigan. Cincinnati maybe, but Notre Dame? I don't think so... Akron defensive end Shawn Lemon decides to transfer after being sent an inadvertent text message by head coach Rob Ianello... Illinois starting offensive tackle Corey Lewis suffered a torn ACL in Illinois' spring game last week... The Daily Gopher recaps how the offense performed in Minnesota's Spring Game