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Matukewicz named NIU interim coach

Those that have watched even a single Northern Illinois practice over the past three seasons know that linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz has enough energy for multiple assistant coaches.

He'll need all of it for the next two weeks.

Matukewicz was named the interim coach of the Huskies on Tuesday and will coach NIU (10-3) in the Humanitarian Bowl against Fresno St. (8-4) at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 in Boise, Idaho.

He'll lead a staff of at least 10 assistant coaches, including graduate assistants. Matukewicz said defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will "probably not coach in the bowl game" and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover's status for the bowl was undecided as of Tuesday night. Claeys and Limegrover are the only question marks for the game from the coaching staff. Matukewicz said that everyone that has coached a position this season will coach in the bowl game.

Matukewicz said he was excited for the chance to lead the Huskies.

"For whatever reason, I feel like I was created to do this," Matukewicz said Tuesday night. "Because I feel like I have more energy after I've done it. You'd think I'd be tired."

Matukewicz hopes the interim tag will be removed, whether it's at NIU or if he gets a shot at another school.

"My goal in football is to be a head football coach and this is a great opportunity for me to try and lead a difficult situation," he said. "At the end of the day, this work will, I'm basing it off a 12-day interview. Whether it's here or anywhere else, I'm hoping that that work will pay off and some AD will want to talk to me about leading their program.

Asked if he hopes that athletic director is NIU AD Jeff Compher, Matukewicz said, "Absolutely. We talked, but it's one of those deals where I can't create a university and name myself head football coach. The only thing I can control is how prepared our staff and players are."

Matukewicz, who will continue to coach the NIU linebackers while serving as the head coach, was the Football Championship Subdivision Assistant Coach of the Year in 2007 and has been responsible for coordinating NIU's run defense.

“I have complete confidence in Tom Matukewicz and what he is going to bring to our team beginning today and continuing through the bowl game in Boise,” Compher said in a news release. “He’s a coach who brings tremendous enthusiasm every day. The team knows and likes him, and he’ll be a great leader for our team during this time.”

NIU is scheduled to hold its first pre-bowl practice Thursday and the Huskies will depart for Boise on Dec. 14. Matukewicz said he met with the team on Tuesday with a message of continuity. Motivation won't be difficult to find for the coach or the players, either.

"You kind of get to right the wrong from Friday (a 26-21 loss to Miami in the MAC title game)," Matukewicz said. "That's not who we were last Friday, and we're going to show you."

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