FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Dave Doeren accomplished a ton in his short, two-year stint at Northern Illinois.
A 23-4 record. Two Mid-American Conference titles. A bowl win last season and a berth in a BCS bowl game this year.
In steps Rod Carey, a coach who was the offensive line coach/run game coordinator at the start of the year. With how far the Huskies program has come under Joe Novak, Jerry Kill and then Doeren, Carey has a lot to step into.
Tuesday, when No. 16 NIU takes on No. 13 Florida State at 7:30 p.m. CST in the Orange Bowl, he'll be a head coach for the first time, in possibly the biggest game in school history.
For Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, he's coaching the school's first BCS bowl game since January of 2006, when Florida State lost to Penn State at the Orange Bowl.
In 2010, Fisher had the opportunity to step in for Bobby Bowden, owner of an NCAA-record 377 wins. He's leading his program into an Orange Bowl, and Florida State looks like it's headed back to prominence.
Coaches in situations similar to Fisher's, and to a lesser extent Carey's, are going to face a certain amount of pressure. Huskie fans might not expect another BCS berth next season, but a third straight Mid-American Conference title will certainly be on their list.
Carey understands the whole deal. At Monday's Orange Bowl press conference, Carey also talked about how good of a situation he's in. He's got the premier job in the MAC, a talented group coming back in 2013 and a possible Heisman candidate in quarterback Jordan Lynch.
He's also gotten plenty of advice from Doeren on making this leap in such a short time.
"Well, what it's like is that if we didn't go 23-4, I don't get this job. I can tell you that. So it means the program is in good shape," Carey said. "We're obviously headed in more than just the right direction. We're going down a path that we want to be, what we've worked for.
"And how much has Dave helped me? A lot. You know, I've learned a ton from him. He's a good man, he's a good football coach, and we have a good relationship that will change now, and it already has since we're both head coaches at different universities, but excited about that change and what that will bring to our relationship, too."
Bowden has two pages dedicated to his accomplishments in Florida State's media guide, and the accolades are endless. There is of course the victory total, but also the national titles in 1993 and 1999, and the 28 consecutive bowl games from 1982-2009. There's also the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference titles and 14 straight top 5 Associated Press Poll finishes from 1987-2009.
Doeren certainly did a lot in his short career at NIU, winning more MAC titles in two years than what the Huskies had won in their history prior to 2011. But Bowden is a legend.
Fisher's career is off to a good start, and he said in this day and age, when you're at a high-profile program, there's always going to be pressure.
"Our world today is what have you done for me lately, and that's just the nature of the beast. You're a high-profile, that goes with the territory and you want to win them all, but Coach Bowden was a legend. Coach Bowden is a one-of-a-kind guy," Fisher said. "You don't replace Coach Bowden. I have to be Jimbo Fisher and move on and do the things we do, and we've done some great things, and some people like it. And we do them a little different."
Fisher and Carey have gotten to meet each other down in south Florida leading up to the Orange Bowl. Monday, Fisher was asked about Carey's meteoric rise up the coaching ranks. He said there will be more to deal with next season. NIU had already developed a certain routine under Doeren, and Fisher said the challenge for Carey will be developing his own set routine in 2013.
"I think next year from a head coaching plan, I think from an organizational standpoint it'll be, not harder, but there's a lot more work to do because now you put your stamp on the program," Fisher said. "This one here, they'll kind of run status quo and do the things that they do and everyone knows what the roles are, everyone knows everything.
"Next year I think will be even more of a transition because they have to reinvent those roles and tell everybody what they're doing, and it's a different group."
Tuesday, Carey will call the plays from the sideline and make the decisions as the school's head coach. Should the Huskies pull off the upset, it could be considered the biggest win in school history.
Carey and Fisher have had the chance to get together this week, and posed for pictures at Monday's news conference. The two will meet for a final time during the postgame handshake at Sun Life Stadium.
"I think [Carey]'s done a great job. In meeting him the few times I have, I've been very impressed," Fisher said. "I think he's a great guy, and developing a good friendship. I really enjoy being around him."