Chicago Colleges: Dave Doeren

Big Ten viewer’s guide: Week 7

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
Week 7 is here, and let’s not sugarcoat it: Big Ten football has looked more interesting on other weekends. This first Saturday of the season without nonconference action lacks marquee matchups. Still, the division races will continue to take shape.

Here’s a look at the five games (all times Eastern):


Illinois (3-3) and Wisconsin (3-2), ESPN2: Will Melvin Gordon run for 300 yards? If the Badgers wanted it to happen, Illinois’ 119th-ranked rushing defense would likely comply. More of the intrigue in Madison involves the quarterbacks. For Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who returned last week against Northwestern, will see time, in addition to Tanner McEvoy, who might also take a shot at receiver. And with Illinois’ Wes Lunt out with a fractured leg, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, who was set to redshirt, have competed in practice this week.

Indiana (3-2) and Iowa (4-1), ESPNU: Indiana has shown it can win on the road in tough spots, handing Missouri its lone loss on Sept. 20. The Hoosiers are more explosive on offense than any foe Iowa has faced. But Indiana still can’t defend well, in particular against proficient quarterbacks. The Hawkeyes are going back to Jake Rudock at the start, but C.J. Beathard will play. How well can Greg Davis manage this? If it’s a disaster, Indiana might just find itself in the right place at the right time for an upset bid.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cobb
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesDavid Cobb and Minnesota can take a big step in their quest for a Western Division crown by beating Northwestern on Saturday.
Northwestern (3-2) at Minnesota (4-1), BTN: Who would have guessed a month ago, as the Golden Gophers fell flat at TCU and the Wildcats sat winless, that this game would have legitimate implications for the West Division title race? It does, with NU in quest of a third straight unexpected win to open league play. Its defense led the charge against Penn State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is simply solid, led by David Cobb, statistically the league’s most valuable offensive player. Minnesota has defended the pass especially well in recent games and will test Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, 13th in the Big Ten in QBR.

3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) at Purdue (3-3), ESPN2: At least it’s not the best team in the Big Ten against the worst. Purdue escaped the low spot last week with a win over Illinois. And sophomore quarterback Austin Appleby looked good in the victory. Very good, in fact. Back at home, he figures to find a much more difficult situation against the Spartans, who might come in a bit angry after nearly blowing a 24-point, fourth-quarter lead against Nebraska.

7 p.m.

Penn State (4-1) at Michigan (2-4), ESPN2: The visitors from Happy Valley, after an off week, get an opportunity to show that their anemic performance against Northwestern was just a fluke. With an upcoming stretch of three challenging games, no better time exists for PSU to get healthy than at Michigan, trying to avoid its first 0-3 start in the Big Ten since 1965. Against a good Penn State front, the Wolverines must protect Devin Gardner and throw the football, neither of which they’ve done well in recent weeks.

Required reading

NIU's Carey remains busy after BCS hoopla

February, 6, 2013
Rod CareyAP Photo/J Pat CarterNIU coach Rod Carey hasn't seen things slow down since the Orange Bowl.
The media attention around Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey has eased up since the Huskies’ appearance in the Orange Bowl last month, but it doesn’t mean Carey has been left with nothing to do.

As someone who was only made the team’s head coach in December, Carey has found plenty of tasks to keep him busy.

“People have asked me, ‘Has it slowed down for you?’” Carey said by phone on Tuesday. “It’s actually picked up quickly after the bowl game. We had to put together a staff and finish off recruiting. It’s actually more busy than before. It doesn’t seem that way from the outside.”

(Read full post)

NIU confident about finding a quality coach

December, 1, 2012
Northern Illinois' second consecutive MAC championship celebration came to a halt less than 24 hours after it began as Huskies coach Dave Doeren announced Saturday he was leaving for North Carolina State.

Doeren's move wasn't unexpected. With Doeren’s 23-4 overall record and 15-1 conference mark in two seasons and the Huskies knocking on the BCS door this year, Huskies athletic director Jeff Compher even said recently he understood Doeren was going to be a hot commodity very soon.

"If you look at some of the best football programs in our conference, many major universities and conferences come chomping in the MAC," Compher said in November. "That's what we anticipate down the road. Whether or not that's something this year or five years down the road, we always have to be prepared for that."

