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updated: 12/31/2012 5:14 PM

NIU legend Bork likes Huskies' chances

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  • Former all-American quarterback George Bork, who led an unbeaten 1963 NIU football team to the small college national title, believes the Huskies can compete with Florida State in their Orange Bowl matchup. Bork, who played at Arlington High School, was the first major college quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards.

      Former all-American quarterback George Bork, who led an unbeaten 1963 NIU football team to the small college national title, believes the Huskies can compete with Florida State in their Orange Bowl matchup. Bork, who played at Arlington High School, was the first major college quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards.
    Photo courtesy of NIU Athletics

 
 

Before there was Jordan Lynch and Chandler Harnish at Northern Illinois, there was George Bork.

The most prolific throwing quarterback of his time and a member of the college football Hall of Fame, Bork will be watching Tuesday night along with thousands of other NIU alums as the Huskies take on Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

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Bork agrees that it's going to be the biggest football game in school history.

"It's a pretty big deal," Bork said. "It's amazing if you think about it. A (Mid-American Conference) team like Northern playing in a major bowl game like this. It's just tremendous. It's tremendous for the university, the football program and really for the MAC, too."

Bork, the legend from Arlington High School, held nearly every passing record at NIU until Harnish came along and shattered many of them. Now Lynch is making his assault on the Huskies' record book.

Bork, a retired teacher and former golf coach at Prospect High School, attended several games at NIU this season and came away quite impressed with Lynch, the junior from Mount Carmel High School.

"He's something else," Bork said. "He's as tough as tough can be. He's like a combination of quarterback, running back, linebacker; he's so strong and such a punishing runner. And he's actually a very good thrower."

Bork knows a thing or two about throwing the football. He led the 1963 Huskies to the small college national championship throwing the ball all over the place.

"Running was not in my vocabulary," Bork said. "All passing, that was me. We ran a spread offense out of the shotgun. We were kind of on the cutting edge of it, a lot of throwing. We were kind of pioneers. I think one ballgame we threw the ball 68 times, and back in those days that was unheard of. "

Bork gives credit to former Huskies head coach Joe Novak for turning the NIU program into what it is today.

"When he took over they were kind of in the depths," Bork said. "He got them back and he did it the right way. He didn't come in and rob the junior colleges. His recruiting classes were excellent, and it's all snowballed into a tremendously successful program."

Bork believes NIU can compete with the Seminoles.

"I think they can play with Florida State," Bork said. "Florida State, obviously, year in and year out is a great football program with great teams, but I think Northern has a really good team, too. It'll be interesting to watch."

Bork was such a force in his day that Sports Illustrated did a feature story on him. He says there is a comparison to be made between that and what's happening now with NIU being in the national spotlight.

"There's a parallel," Bork said. "We kind of got it started, though on a much smaller basis. This can be another starting point for NIU football. I can see it that way. It's a solid program that's going to be around for a long time.

"I think (new coach) Rod Carey will keep the tradition going. The players have a lot of respect for him and want to play for him. I think he'll just continue the legacy Joe Novak put in, and Jerry Kill and Dave Doeren. I think he'll just be another step."

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