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I'm Just Saying with NIU football coach Rod Carey

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner –
Northern Illinois football coach Rod Carey during practice Wednesday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.
(Erik Anderson for Shaw Media)
Northern Illinois football coach Rod Carey speaks to his players after the spring game Saturday outside of the Yordon Center at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

Rod Carey made his head coaching debut in Northern Illinois’ Orange Bowl appearance in January. Now he’s settled into getting the Huskies prepared for the next step. Carey, who is also relatively new to Twitter (@niucoachcarey), will take center stage at Wrigley Field when he throws out the ceremonial first pitch and sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch of Wednesday’s Cubs-Rangers game.

There’s no manual for being a head coach, so thinking it’s not what I expected wouldn’t be the right answer. Surprised by it? No, because everyone’s always telling you there’s no preparing to be a head coach. I think it’s been good, exhilarating and tiring all at the same time. You just have to get up and make sure you’re doing your job the same time every day, and that’s probably a good thing. So it’s pretty great.

This place has won for a long time before last year and so to go ahead and say, ‘Oh yeah, now the expectations are this’ [after the BCS bowl berth], that would kind of be devaluing everybody that has been here before and all the great teams they’ve had here. There have been a lot of great football teams here and this place has been winning at a high rate for a long time. So no one has bigger expectations for us than us, and that’s how we approach it, and that’s how we’ve been approaching it for a long time.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m an expert at [Twitter] by any stretch of the imagination. I think anything that comes to reach a big crowd is great. It used to be, ‘Get a website,’ and no one does that anymore. Now you’re on social media and that reaches more people quicker. I think it’s important. Do I like every aspect of it? By no means. But I think that’s how the world is communicating right now. [But] no one cares about what I’m thinking every day. [My Twitter feed] is about what’s going on here.

I’ve never been to Wrigley before, and so I’m really looking forward to it. A couple friends said, ‘Just don’t make SportsCenter’s Not Top 10.’ I don’t know if that’s advice or if that’s a warning – one of the two. I don’t think I’ve thrown off a mound since I was in high school, so we’re going to find out. When you grow up in the age of SportsCenter, I’ve heard some people sing [at Wrigley] before and I know I won’t be the worst. But you’ve got to be prepared so you’ve got to know the words [to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”] because there have been some guys who have gotten up there who didn’t know the words and that’s an issue. I can eliminate that issue, but the rest of it, I have to take full ownership of – it’s completely mine. But for the quality of it, that’s everyone else. They asked me to do this. I didn’t beg for it.

Being a baseball fan in general, you’re naturally a Cubs fan. I’ve never been there and it’s one of those bucket list things just to go watch a game. So the fact I get to do this too is awesome. It’s like the bucket list-plus and you get to scratch it off. But there’s been a relationship that’s been built between the Cubs and NIU, and I really look at this as a continuation of that relationship. I mean, how can you not like being affiliated with the Cubs – everybody knows who the Cubs are.

I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If you’d like to see someone featured here, email me at or send me a message on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.

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