(Read full post)

NIU coach Doeren makes name for himself

November, 13, 2012
Dave DoerenMike DiNovo/US PresswireDave Doeren has guided Northern Illinois to becoming one of the nation's most successful programs over the past two seasons.

When Northern Illinois athletic director Jeff Compher hired Dave Doeren as football coach in December 2010, Compher knew he’d likely be undertaking another coaching search in the not-too-distant future.

It’s the cruel truth that comes with being in the Mid-American Conference. Once you have a quality football coach, it’s only a matter of time before a BCS program snatches that coach away.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly were once in the MAC. Every MAC Coach of the Year from 2007-2010 -- Turner Gill, Brady Hoke, Al Golden, Mike Haywood -- departed for more high-profile jobs. Even Compher’s hire of Doeren was the result of Jerry Kill leaving the Huskies for Minnesota after three consecutive bowl berths.

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Andrew Weber/US PresswireDave Doeren led Northern Illinois to a MAC championship in his first season as coach.
And now, in Doeren’s second season at Northern Illinois, Compher appears bound to deal with that reality sooner than later.

As the Huskies head into Wednesday’s MAC matchup with Toledo at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2, Doeren has guided them to becoming one of the nation’s most successful programs over the past two seasons. The Huskies own the country’s longest home winning streak at 20 games and the longest conference winning streak at 14 games. Northern Illinois, Alabama and Oregon are the only Football Bowl Subdivision programs to win 18 of their last 19 games.

“If you look at some of the best football programs in our conference, many major universities and conferences come chomping in the MAC,” said Compher, who became athletic director in June 2008. “That’s what we anticipate down the road. Whether or not that’s something this year or five years down the road, we always have to be prepared for that. We’re very happy with Dave. We want him to stay a long time.”

(Read full post)

Northern Illinois' communications department kicked off a Heisman Trophy campaign for Huskies junior quarterback Jordan Lynch on Wednesday.

"Yes, we are definitely starting a campaign for Jordan," Northern Illinois associate athletic director for communications Donna Turner wrote in an e-mail on Wednesday. "At this point, we definitely feel like what he is doing for our team is worthy of mention and comparable to any other quarterback in the country.

"We're working up a website, Facebook page (Jordan Lynch for 6), using the hashtag #VoteLynch and will be getting him out to do some media locally and nationally (interviews, etc.). We also will have multiple videos, including a weekly 'Lunch with Lynch.' A lot of these are still in developmental stages, but we're having fun with it and raising awareness of not only Jordan Lynch, but of Northern Illinois Football!"

Lynch currently leads the country in total offensive yards (3,169), is No. 2 in rushing yards (1,185), No. 1 in touchdowns responsible for with 32 (rushing and passing), broke the NCAA record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback with seven, tied Garrett Wolfe for the school record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games in a season, has thrown 146 passes over five games without an interception, has thrown 17 touchdowns to three interceptions, is No. 1 in the MAC and No. 23 nationally with a 152.2 passing efficiency, is No. 16 nationally with 10.0 points a game and the Huskies are 8-1 this season.

"I think the guy should be on the Heisman list," Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren said recently. "He's close to breaking the all-time record for quarterbacks in rushing, throws four TDs, averages 130-plus a game (rushing). He doesn't turn the football over, he's playing so hard and ... he's a clutch player. I love the guy.

"There wasn't a lot of attention on him (earlier this season) because he hadn't earned it yet. You have to have a body of work, and now he does. If he can keep doing it, and we can keep winning while he's doing it, then he'll be a guy that's in those conversations and he deserves to be. The people that compete against him, they know where I'm coming from. A lot of running quarterbacks don't throw the ball well, so teams put everybody in there, and they stop him. Last week, he threw for four touchdowns. He threw for a bunch (of yards) against Army, who put everybody in (the box). Teams that want to play back in coverage, then he runs."
It was a hope and wish game.

Devon Butler lay bleeding in the hallway of his friend's apartment, an innocent bystander and hero all in one.

Minutes earlier, his friend called him into the bedroom to look out the window at a black truck circling outside. Butler stopped playing his video game to try and help.

The same truck had stopped his friend earlier in the day, the men inside asking about a drug transaction. His friend said they had the wrong guy.

Now the black truck was back.

They did not know what was happening, but they knew they should leave the bedroom. As they walked toward the door, they heard gunshots. His friend froze. Butler, acting quickly, threw him down the hallway.

