The Search Begins for Northern Illinois

The Northern Illinois football coaching search is underway. NIU Athletic Director Jeff Compher is doing his homework and studying candidates to replace Jerry Kill. In this report we look at where the Huskies might turn for a new leader…

Northern Illinois announced last night that Tom Matukewicz has been named the Huskies interim football coach for the remainder of this season. Matukewicz was serving as NIU's linebackers coach. "Coach Tuke" served for 11 years under Kill and would be able to provide continuity for NIU. In essence, Matukewicz has an opportunity to audition for the permanent job over the next two weeks as he prepares the Huskies for their Humanitarian Bowl matchup with Fresno State.

Should Compher decide to go out of house for his next coach, you could see NIU revisit candidates who were in the mix in 2007 when Jerry Kill was hired.

Chuck Martin is the current defensive backs coach / recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame. He led Grand Valley State to two Division II championships and is a protege of Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. The Lakers went 74-7 on his watch. He is a native of Park Forest, Illinois and knows how to recruit the Chicago area.

Dan McCarney was in the mix the last time around and would make a great candidate. Unfortunately he recently signed on as the new head coach at North Texas.

Craig Bohl is the head coach at North Dakota State where he has accumulated a 59-28 record. Bohl led the Bison to a 7-3 record this season that included a 6-3 upset of the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. If you want a proven head coach at the FCS level, then Bohl is your guy.

Another candidate from a FCS program is Southeast Missouri coach Tony Samuel. Samuel has led a remarkable turnaround at Southeast Missouri where they finished 2-7 and last place in the Ohio Valley conference last year, to a 9-3 record and a first place finish in the OVC this year. Samuel served as an assistant under Tom Osborne at Nebraska.

Bud Foster, Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator and Inside Linebackers coach, has a reputation as being one of the top defensive coaches in the game. He is originally from Nokomis, Illinois. However, Foster is rumored to be interviewing for the open spot at Vanderbilt. His name has also surfaced with the Pitt job that opened up yesterday with the resignation of Dave Wannstedt.

If Compher is looking for someone with NIU ties, then he could look to former NIU assistant and current Rutgers wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck. A 2004 NIU graduate, Fleck is a Huskie to the core and would bring a lot of energy to the job, but it could be premature in his career for a move to a head coaching position.

Thomas Hammock is a more experienced Huskie who served as the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Minnesota. He was running backs coach at NIU under retired coach Joe Novak and is likely to get Novak's endorsement for the job.

If Compher wants to think out of the box, then he could make a run at Wannstedt who had a 42-31 record at Pitt and led the Panthers to two bowl games. Wanny would bring instant name recognition from his days as head coach of the Chicago Bears.

Stay tuned to as we follow the NIU coaching search.

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