Tag:Northern Illinois
Posted on: January 19, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Headset Reset: Five new faces in the MAC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

"Headset Reset " is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the five new head coaches in the MAC.

DON TREADWELL, Miami (Ohio) (pictured)

Why him? Because few assistant coaches in the country had a better 2010 than Treadwell, who turned a collection of average-looking talent into one of the Big Ten's most effective offenses at Michigan State and added a couple of victories as the Spartans' interim head coach to boot. For 2011, Treadwell needs to: capitalize on the momentum built by Mike Haywood's amazing 9-win turnaround in Oxford. A second straight MAC title isn't a necessity, but the pieces are in place for the kind of solid, winning season that would stamp the RedHawks as a contender for years to come. By 2014, Treadwell needs to have: won the MAC. With so much coaching turnover, there's a power vaccum at the top of the conference, and no reason Miami can't fill it. Chances Treadwell gets what he needs? Good-to-very good. Haywood left behind an excellent foundation and Treadwell's work in East Lansing suggests he's just the man to build upon it.

PETE LEMBO, Ball State

Why him? At just 40 years of age, Lembo already has 10 years of head coaching experience (all at the FCS level, no less) and just finished resuscitating a truly rotten Elon program. For 2011, Lembo needs to: just move the Cardinals in the right direction. Stan Parrish's dreadful two-season reign-of-error means Lembo has to get the program walking towards, say, not losing to Eastern Michigan before it runs towards bowls and league titles. By 2014, Lembo needs to have: put the Cardinals in position for a postseason berth; the Brady Hoke era showed it's far from impossible for the right coach. Chances Lembo gets what he needs? Not bad. BSU's not an easy gig, but Lembo's energy and FCS success mean he could be a sneakily good hire.

STEVE ADDAZIO, Temple

Why him? Not his efforts running the Florida offense, that's for sure, but his top-notch recruiting expertise, Northeast ties, and Urban Meyer -trained CEO skills won him the job all the same. For 2011, Addazio needs to: put together a coaching staff -- particularly at the coordinator positions -- that can take advantage of Addazio's good work on the recruiting trails. Maintaining Temple's perch near the top of the MAC East would be a nice signal that Al Golden's tenure wasn't a fluke, too. By 2014, Addazio needs to have: gotten the Owls back to a couple of bowl games; anything else would be a terrible waste of Golden's remarkable work. Chances Addazio gets what he needs? Better than you'd think. There's a reason Meyer tabbed Addazio as his replacement during his sabbatical; he's got the leadership skills necessary to head up a successful program ... if he can just find someone to call his plays for him.

DAVE DOEREN, Northern Illinois

Why him? NIU can't ask for a whole lot more than a long-time successful Big Ten defensive coordinator fresh off a visit to the Rose Bowl. For 2011, Doeren needs to: win the MAC? Those are high expectations for a first-time head coach, but the Huskies were the league's best team in 2010 and their offense returns almost entirely intact. By 2014, Doeren needs to have: won the MAC, no question mark. With the offensive talent left behind by Jerry Kill and Doeren's defensive acumen, the Huskies should find a way to finish what they started in 2010. Chances Doeren gets what he needs? Solid; none of the other new MAC coaches steps into a situation quite this friendly, and Doeren's defensive pedigree is promising.

DARRELL HAZELL, Kent State

Why him? No one the Golden Flashes could have hired knows the Ohio recruiting scene better than the longtime Buckeye receivers coach and recruiting ace. For 2011, Hazell needs to: find a difference-maker or two. KSU's been close to getting over the bowl hump, going 5-7 each of the past two seasons; if Hazell can recruit just a handful of actual play-makers, he could get them there in short order. By 2014, Hazell needs to have: reached the postseason. It would be a huge milestone for woebegone program that's had just two winning seasons since 1977, and has never played in a bowl as an FBS program. Chances Hazell gets what he needs? Like Addazio, it'll depend on who Hazell can hire for his staff, since he has no coordinating experience. But the talent level in Kent should definitely rise on his watch.

Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:12 am
 

Ricky Dobbs wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is a bit different from the rest of the honors on the college football postseason, as it specifically takes into account an athlete's off-field activities as well -- to quote the release announcing this year's winner, "a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition."

So it makes sense that this year's award went to Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs. Dobbs is arguably the greatest option quarterback of the past decade or so, an honorable mention All-American who totaled more than 2,000 yards of offense this season and set a single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback as a junior with 27.