One bullet pierced the window and hit Butler in the back, knocking him into the next room. Blood pooled around him. He shouted, "Call 911! Call 911!" and tried desperately to stay awake.

[+] EnlargeNorthern Illinois' Devon Butler
Scott Walstrom/NIU Media Services"Nobody ever knew if I was going to be able to come back or if things would work out," Devon Butler said of getting shot.

"It was like a hope and wish game."

"I thought if I closed my eyes and laid back, it wouldn't end up well," Butler said in a recent phone interview. "As long as I'm awake for a lot of it, I felt I would be fine. So I tried not to close my eyes, and tried to keep fighting as long as I could."

He thought of his mother. His family. Of his Northern Illinois teammates. He thought, "There is no way it is my time to go."

It was April 5, 2011.

It was a hope and wish game.

By the time Butler arrived at the hospital, he was in critical condition. New Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren, on the job a handful of months, made his way to see Butler. So did position coach Tom Matukewicz.

Doctors met with the two coaches and told them they needed to operate on Butler as soon as he stabilized. Of major concern was a collapsed lung.

"They told us to say our goodbyes," Doeren recalled in a phone interview. "So the three of us held hands and prayed."

Butler remained in critical condition for several days before finally improving. Two Northern Illinois students were arrested in connection with the shooting, in what has been described as a drug deal gone bad. Football, however, is all Butler thought about in those first few days. When his teammates came to visit, he immediately asked, "How was practice?"

Doeren would drop off tapes for Butler to watch. Butler, impatient to the end, could not get out of his hospital bed without help. But he knew for certain he would get back onto that football field.

"Nobody ever knew if I was going to be able to come back or if things would work out," Butler said.

"It was like a hope and wish game."

With family in New Jersey and Florida, Butler needed somebody in town to help care for him as he recovered. Matukewicz stepped in. Northern Illinois was granted a special waiver from the NCAA to allow Butler to live with his coach until he could be on his own.

Butler had developed a close relationship with Matuekwicz during the recruiting process. While many schools backed off Butler because of academic concerns, Matukewicz appeared at the high school guidance counselor's office one day with a list of classes Butler would have to pass to attend Northern Illinois.
He passed those classes and then Matukewicz helped him flourish on the field when he arrived on campus. During his sophomore season in 2010 he started 13 games in the middle while earning All-MAC honors. Before he got shot, Butler had his best practice of the spring. After the shooting, nobody knew for sure if he would play again.

"It's like cold water in the face," said Matukewicz, now defensive coordinator at Toledo. "The reality is you really don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I do remember after that practice, the linebackers were together. Each kid talks a little bit, and he said, 'I took this off film. It was one of the better practices I had.' And a day, later he’s laying in the hospital."

Matukewicz and his wife cared for Butler as if he was their son. His wife changed his bandages for the first week he was at their home. Once Butler started feeling better, "It was like living with a teenager," Matukewicz said. "I would come home, and he would have my recliner 6 inches away from a 50-inch flat screen playing Madden."

Butler stayed with them for several months before going home to his family. When he returned to Northern Illinois, Butler had no doubt he would play football again, even though he had to redshirt the 2011 season. Sitting out allowed him to focus on his grades, and become a student of the game. He did much more film study, while also working his way back into shape.

He was finally allowed to join his teammates on the football field for bowl practices, without contact. That first day back during a seven-on-seven drill, Butler got an interception. "That was the highlight of the whole week," Butler said.

Butler, of course, needed more. He continued to work, his impatience driving him, until he got clearance to resume full-contact practice this spring.

Amazingly -- a year to the day since he got shot -- Butler has reclaimed his starting middle linebacker job. Doeren says Butler is better today than he was a year ago.

"When you love the game as much as he loves it, and it is taken away from you, then your perspective changes," Doeren said. "The way he has approached things, he knows how precious things are now. There is a greater sense of urgency."

Doeren uses the word miracle. Butler uses the phrase "story of my life."

"I have been through a lot of adversity," Butler said. "I don't do well when things are just given to me and things are easy. I feel I do a lot better under pressure. It makes me have no choice but to do well, to prove everybody wrong, to get things going the way they need to be. I realized that at a young age. Once I knew that I was going to be OK, I knew I didn't have anywhere to go but up. I knew I would still be able to play football, and I didn't let anything else stop me."

It was a hope and wish game.

Hope fulfilled. Wish granted.

