DEKALB, Ill. -- Northern Illinois football coach Joe Novak retired Monday, two days after his team finished a 2-10 season.
The 62-year-old Novak spent 16 years at NIU, including the past 12 as head coach. He turned the Huskies into winners after losing 23 consecutive games early in his tenure.
Novak compiled a 63-75 record while guiding Northern Illinois to unprecedented success, including two bowl games and seven straight winning seasons from 2000-06.
"People have always said you'll know when it's time and I promise you, I know it's time," Novak said at a news conference. "Selfishly, it's time for my wife and I. It's been a great, great ride but it's time."
Novak coached NIU to three wins over Top 25 teams. In 2003, the Huskies beat No. 15 Maryland and No. 21 Alabama and were ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation. They set a school record with 10 wins.
In 2004, Novak led NIU to its first bowl game in 21 years, a 34-21 victory over Troy in the Silicon Valley Classic. Last season, TCU beat Northern Illinois 37-7 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Novak also was the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2002.
"Despite this season and how it went, the guy has accomplished tremendous things at this program," junior wide receiver Britt Davis said. "He took it from nothing and made it into something. That shows the years of hard work and dedication that he has put into this program."
Novak said he would miss being around his players and coaches, but insisted he was ready to move on.
"I love coaching," he said. "It's what I always wanted to do. But it's so consuming. I've got plenty to do and I'm looking forward to it."
Novak will continue to direct the football program during offseason workouts until a new coach is hired. He will help NIU in its search, although he won't be involved in recruiting.
Novak will remain at NIU until his contract expires on June 30, 2008, as a special assistant to athletic director Jim Phillips.