But Dobbs is also due to graduate this sping with a degree in general science from one of the FBS's most challenging academic programs, and still finds the time to be involved with various community activities (including helping at multiple football camps in the Annapolis area). After graduation, he'll be serving (naturally) in the U.S. Navy. Tonight's the final game of his career as he takes on San Diego State in the waterlogged Poinsettia Bowl; it's your final chance to watch one of college football's best players in action, and we strongly suggest you take advantage of the opportunity. (Need a preview? The blog's got you covered .)

Also making the Lowe's Senior Class Award All-America first team: Northern Illinois defensive end Jake Coffman, Auburn center Ryan Pugh, Penn State guard Stefan Wisnewski, and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. Congratulatiosn are in order for all.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:11 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 11:18 am
 

NIU's Matukewicz needs a permanent mic

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Thanks to the lopsided nature of the three games, there weren't too many instant stars born on the first Saturday of bowl competition: BYU quarterback-of-the-future Jake Heaps, maybe, future NFL receiver Jerrel Jernigan of Troy, the Trojans' bearded punter-slash-internet sensation Will Goggans. And from the coaching ranks, there was Northern Illinois interim head coach Tom Matukewicz, A.K.A. "Coach Tuke," who led the Huskies to a dominating victory over Fresno State in the absence of Jerry Kill, off to take over at Minnesota.

But what Humanitarian Bowl viewers are most likely to remember about Matukewicz isn't the win so much as his bold-yet-witty sideline interviews, delivered directly into the camera for maximum impact. When asked about his (successful) decision to ice Fresno kicker Kevin Goessling just before halftime, "Coach Tuke" responded that he just wanted the game to last a little bit longer.

His postgame interviews showed his one day as college football's leading quote machine wasn't done there, though. A sampling :

"He meant everything to us," quarterback Chandler Harnish said. "I loved how the team came together, how he rallied the troops."

Matukewicz's reply: "Just for that, you're getting double Chick-fil-A tonight."
When he walked into the postgame news conference, he told the media, "You all need to get comfortable, because when I get back to DeKalb, I'm no longer the head coach. So I'm going to milk this thing out."
On celebrating the bowl win: "I'm going to find out how much gas is in that jet because I'm not going to land it. We're just going to circle around and celebrate."
"You know what I said at halftime to the guys?" Matukewicz said. "I said, 'If you haven't had fun, that's your fault. You can't slap the smile off me.' "
As he himself pointed out, Matukewicz won't be delivering his zingers on a full-time basis just yet; he's staying in DeKalb for the time being as part of new Huskie head man Dave Doeren's staff. But if the comfort he showed in the head position this weekend -- both coaching his football team and in front of the press --is any indication, it won't be too long until we see him in charge of his own program somewhere.

And if there's got any more quotes where Saturday's came from, we'll all be better for it once he is.



Posted on: December 18, 2010 9:09 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Humanitarian Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Final Score: Northern Illinois 40  Fresno State 17

Northern Illinois


Offense - The Huskies set the tone on offense early, as they weren't in Boise just to have a good time, but win a football game.  The Huskies drove into Fresno territory on their first drive, and went for it on fourth down.  They didn't convert, but the message was sent.  After that failure, just about everything clicked.  I thought NIU would attack Fresno on the ground more, but Chandler Harnish had a nice day through the air as well.  Harnish finished the day with 378 total yards, 301 of which came through the air, and had 3 total touchdowns.  Chad Spann rushed for 91 yards and two scores to add to his school record of 22 rushing touchdowns this season.  All in all, Northern finished with 40 points and 505 yards.  Grade: A

Defense - While the offense provided more than enough points, the defense didn't let up much either.  The Huskies held Fresno State to 350 total yards and picked up six sacks.  The Huskies gave up a touchdown on Fresno's first drive of the game, and another late in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand.  Grade: A

Coaching - Tom Matucewicz was filling in for Jerry Kill in this game, and it was the first time he served as a head coach on any level.  He did an excellent job.  Not only was his team prepared for this game, but they had a solid game plan and executed it. On offense they attacked Fresno's weaknesses and even went after the Bulldogs strengths succesfully.  Grade: A

Fresno State


Offense - Maybe it's the blue turf, but Fresno State's offense just doesn't seem to show up inside the city limits of Boise, Idaho.  After being shutout by Boise State earlier this season, the Bulldogs only mustered 17 points against NIU.  Ryan Colburn had a decent game, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns, but a lot of those yards came when the game was out of hand.  Not having Robbie Rouse at 100 percent -- Rouse played the game with his left hand in a cast -- definitely played a role in the struggles.  Grade: C-

