Welcome to The Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU's 125th anniversary.
In the 1960s, NIU head football coach Howard Fletcher led a streak of nine consecutive winning seasons, with conference championships in 1963, ‘64, and ‘65; and the Mineral Water Bowl appearances in 1962, ‘63 and ’65. But he is most remembered for his perfect 10-0 season in 1963. Fletcher’s success bumped NIU up to NCAA University Division status and also secured a much-needed new stadium.
Fletcher owed a lot of his achievement to star quarterback George Bork. In 1963, Bork became the first collegiate passer to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season--at any level of American football--and he was featured in national publications such as Sports Illustrated and Time.
Despite NIU’s success, its football team still played on outdated Glidden Field, located east of Gilbert Hall, where the art and music buildings now stand. The field dated back to the school’s founding, accommodated only 5,000 fans, and did not meet NCAA standards. So NIU sought to capitalize on Fletcher and Bork’s success and campaigned for a new stadium dubbed “the house that Bork built.”
The groundbreaking ceremony took place in January 1964 and the new stadium opened the following year. It was officially named “Huskie Stadium” in 1974, which lead players and coaches to nickname it “The Doghouse.”