Northwestern assistant could miss bowl

Northwestern defensive line coach Marty Long could miss the Outback Bowl after undergoing emergency surgery last week.

The second-year assistant hasn't returned to practice as he recovers from the procedure. Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz has been overseeing the line during Long's absence.

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald released the following statement to ESPN.com earlier today:

"Marty and his family are in our thoughts and prayers on a daily basis, and we're wishing him a speedy recovery -- that's our chief concern right now. He continues to improve and get better each day, which is very encouraging. At this time, however, it's too early to know about his coaching role in Tampa."

Long, 45, has been instrumental in Northwestern's improvement on defense the past two seasons.

The Wildcats face Auburn on Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl (ESPN, 11 a.m. ET).