Doeren's first season at NIU a big success

January, 6, 2012
Before Northern Illinois first-year coach Dave Doeren could win a game, a MAC championship or a bowl, he realized he first had to win over his players. Doeren understood that wouldn’t be easy, either.

He wasn’t replacing a fired coach at a losing program. His predecessor, Jerry Kill, had led the Huskies to a school-record 11 wins and a bowl victory. The way Kill did things was proven and trusted by his players.

Doeren tried to keep around some of what Kill did to help the transition. At the same time, he also had his own way of doing things, and that wasn’t negotiable. He felt out his players; his players felt out him. Eventually, the Huskies learned to trust Doeren just as they did Kill.

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Andrew Weber/US PresswireDave Doeren led Northern Illinois to a MAC championship in his first season as coach.
On Sunday, Doeren and his players will go to battle together again when they face Arkansas State in the Bowl.

“It took time,” Doeren said. “I told them that I needed them to be flexible. I’m not their old head coach. These coaches aren’t their old assistant coaches. Some things were hard. Some things were easy. Everyone can now see they were good changes.”

Senior offensive lineman Keith Otis felt he and his teammates did have a previous allegiance to Kill.

“Anything coach Kill said, once the senior leadership was behind it, everyone got in line,” Otis said. “In his case, guys bought into things, but it was also because we were successful in those things.”

Doeren’s changes, such as speeding up the offense, were most difficult for Northern Illinois’ seniors. They had become accustomed to Kill’s style of play.

Northern Illinois senior wide receiver Willie Clark never resisted Doeren’s changes, but he admitted they weren’t easy to embrace initially.

“The big one was the no-huddle thing,” Clark said. “We were running 10 plays more than we did last year. That’s always a big thing. They’re just different coaches with different philosophies on offense and defense.”

The Huskies started to warm up to Doeren and his style a bit during spring practice and even more so in early goings of their fall camp. By the time the season rolled around, they were united.

Clark expected that outcome.

“It’s always hard when you have someone new, and someone changes what had been working,” Clark said. “At the same time, you don’t have a choice. We had to buy into what our coaches were telling us. We bought it, and it’s been a success for us. We won a MAC championship for the first time in 28 years. I definitely say we bought in.”

Otis is optimistic their success is just the beginning for Northern Illinois under Doeren.

“I just really hope overall as a group of seniors we can continue to leave our mark as a class that laid the groundwork for a program that becomes special down the road,” Otis said.

Mailbag: NIU football coach Dave Doeren

December, 28, 2011
Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren answered readers’ mailbag questions this week at as he prepares for the Jan. 8 bowl against the Arkansas State in Mobile, Ala.

How do you prep for a team that will have an interim coach along with a new head coach who could also be on the sidelines? – John, Glendale Heights, Ill.

Dave Doeren:
Because they retained David Gunn on the new staff and he was already the named interim coach and with 24 seniors, you operate under the assumption not a lot will change, especially with Gus Malzahn coaching players at Auburn. I don’t expect him to be really involved in what they do offensively.

Coach, I was in Detroit for the game, and the comeback was even more amazing after being able to watch the replay on ESPN. There were several great athletic plays, but I thought the interception by Jimmie Ward (he covered a lot of ground to get that ball) and "The Catch" by Perez Ashford stood out. Could you comment on how you saw the game after being able to see the film? Congrats. – Dan, Elk Grove Village, Ill.

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Peter G. Aiken/US PRESSWIRENorthern Illinois coach Dave Doeren is preparing the Huskies for the bowl.
First, thank you. I agree on both plays. I thought Jimmie’s play was a huge play motivation-wise. Perez’s play was an amazing catch on the sidelines. Chandler Harnish put the ball only where he could it get it, so it was a great throw as well.

When will the indoor practice facility break ground? And without an IPF, practice for the bowls typically is an issue, but since it has been unseasonably warm in Chicago this year have you been practicing indoors, outdoors or both? – Tom, Chicago

We’ve been practicing both. Mostly our offense likes to deal with throws that are under bowl-like conditions. Our defense and special teams have been practicing outside. The weather has made it a lot easier than it has been, I’ve been told. With the IPF, they’d like to break ground in the spring when the ground thaws. That’s not official, though.

Is Arkansas State comparable to any team you've faced this year? – DeAnte Mitchell, Manhattan, Kan.

