Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren will find time to sleep next week.
He’s too busy to worry about it this week. This week is all about recruiting. He will be boarding planes, and driving rental cars. He will be standing in a recruit’s living room in Memphis, Tenn., selling Northern Illinois on one night, traveling to Palm Beach, Fla., to do the same the following night and then flying to Chicago to do it again the next night.
In between, he will make phone calls to recruits, check in with his assistants who are also on the road recruiting, examine his recruiting list countless times.
“There’s not a lot of sleeping going on,” said Doeren, who had time to talk while driving from one Florida recruiting meeting to another on Tuesday.
Most college football coaches throughout the country are living similar lives this week as they attempt to secure their final commitments before National Signing Day on Feb. 3. Doeren’s is slightly more hectic having only been hired as the Huskies coach on Dec. 13. His hourglass started with little, and it’s running out quickly.
“You don’t have the same opportunity to sell your school as you normally would,” Doeren said. “You have to slam it into a three-week window or less. It makes it extremely hard. We’re battling teams who have been on guys for 12 months or more. We’re walking in with two weeks to go and trying to change their minds, and that’s tough.”
Doeren does have an advantage -- he isn’t selling a damaged product. He isn’t rebuilding at Northern Illinois, he’s reloading. The Huskies recently crushed Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl, have been to three consecutive bowl games five of the past seven years and can point to players such as Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner and San Diego Chargers linebacker Larry English as recent success stories.
Doeren also is using his own resume to persuade recruits. As defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, the Badgers were among the best defensive teams in the country. Wisconsin was 25th in scoring defense this season and a major reason the Badgers were co-Big Ten champs. Wisconsin was fifth in rushing defense last season and second in the scoring defense in 2006.
“You have a lot to offer,” Doeren said. “We have great academics, new facilities, building a new indoor facility. We’re a winning program. There’s a lot to brag about.”
Illinois and the Midwest are Doeren’s main target areas. In the past few weeks, he has been to St. Louis, Kansas City and all around Illinois. He’s also recruiting players in Tennessee and Florida, which was a recruiting base of his when at Wisconsin.
With a week to go, Doeren has made progress. He received a commitment from one of the top junior college running backs, Jamal Womble, in late December. He also picked up commitments from Dwyer (Fla.) wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, C.B.C. (Mo.) center Andrew Ness, Webster Groves (Mo.) linebacker Jason Meehan, Sandburg (Ill.) kicker Taylor Zalewski, Fort Zumwalt West (Mo.) wide receiver Devonte Majors, Port Huron (Mich.) linebacker Dominic Schultz in the past weeks.
There are about a dozen or so players still deciding on whether they will commit to Northern Illinois.
“We’re on a lot of kids who are down to us and another school,” Doeren said. “We have 14-15 [commitments] now and could get another 5-8.”
It’s also why Doeren isn’t sleeping much this week.
“Every minute is a roller coaster,” he said. “You get the good call or the bad call.”