Defense - You know who else didn't show up?  The Fresno defense.  The Bulldogs didn't look interested in trying to stop anybody from the get go, and because of that, they didn't.  NIU averaged 9.0 yards per play on Saturday night.  That's nearly a first down on every snap.  Grade: F

Coaching - It was obvious to anybody paying attention that Fresno State didn't want to be in this game.  For the third straight year Pat Hill's team laid an egg in a bowl game.  There's a reason Hill is now 0-6 against non-AQ teams in bowl games and 4-1 against BCS teams: unless Fresno State is playing a "big time" team, Hill and his boys just don't care. It's a shame.  Grade: F

Final Grade


Five of the last six years the Humanitarian Bowl game down to the closing minutes.  That simply just wasn't the case this season, as Northern Illinois showed up looking to win, and Fresno State looked like it wanted to be anywhere but Boise.  It's because of this that this game wasn't incredibly enjoyable to watch, and will likely be forgotten about in the coming weeks.  Still, NIU's performance and attitude keeps the game from getting a terrible grade.  Grade: C+
Posted on: December 15, 2010 3:01 pm
 

Fresno State suspends 3 players for bowl game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It looks like Fresno State will be short three players this weekend when it heads to Boise to take on Northern Illinois in the Humanitarian Bowl this Saturday.  The school announced on Wednesday that it had suspended three players, being kind enough to wait until after I'd written and published my Humanitarian Bowl preview.

Of the three suspensions, only linebacker Kyle Knox is a starter for the Bulldogs. The other two players are wide receiver Matt Lindsey and backup linebacker Daniel Salinas.

"Our student-athletes know and understand our rules and regulations," said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said in a news release. "And those who don't abide by the rules will not be permitted to participate."

What those rules were, as is usually the case, were not released by the school.  

As for how these suspensions will impact Fresno, Knox's loss will likely be felt.  The junior has started all three seasons he's been at the school, and was second on the team in tackles this season with 74.  Considering that the Bulldogs have already been pretty soft against the run this season, not having Knox around against a read option team like Northern Illinois could cause even more problems.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:13 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 12:03 pm
 

Bowl Bonanza: Humanitarian Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Why You Should Watch: Honestly, unless you're a fan of either Northern Illinois or Fresno State, you probably don't think there is a reason to watch this game. It's understandable, but believe us when we tell you there are a few reasons to watch.  First of all, it's been a few weeks since you've had any college football to watch, so it's time to take care of your fix.  Second, while these two teams may not be headliners, the matchup promises to be interesting.

Keys to Victory for Northern Illinois: Obviously things will be a bit different for Northern Illinois during the bowl game.  The Huskies are coming off of a loss to Miami (OH) in the MAC Championship game, and they've also lost their head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota since then.  Still, with or without their head coach, what Northern Illinois needs to do to win this game is obvious.

Northern has the 7th ranked rushing offense in the country this season behind running back Chad Spann and quarterback Chandler Harnish.  Fresno State hasn't been very stellar against the run defense this season, particularly against spread option attacks like the one that Northern Illinois runs.  So for the Huskies to pick up the 11th win of the season -- which would be a school record -- they're going to need to keep the ball on the ground, and when the moment presents itself, attack the Fresno secondary deep.  Harnish has always been more of a runner, but his passing has improved quite a bit this season, so the Huskies should take advantage of it when they can.

Keys to Victory for Fresno State: The key for Fresno State in Boise will be the men in the trenches.  On defense, the line is going to have to remain disciplined, and maintain its assignments to stop the Huskies ground game.  It's easier said than done, as Fresno's front four has had problems doing this all season.  Still, while Northern can throw a bit, if you take away its run game and force it to throw more than it wants to, you can stop the Huskies offense.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line will have to protect QB Ryan Colburn.  Colburn has a good arm and is a solid quarterback, but he has a tendency to make bad decisions when he's being pressured in the pocket.  He tends to force passes when he feels pressure, and against an opportunistic Huskies secondary, this won't work well for the Bulldogs.

The good news for Fresno is that the last few weeks off have given RB Robbie Rouse time to heal from rib and hand injuries he suffered towards the end of the season.  What could help Colburn and the offensive line more than anything would be for the team's workhorse to carry the load once again on offense.