I would say they’re similar to Toledo skill-wise. They’re very similar to other teams we’ve faced scheme-wise.

What effect if any does winning the MAC Championship or bowl games have on recruiting? – Kevin, Bloomington, Ill.

I think it has a huge effect especially when you win close games that are fun to watch and keep people there the whole game. Players want to play at schools that win and win championships, and they want to be in bowl games. NIU has a tradition of being in bowl games. I don’t think there are many conference champions in Division I football. To say you’re a champion in Division I, that says a lot.

A win is most important, but how much attention is there on Chandler's chance to be the first QB to rush for 1,500 yards and pass for 3,000 in a single season? As a fan, I'd love to see that record belong to NIU. – Kurt, Gurnee, Ill.

Obviously, we’d love to see it as well. That’s not how we’ve got there. We’ve got here by running our offense. We hope Chandler has success. If we get close, I’m sure we’ll try to make it happen for him. But that won’t be the goal of our game plan by any means.

Mr. Doeren, how can you use the program's success in the MAC recently (winning the title) and in past years to move Northern Illinois on to even greater heights and earn national recognition? – Alec, Chicago

I believe you just keep winning to do that. To get national recognition, you can’t be an every-now-and-then team. You have to be consistent. We’ve had back-to-back 10-win seasons. If we continue to be around 10 wins, we’ll have that. That’s our goal.

Hey coach, thanks for all the great memories this season. What steps does your defense need to take in order to be dominant for next season? Go Huskies! – Anthony Bertolini, Chicago

I think continue to do what they’ve done the last two games. Not give up big plays, create turnovers, be consistent, tackle well and make plays in coverage and have the ability to continue to stop the run and stop the pass.

NIU's offense is explosive, but Arkansas State's defense consists of Brandon Joiner who is a Sun Belt defensive player of the year. How will NIU's Harnish face off against such player? – Manhtan Kadadia, DeKalb, Ill.

It’s going to be a challenge for us. They’re the best defense we’ve played since Wisconsin. There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to have our hands full. We’re going to have to execute, use our players on the perimeter and us our tempo to make them run.

The offense had struggled in the last couple games. Why do you think they have struggled so much? How do you and coach Canada plan to change this against Arkansas State? Please don’t leave NIU anytime soon. – Ryan Gibbons, Park Ridge, Ill.

We have to relax. The guys need to run the plays how we’ve run them in practice and not press too much, which I think has happened with the offense. Anything you’d like to add coach?

Just I appreciate all their support this season and hope as many of them as possible can find a way down to Mobile to support us.

NIU's Doeren worth a look for Illini

November, 29, 2011
[+] EnlargeNorthern Illinois coach Dave Doeren
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIRENorthern Illinois coach Dave Doeren has Big Ten ties and head coaching experience.
Northern Illinois won't want to hear this, but Illinois should give Huskies first-year coach Dave Doeren a look to replace Ron Zook.

Like a number of the candidates floated for the Illini's opening, Doeren has Big Ten ties. Prior to being hired by Northern Illinois, he was at Wisconsin for five seasons. He was the Badgers' defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Wisconsin's defense was constantly among the Big Ten's best under Doeren. The Badgers ranked third in the Big Ten in scoring defense last season. His 2008 rush defense ranked first in the Big Ten and fifth in the country. The Badgers were No. 2 in scoring defense in then nation in 2006. Wisconsin played in five bowl games during his time there.

Unlike Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, two other potential Illinois candidates, Doeren does now have head coaching experience. It's only one season, but Doeren knows what's it like to be in charge of a program.

Doeren showed this season he has what it takes to be a head coach, too. After starting out 2-3, the Huskies won their last seven games, which included wins over Western Michigan and Toledo, took the MAC West title and are favored in this week's MAC championship.

Northern Illinois' offense has been among the nation's best this season. It's No. 11 in the country with 39.6 points per game. Its defense hasn't been as stellar, giving up 32 points a contest. But that probably can be overlooked. The Huskies' defense was young and inexperienced this season, and Doeren has proven himself as a defensive mind.

Doeren would also provide a recruiting advantage in-state. For the last year, he's been making the rounds of Illinois high schools. He may not have had a shot at the same high-end players Illinois did, but he's been creating relationships with a lot of the same programs. Northern Illinois has eight in-state recruits in its 2012 class.

