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.”
Carey’s first two months on the job have kept his schedule packed.
Carey took over for Dave Doeren as Northern Illinois’ head coach in early December when Doeren left to lead North Carolina State’s program. Shortly after Doeren’s departure, Northern Illinois discovered it would be playing in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.
Aside from preparing for the Seminoles, Carey also had to balance recruiting and putting together a staff. Since the Orange Bowl, a 31-10 loss to Florida State, Carey has continued with those two efforts. He’ll announce his first recruiting class, which is expected to include 13 players, on Wednesday.
“It’s been pretty hectic,” Carey said. “I had to hire five new coaches and get the right fit for everybody. Recruiting was good. The Orange Bowl obviously, that’s going to help you and cause more interest from kids.”
Carey has found referencing the Orange Bowl does work well with recruits, but it’s also a bittersweet topic for himself.
“Two things,” Carey said. “One, you call a recruit and leave a message, they call back. Second, it’s the first point of conversation whenever you go into a recruit’s home or school. That’s good, but we didn’t win, and I have to relive that whenever it’s talked about.”
While Carey was able to keep a majority of Doeren’s recruits to stay committed to Northern Illinois, there were a couple who left for other schools. Most notably, dual-threat quarterback Mitch Kimble and wide receiver Corey Winfield committed to Syracuse recently.
Carey said he’s isn’t losing any sleep over those recruits.
“Yeah, we lost a couple,” Carey said. “What I say to that is in the end you want guys who want to be at NIU. They didn’t want to be at NIU. No matter how it went down, they didn’t want to be here. That’s the best for them, and that’s the best for us.”
Carey’s first recruiting class will be joining a veteran team looking to build off last year’s success. Although the Huskies were never expected by anyone to be in a BCS bowl last season, Carey believe his players will be driven again to surprise everyone next season.
“When we didn’t win the Orange Bowl, it left our team really hungry,” Carey said. “They have a real bad taste in their mouths losing. We were put in positions to win the game, and we didn’t make those plays. It left them pretty hungry.”