DeKALB – Northern Illinois defensive coordinator Kevin Kane has agreed to become Southern Methodist's defensive coordinator, multiple sources told the Daily Chronicle on Tuesday evening.
The news was first reported by FootballScoop on Tuesday. Multiple sources confirmed the story with the Daily Chronicle but spoke on the condition of anonymity.
NIU coach Rod Carey did not respond to interview requests.
Kane is the second member to leave Carey's staff this off-season. Former running backs coach Jordan Lynch left the Huskies to become head coach of Mount Carmel football last month.
"We lost two coaches the whole team really liked," a source said.
Kane, 34, a Kansas City native. joins the staff of new SMU coach Sonny Dykes. He leaves a stellar NIU defense that gave up 4.62 yards per play 338.5 yards per game in 2017, an improvement of 0.56 yards per play and 79.9 yards per game from his first year as defensive coordinator in 2016.
The Huskies finished tied No. 2 in the nation in sacks, behind Miami (Fla.), with 43. NIU ranked No. 11 in third down defense, tied for No. 23 in passes intercepted. The Huskies tied for No. 32 in scoring defense, giving up 22 points per game.
Consensus All-American and 2017 Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Sutton Smith blossomed under Kane's guidance. Smith originally came to NIU as a running back, but Kane and NIU coach Rod Carey moved him to defensive end after watching Smith make a hard tackle during spring ball in 2016.
This past season, Smith totaled 63 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble returns for touchdowns.
Kane first coached at NIU under former coach Dave Doeren in various roles from 2011-14. He returned NIU in Jan. 2016 after spending the 2015 season coaching linebackers at his alma mater, the University of Kansas.
"Coach Kane is an awesome mentor," former NIU linebacker Bobby Jones IV said during the 2017 season. "He teaches us to play fast, hard, relentless football. He puts that in our head every single day – Chase the ball. He definitely pushes us to play our best."