The one hurdle could be a financial one. After losing head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota last season, the Huskies made sure the next school that comes for their coach will have to pay him handsomely.

Illinois would have to give Northern Illinois $1 million to buy Doeren out of his five-year contract after one season. But for a school that will be playing Zook $2.6 million to not coach, that doesn't seem like a whole lot of money.

Even if Doeren isn't interested or Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas goes in another direction, Doeren's worth looking into. With his background in the Big Ten and success so far in the MAC, he has the making of a future Big Ten head coach. It just depends whether it's at Illinois or somewhere else.

Onside gamble doesn't pay off for Huskies

September, 17, 2011

CHICAGO -- The hardest part for Northern Illinois when it reviews Saturday’s 49-7 loss to Wisconsin won’t be re-watching the Badgers score seven touchdowns, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson's brilliance or all the Huskies’ dropped passes.

Sure, none of that will be fun to endure again.

But what will really get to the Huskies’ stomachs will be the replay -- and likely slow-motion replay -- of Northern Illinois’ failed onside kick attempt. The No. 7 Badgers may have been too much for Northern Illinois no matter the play’s outcome, but the Huskies would love to know how the game would have played out if the ball had bounced their way.

It certainly was already on their minds minutes after the game.

“I think if we get the onside kick -- and I’m not blaming anyone -- it could have been a game-changer,” Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish said.

Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren had planned the onside kick days before. Having been Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator for five years, he understood the Badgers’ personnel as well as anyone. He thought the only way his Huskies would be able to compete with Wisconsin was to tire its massive linemen.

Doeren’s idea to achieve that was to score early, onside the ball, recover it and go down the field again for another quick touchdown. If the Huskies accomplished that, Doeren believed his team had a chance.
On Northern Illinois’ third drive, Harnish completed passes of 20 and 39 yards, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run by Jasmin Hopkins to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:59 left in the first quarter.

Then, came the dramatic onside attempt.

Northern Illinois kicker Matthew Sims popped the ball high into the air. After the ball bounced off the first Wisconsin player who had a chance to catch it, the Badgers’ Bradie Ewing ran under it. But when he touched it, Northern Illinois’ Courtney Stephen collided with him, and the ball flew loose again.

With the ball soaring in the air, Northern Illinois’ Dominique Ware was the next to reach for it. As he was about to pull it down, teammate Stephen O’Neal knocked into him. Ware tried to hold onto it as he fell, but it wasn’t to be. Wisconsin’s Jacob Pedersen finally wrestled it away from Ware and gained the possession.

With that, the ball, the momentum and eventually the game were Wisconsin’s. The Badgers scored three plays later, and Northern Illinois never challenged them again.

The Huskies were left playing the “what if” game afterward.

“Had we gotten that surprise onside and marched down the field to get them tired and scored, then it’s a different ballgame,” Doeren said. “That was the game plan. Obviously, it backfired. They got a short field and took advantage.”

Three games into his coaching career, Doeren finds his Huskies at 1-2. It wasn’t where they hoped to be, but they also understood it was a distinct possibility with playing Kansas on the road and then highly-ranked Wisconsin.

What Doeren and his players immediately took to heart after Saturday’s loss was that the Huskies were in this same predicament last season and recovered. They began last season with a loss to Iowa State, a win over South Dakota and a loss to Illinois. At 1-2, Northern Illinois responded with nine consecutive wins.

Doeren wasn’t around last season, but he’s read up on his Northern Illinois history.

“We’re 1-2,” Doeren said. “We were 1-2 here last year and went on a run. That’s what we’re going to talk about when we get home. We got a nine-game schedule left. Every goal on our board is still there.”

If history is to repeat itself, Harnish believes the Huskies’ leaders have to be accountable.

“We got a lot of seniors on the team,” Harnish said. “We have a lot of leadership, guys with experience. We’re going to bounce back. We’re going to put this one out of our memory, and we’re going into Cal Poly [next week] like we’re going into a fresh season.

“We have to be great leaders this week and bounce back from adversity. We always talk about doing it the hard way. This is a great week for us to step up and show what we’re made of.”

Wisconsin to see familiar face Saturday

September, 15, 2011
A potential reunion with the Wisconsin Badgers crossed Dave Doeren's mind even before he became Northern Illinois' coach.

