Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Bowl snub leaves NIU crying foul


UCF hires O'Leary

The Associated Press

CHICAGO - This was one upset Northern Illinois could not pull off.

As the final bowl pairings emerged, Huskies coach Joe Novak held out a sliver of hope his team would somehow find a place in college football's postseason.

But even with a 10-2 record and a non-conference win over No. 23 Maryland, Northern Illinois woke up Monday to the harsh reality that its season is officially over.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we have one of the best 56 teams in the country," Novak said. "I don't think a .500 team should get in over a team that won 10 games. Are you telling me they had a better season than us? Baloney."

Northern Illinois opened the season with wins over Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State and climbed to No. 12 in the rankings. The Huskies even made an appearance at No. 10 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

It all unraveled with a pair of Mid-American Conference losses.

After losing to Bowling Green and Toledo, Northern Illinois fell out of the Top 25.

"That's where the system is really unfair," said Novak, whose team went 8-4 last season and also missed out on a bowl. "It's time to look at this thing and make it better. We need to structure it so a team with 10 wins gets in. You can't tell me we shouldn't be in."

Only two teams from the MAC are guarantees bowl slots, and those went to Miami of Ohio and Bowling Green.

CENTRAL FLORIDA

ORLANDO, Fla. - Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George O'Leary, forced to leave Notre Dame two years ago because he falsified his resume, has been hired as head coach at the University of Central Florida.

O'Leary's hiring was to be officially announced at a press conference on Monday afternoon, sports information director John Marini said.

O'Leary came to the Vikings after a successful tenure at Georgia Tech, where he had a 52-33 record from 1994 to 2001. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2000 and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's top coach in 1998 and 2000.

UCF athletic director Steve Orsini was Georgia Tech's senior associate athletic director during O'Leary's tenure there.

O'Leary accepted the coaching job at Notre Dame in 2001 but resigned under pressure two weeks later after acknowledging he had falsified parts of his resume.

He was a coach at Syracuse between 1980 and 1986, with the San Diego Chargers from 1992 to 1993 and with the Minnesota Vikings since last year. He was hired in Minnesota by head coach Mike Tice, who played high school football for O'Leary in New York.

It wasn't known whether O'Leary would finish the season with Minnesota or depart immediately for UCF.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: An MSU recruit's grandfather told investigators that retired coach Jackie Sherrill offered to provide the player a car, the NCAA said in its report on rules violations by the football program.

MICHIGAN: Wearing a Detroit Lions hat and a Michigan letter jacket, Junior wideout Braylon Edwards said he is considering skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

BYU: Robbie Bosco, who led BYU to its only national title in 1984, is out as the Cougars' quarterbacks coach.

AWARDS: Oklahoma cornerback Derrick Strait won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday as the top defensive college football player of the year.

HAWAII: Coach June Jones will pull his team from the Hawaii Bowl if the school can't academically certify the players before the Christmas Day game.




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Bowl snub leaves NIU crying foul

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