[David Toney - For Shaw Media]
Coming up short of a Mid-American Conference West title and a home loss to Ball State still stings Jackson, and is one thing fueling the defensive coordinator as he coaches his way through his first full spring in DeKalb in 14 years.
“We didn’t get the job done my first time here,” Jackson said. “I always look at that as part of my reason for coming back is not winning the championship. [I’m] coming back here to be the team that [wins] the championship and hopefully puts a lot of championships back in the mantelpiece out there.”
The memories of the 2005 season and the environment on game day – NIU averaged 22,176 in attendance at home games – still stick out in Jackson’s mind.
“Part of the reason I came back here is because that memory of Northern Illinois in 2005. If we didn’t lead the MAC in attendance, we had to be pretty close to the top,” Jackson said. Every game here was an event. It was electric. We had an exciting brand of offense. I think we had a very exciting brand of defense.”
Just to add on to the nostalgia of DeKalb, Jackson and his wife, Renae, bought their first house in DeKalb. They now have twins, daughter Alana Mae and son Dakota John.
The Huskies will derive a familiar identity from the gruff-sounding Jackson, whose voice roars out over the practice field, whether indoors at the Chessick Practice Center or out on the Huskie Stadium turf.
For an NIU defense that was among the top in FBS Division I in sacks and particularly adept at disrupting plays in the backfield, Jackson still expects his defense to enforce its will against opponents.
“We want to be a physical defense. We want it to be not fun to play against us,” Jackson said. “We want opposing teams to ... have some bit of fear or intimidation that it’s not going to be a pleasant game to play.