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College football: New book chronicles NIU history

'NIU Football' by Naperville author Dan Verdun is scheduled for March release. | Image courtesy NIU Press.

"NIU Football" by Naperville author Dan Verdun is scheduled for a March release. | Image courtesy of NIU Press.

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Updated: March 2, 2013 6:21AM

Funny how things work out, marvels Dan Verdun.

What originally was a disappointing delay in the publication of his first book — “NIU Football” — by Northern Illinois University Press has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the first-time author.

It gave Verdun, a teacher by day in Naperville, time to capitalize on one more season of Huskie football. It was a season that gave him a storybook finish he never dreamed could happen when he proposed to take advantage of his fascination with history and sports to write a history of the mid-major program.

“It was the summer of 2009 and I wanted to combine those two loves, but I figured I had to come up with an idea no one has done,” he said. “My original idea was to do one book on all five of the football programs at the state schools, Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western and Illinois State.”

Several publishers rejected his proposal, but one (NIU Press) liked it, except they wanted him to do five separate books.

“They proposed starting with Northern, obviously, because they were from Northern, but also because the Huskies had been the most successful program in the previous decade,” Verdun said.

He felt he had a good ending when NIU won its first Mid-American Conference title in 28 years after the 2011 season and followed it with a win over Arkansas State in the Bowl.

“We were originally gonna publish at the beginning of the 2012 season,” he said, before he was informed there would be a delay.

“Like everybody, NIU Press has dealt with budget issues. At the time, I was pretty disappointed. I wondered how they would top last year. Well, they topped it.”

Did they ever, busting the Bowl Championship Series and becoming the first one-loss team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to get an invite to a BCS bowl game, playing Florida State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Verdun, who teaches language arts and geography at Crone Middle School and lives in Naperville, was able to update the book to include the fantastic season and subsequent coaching change.

He interviewed more than 50 different players, coaches and people involved with the program and the book includes a foreword by former head coach Joe Novak.

“Interestingly enough, the first college football game I ever attended was in 1979 when Navy played at the University of Illinois,” Verdun said. “And Novak was a member of (Illini coach) Gary Moeller’s staff that year.”

The book is scheduled to be out in March, but NIU Press is offering a 30 percent discount for all customers who order a copy of the book by Thursday, lowering the price from $28.95 to $20.27.

Customers must mention the special code “ORANGE BOWL” to receive the discount. For more information, call (800) 621-2736 or e-mail:

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