The Humanitarian Bowl Is Like: It's like that kid back in grade school that nobody seems to like.  He usually sits alone at lunch time, and the other kids think he's weird and nobody ever pays any attention to him.  Hell, they don't even make fun of him.  Then one day the kid shows up at your house because both your moms go to the same salon and set up some kind of play date, and after you spend they day hanging out with him you realize "Hey, this kid isn't so bad.  In fact, he's kind of cool."  Of course, you never tell anyone at school about this.  You do have a reputation to uphold.
Posted on: December 11, 2010 11:43 am
 

Brady Hoke would leave San Diego for Michigan

Posted by Tom Fornelli

San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke was mentioned quite a bit as a candidate for the Minnesota job before the school decided to hire Northern Illinois' Jerry Kill.  Hoke had interviewed with Minnesota AD Joel Maturi in San Diego at the job before deciding to stay in southern California and sign a two-year contract extension at the school.  Though just because Hoke signed an extension, that doesn't mean there isn't one job he would leave the school for this winter if it became available to him.

Even his school president knows that.  SDSU President Stephen Weber says that if the job at Michigan came open, he's almost certain that Hoke would leave his school for Ann Arbor if the job was offered to him.  And he's happy about it.

“If he were offered the opportunity, I have got to believe there is no way we can compete with that,” Weber told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “And I kind of like the fact we have a coach who (would be) in play for a place like the University of Michigan. C’mon, this is a good thing.”

Weber says he's known this since he hired Hoke.  He said during the interview he asked Hoke how he saw San Diego State fitting into his career arc, and Hoke told him that the arc ended at Michigan.

Of course, whether that Michigan job comes open or not, we don't know yet, as Michigan AD Dave Brandon has said he's going to wait until after the bowl game to make a decision on Rich Rodriguez.  Plus, there's the question of whether or not Jim Harbaugh would be interested in taking the job, because you have to think that he would be the school's first choice.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 7:40 pm
 

Minnesota AD offered head coach spot to Alvarez?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The St. Paul Pioneer Press published a back-and-forth between reporters Bob Sansevere ("BS") and Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi ("JM") today, regarding Minnesota's recent hire of Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill. To call it "unusual" might not do the exchange justice; it's probably requires reading in full. Here's just a snippet, revealing just a fraction of the candor Maturi displayed today:

BS: You're the one who said you'd try to get another Tubby.

JM: Yeah, I did. I offered it to Barry Alvarez, and he didn't take the job.

BS: I've heard you say that three times now. Did you truly say, "Barry, do you want to come here and coach the Gophers?"

JM: Yeah, I did.

BS: And his response?

JM: He said, "I like what I'm doing. And my days of coaching are done."

BS: So you were sincere when you asked?

JM: Well, I know Barry pretty well now.

BS: But it was a serious offer?

JM: Oh, yeah. Heck, yeah. I said, "If we could make this work."

Yes: Maturi asserts, repeatedly, that he would have given the Minnesota job to Alvarez, who is on the doorstep of 64, hasn't coached in five years, and has spent the last 20 years in the service of Minnesota's biggest and longest rival. Amazingly, that offer wasn't accepted.

One might notice that "Tubby" comment at the beginning of the excerpt above. That's a reference to Minnesota coach Tubby Smith , who was a high-profile coach from a high-profile school. Upon firing Tim Brewster earlier this year, Maturi had said that he would make another "Tubby Smith" hire. Regardless of the overall quality of the hire, which will become apparent over the next few years, Jerry Kill probably doesn't qualify under those guidelines. That, according to Maturi, is the fault of the guidelines, not the school:

BS: Do you feel the Tubby Smith comment was taken out of context?

JM: Well, I guess what I'm trying to tell you is, I knew we weren't going to get a BCS head coach. Now, I'd like to get a splash like that. Let's be honest about it. I'm not trying to downgrade Minnesota. The intention was to get somebody people can accept, people will feel good about, and hopefully will be successful and revered as much as Tubby Smith. It's words that I wish I would have taken back, quite frankly.

BS: The kind you'd like to shove back in your mouth?

JM: Yeah, I would. I'll be honest with you in regards to that. Again, I'm not trying to discredit us or whatever it is, but how many BCS head coaches would leave there to come here? If you could give me a couple, I'm willing to listen to you, especially successful ones.

In other words, Maturi is fully and freely admitting that he had no shot at bringing a big name to Minnesota, new stadium be damned.

Now, there's one crucial piece of background information that will help this all come into much sharper focus: Maturi's contract is up next year, and there's a strong sentiment in Minneapolis that Maturi won't be back. He'll be in his late 60s by the time his contract expires, his teams at Minnesota have struggled as of late, and he has little incentive to stay at the post. Most damningly, he has abandoned the typical non-committal press-speak, and that's a sure sign that his tenure's just about at an end, and that end is of his own volition.

 
 
 
 
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