Ready for round two?
Two months ago, Northern Illinois Huskies athletic director Sean T. Frazier announced a new batch of home-and-home football series in what was called "SchedulePalooza." This week-long frenzy led to future NIU games with San Diego State, BYU, Utah and Maryland. A home-and-home set with Boston College was revealed a few weeks back. When SchedulePalooza came to an end, Frazier said that every good show needs an encore... which brings us to today.
"SchedulePalooza Encore" began this morning, and in the same vein as the original incarnation, clues about the new opponent were released on NIU's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites prior to the school being revealed. So what opened the Encore? The Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
TheAthletic Conference makes its first appearance on the NIU schedule, with the series beginning in Tulsa in 2022 and concluding in DeKalb in 2023. The two programs have never met. While the Golden Hurricane doesn't draw an immediate round of applause, here's Frazier on why it's important to put Tulsa on the schedule, and vice versa:
"In this era of the College Football Playoff, it's important to have teams from other Group of 5 leagues on our schedule, and this series with Tulsa accomplishes that goal."
Tulsa's been an above-average program in recent years, posting winning seasons in seven of their last nine seasons (all in Conference USA), but finished just 3-9 last year and are off to a rough start this season. Keeping in mind this series is eight years away, Tulsa certainly isn't a hair-raising addition. Then again, Hurricane fans are likely saying the same thing.
In the first installment, San Diego State provided the first bar that the rest of the opponents announced that week cleared. We'll see if Tulsa takes the same roll in the Encore, with more announcements coming the rest of this week.
And a hearty handshake to Frazier for reviving this social media frenzy during NIU's off-week. This is modern-day sports promotion at its finest. A tip of the hat should also go to the opponent schools for allowing Frazier and the NIU athletic department to go about announcing these games in this manner, rather than the typical joint press release.
More to come.