As he mulled NIU's offer in December, Doeren, then the Badgers' defensive coordinator, called his boss and friend, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Peter G. Aiken/US PRESSWIRENorthern Illinois coach Dave Doeren will play his former team as the Huskies take on the Badgers.
"Bret and I were talking about whether I should or shouldn't take it, the pros and cons, this and that," Doeren recalled. "And I started laughing. I said, 'One of the deals is I've got to play two schools where I've worked, Kansas and Wisconsin. That sucks.' That's the negative to it when you look at being friends."

Bielema knew it would "put an interesting spin on everything."

"I still called the AD, did everything I could to help him get that job," he said. "It was something Dave had earned."

The positives of the NIU job won out, and Doeren accepted. After facing Kansas last week, he'll lead his Huskies team against Bielema and the seventh-ranked Badgers on Saturday afternoon at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Doeren's familiarity with Wisconsin's players and coaches could help Northern Illinois as it prepares for the game. Then again, the Badgers aren't known for tricky schemes. They do what they've always done, and they do it well.

"They're playing so well right now, I don't know if being there [previously] really helps," Doeren said. "They're a really talented football team. Obviously, I have some insight into their players, so that does help, but schematically, whether you were there or not, when you play Wisconsin, you're going to know what they're going to be in.

"You've just got to be able to stop it, and they take pride in that."

While Doeren saw Wisconsin's offense every day in practice the past few years, he's not as familiar with the man calling signals for the Badgers. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who transferred from NC State this summer, has been brilliant in his first two games for Wisconsin, ranking second nationally in passer rating (237.6) and completing 27 of 34 attempts (79.4 percent).

Doeren says Wilson is "like having Tolzien who can run," referring to former Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, who completed 72.9 percent of his passes in 2010 but wasn't known for his foot speed.

"You've got that extremely confident, intelligent leader that knows how to manage the game," Doeren said, "but now when things break down, he can run for touchdowns. ... The athletic dimension he brings when things break down is something they haven't had since Tyler Donovan."

Wisconsin's ground game remains its M.O., and Northern Illinois' young defense ranks near the bottom of the FBS against the run, allowing 556 rush yards and six touchdowns in its first two games against Army and Kansas. If the Huskies can't stop Wisconsin's run attack Saturday, they'll have "no chance," Doeren said.

What gives NIU hope is an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Chandler Harnish. The Huskies have scored 91 points in their first two games and Harnish ranks among the top 10 nationally in both passer rating (197.96) and total offense (339.5 ypg).

Although Wisconsin comes off of a shutout against Oregon State, it lost starting cornerback Devin Smith to a season-ending foot injury. The Badgers lack depth at corner and could be vulnerable against the pass.

"Our skill is very good, our quarterback is playing well, tailbacks are all running hard when they're in there and we have a veteran O-line," Doeren said. "To me, that is where we match up well."

Doeren recruited Badgers defenders like safety Aaron Henry and linebacker Kevin Claxton. He considers Bielema and co-defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge among his best friends.

"It's part of the deal," Doeren said. "You're going to run into guys that you're friends with and coach against them. You recruit against your friends all the time.

"It's not the most fun thing to do, but it's something you do quite a bit."

New NIU coach to sing stretch at Wrigley

April, 26, 2011
Northern Illinois football coach Dave Doeren will sing the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

Illinois coach Ron Zook and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald have had numerous cracks at the seventh-inning stretch in recent years, but this will be the first time for Doeren, who was hired in December.

“I said you’ve got to be kidding me,” Doeren said in a statement. “I can sing a little bit, but I wouldn’t say I’m a singer by any means. I’m good enough to get by, I’ve been known to break out a Johnny Cash tune every now and then, but I don’t have a singing background, and I can’t say I’ve really sung in public before. I do know the song -- I am an American.

“It’s a great tradition. I remember when Harry Caray used to do it, so I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Sleep can wait for NIU coach Doeren

January, 26, 2011
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.”

Doeren paid his dues before landing NIU job

December, 13, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. -- Dave Doeren had put in the time as an assistant coach. He had coached at the smallest of schools like Montana, and at the biggest of universities like USC and Wisconsin.
[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
David Stluka/Getty ImagesDave Doeren will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl before assuming NIU duties full time.

He had experienced the struggles of coaching. He'll never forget the months of worrying if he had enough money to pay the rent.

But he also experienced what success was like when his hard work paid off. As Wisconsin's defensive coordinator for the past five years, the Badgers have been among the best defenses in the nation.

