DeKALB – If Dave Doeren enjoys even a modicum of success as Northern Illinois’ latest head football coach the story from his introductory news conference undoubtedly will, well, snowball.
Doeren, the 39-year-old Wisconsin defensive coordinator who was introduced as the 21st head football coach in Northern Illinois school history Monday, had a scheduled meeting with NIU President Dr. John Peters and wanted to come see DeKalb and visit the campus and community just before agreeing to accept the job.
Unfortunately, what stood between his family’s house in Wisconsin and NIU’s campus was a severe winter storm that covered the Madison, Wis., area with 10 inches of snow and featured up to 46 mph wind gusts in DeKalb.
It took two hours for Doeren to dig out what he said was three feet of snow in his driveway. He enlisted the help of some friends who had to tie a chain to Doeren’s vehicle to finally drag it out.
“[Sunday] was an emotional day. I’ve been through a lot to get to this place,” Doeren said. “I had to dig the car out of the driveway. It was crazy to get here yesterday, but the kids hung in there and I’m very, very proud to be standing here in front of this group. “
It’s safe to say Doeren wanted the job. He agreed to a five-year deal with a first-year base salary of $371,000 and said he would bring a physical brand of football to DeKalb.
“We truly put pride in taking our opponents down and getting them to the fourth quarter and watching them quit,” Doeren said. “That is what I want to do, and I believe that brand of football stands strong here and has been established. Regardless of the scheme, it’s a mentality that starts with me and every assistant coach that I bring here, and in the weight room, and every kid that I recruit.”
NIU athletic director Jeff Compher said Doeren was his top choice and will make for a great fit with the Huskies. The hire comes eight days after Jerry Kill left to take the head coaching position at Minnesota. Doeren was rumored to be in the running for several head coaching jobs, including the Vanderbilt and Indiana jobs.
“I think it verified that we had a hot commodity that was worth taking the step to be a head coach,” Compher said. “To me, it kind of verified again why he should be on our list, that other schools were looking at him, too.”
Doeren will remain with the Badgers through the Rose Bowl and will not be involved in NIU’s preparation for Saturday’s Humanitarian Bowl against Fresno State. Interim head coach Tom Matukewicz will coach the Huskies for the bowl game.
Meanwhile, Doeren will start to put together a staff and do what he can in recruiting before the NCAA-mandated dead period begins Dec. 20 and runs through Jan. 3.
“The one thing that is helping me is that this team is leaving to go play in a game,” Doeren said. “They’re done with school. They’re traveling. There’s not a whole lot here I can do right now, and most of the administration is going along. The window actually works out pretty good. Cell phones make everyone pretty mobile. I’m going to be able to recruit from wherever I am.”
Doeren said he had a good number of guys in mind potentially for his coaching staff and that he had a few offers out, but would not go into further detail.
“I’ve got a depth chart,” he said of his possible staff.
Doeren also met with NIU players at Monday’s practice at the indoor practice facility in Lake Barrington, where several Huskies came away with good early impressions of the coach.
“He’s a good dude,” safety Tommy Davis said. “He came right in, and he’s confident. He’s ready to go.”