Doeren also had been through the interview ringer. He had put his resume on athletic directors' desks, sat through lengthy interviews and had his hopes of his first college head coaching job crushed with the word, "No." Recently, Indiana chose someone over him.

All of Doeren's highs, lows, sweat and tears through his 16 years of coaching had placed him in position to be named Northern Illinois' new coach on Monday, but before he could finally reach that dream, he had to endure one final obstacle -- a Wisconsin blizzard.

It took Doeren two hours in 50 mile-per-hour winds to shovel his car out of three feet of snow from his home's driveway Sunday before he and family could make the drive to DeKalb to sit through one final interview. Around midnight, Doeren was officially offered the job, and he accepted.

On Monday afternoon, following a much needed night of sleep, Doeren was announced as the Huskies' new head football coach before a crowd of media members, fans and administrators at the NIU Convocation Center.

"My wife and I were talking about [the journey to get this job] as I was trying to clear the driveway the other day," Doeren said. "‘Would you think that I would have to do this?' You think you're going down to try to get a head coaching job, and ... It was a crazy day yesterday.

"Each one of the schools I've met with were unique from each other. Timing and fit, and this was the right one. ... As a guy who started out coaching high school football, to go back to being a [general assistant] two different times, struggled to pay the rent, having to get supported through the family, my wife supported me as a coach for many of years, it's been a long road to get where I was at Wisconsin. And now to have an opportunity like this to be at NIU is very rewarding."

Northern Illinois didn't waste any time finding its new coach. As soon as Jerry Kill left the program to become Minnesota's coach on Dec. 5, athletic director Jeff Compher immediately began searching for the Huskies' next coach.

Doeren was on Compher's radar quickly.

"First of all, I think the fact he's relatively close, he understands the Midwest," Compher said. "He's a great recruiter and has been. He's had recruiting coordinator positions at several schools. He takes a passion for that.

"The fact Wisconsin is a great program, he understands what it takes to win at the highest level, and I think we need that. He wants to be here. You couple that with his own competitiveness, and the fact he's a very smart and intelligent man, I think that will translate well for us as well."

Doeren will remain coaching Wisconsin's defense until after the Badgers play TCU in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. During that time, he also plans on beginning his Northern Illinois' duties, which include contacting recruits.

Northern Illinois interim head coach Tom Matukewicz will continue to lead the Huskies against Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl on Saturday.

Coincidentally, Northern Illinois will meet Wisconsin next season at Soldier Field in Chicago.

"Dave was one of my first hires at Wisconsin, and he has been one of the major reasons we have had success," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "He has given us five great years of service and has represented Wisconsin football very well in our community and across the country. It was only a matter of time before Dave became a head coach, and I wish him all the best in every game next year, but one."

Doeren met with Northern Illinois' current players on Monday morning.

"He told us he's a guy who has built his programs, he's worked his way up, and he's a guy who's a hard worker and he wants a physical team," Northern Illinois junior tight end Jason Schepler said. "And that's what this team is. Everyone here is hard workers, so I think it's a good fit for him.

"It's been difficult because everyone was real uncertain [about the coaching situation.] But now that we have some certainty, I think everyone can concentrate, and it'll be easy to focus on what we need to. We can use this game as a springboard to show the new coaches what we can do."

Doeren described Northern Illinois' future playing style as being physical. He expected it to resemble some of what Wisconsin does, but also thought it would reflect on the team's personnel and the assistant coaches he would be hiring in the coming weeks.

"I think that's who I am," Doeren said. "I believe in not beating yourself and playing smart and playing physical. I think that's what makes teams tough to play. Finesse is not something that wins championship. It maybe scores points, but it doesn't win championships."

Doeren, who is 39, joined the Badgers in 2006 and spent two seasons as their co-defensive coordinator along with current Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz before taking over the position solely in 2008. He is also Wisconsin's linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.

The Badgers ranked 22nd in total defense, 30th in rushing defense, 26th in passing defense and 29th in scoring defense under Doeren this season. Wisconsin was fifth in the country in rushing defense last season and was second in the scoring defense in 2006.

Before Wisconsin, Doeren was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Kansas from 2002-2005 and was promoted to be the team's defensive coordinator in 2005. He also was an assistant coach at Montana for two seasons, at Drake for three seasons and a graduate assistant at USC for two years.



Thursday, 10/16
Saturday, 10/18