Depending your preference of Twitter sources, NIU football coach Rod Carey could be hired as the next head coach at Temple as soon as this weekend.
No one at NIU is saying anything about these reports – “We don’t comment on other team’s searches,” was the response I received from a representative of the athletic department Wednesday – which makes this the perfect time for complete and total conjecture about Carey’s replacement. If he decides to leave.
Matt Canada was an assistant at NIU from 1998 to 2003. He went to Indiana, where he worked his way up to offensive coordinator in 2007, and in 2011 returned to DeKalb to fill that role under Dave Doeren (a name that will pop up a few times here). He then went to Wisconsin, NC State (with Doeren again), and then Pittsburgh and LSU before becoming the interim head coach at Maryland at the beginning of the 2018 season.
When Maryland gave the permanent job to Mike Locksley after the season, Canada became a free agent. His name is being tossed around for virtually every school needing an offensive coordinator. But why not a head coach?
It could be a good situation for him. The Huskies should be good next year, so he could pull a Doeren: Stay here for two years and then get a Power Five gig. He’s an offensive-minded coach; the Huskies struggled on offense last season. He’d even get a return trip to Maryland in 2020.
Then there’s Kevin Kane on the defensive side. He was an assistant at NIU from 2011 to ’14, left for Kansas for a season, then returned to DeKalb as the defensive coordinator. He went to SMU this year as the defensive coordinator. He was nominated for a Broyles Award, given each year to the top assistant coach in college football, but was not one of the finalists.
[Dave Reginek for Shaw Media]
I don’t think anyone would complain if NIU brought Kane back. I would call him the favorite, if only by a slight margin, over Canada. Mostly because I don’t necessarily think Canada will turn down a Power Five OC gig, especially if it pays as much or more than the NIU job, where Carey was to make $533,460 in base salary next season. Economic realities and whatnot.
That brings us to a name I haven’t seen connected to the job yet, and one I’m sure will be granted an interview – current NIU defensive coordinator Jeff Knowles. He spent three years under Doeren as the defensive quality control coach before taking over as the Huskies’ linebackers coach in 2017 and replacing Kane as defensive coordinator in 2018.
Obviously, the big tick against him is a lack of head coaching experience. But Kane doesn’t have any either. Knowles also has the advantage of keeping some continuity in the program. It will decrease the chances of transfers from both current players and commits. You might need to guard against some kids from Illinois deciding all of a sudden that they want to go to Philly for whatever reason.
If I had to bet, and on the one hand I could take Kane, Knowles or Canada as the next coach, or on the other hand I could bet on literally anybody else, I’d go with one of those three. But there may be some interesting other choices.
Joe Rudolph, the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin since 2015, is in the market to be a mid-major head coach, as he also is in the running for the Temple job. Similar to Canada, he specializes in offense, and the Huskies could use more of that these days.
Here are two more names to throw out there. Neither have a chance, but they bear mentioning for different reasons. One is Jerry Kill. If Carey does leave, some people will be quick to throw out his name. To which I can only say: Don’t. I don’t think it’s happening. Kill has a good job as athletic director at Southern Illinois, which is a much better situation considering his health. Frequent seizures are what forced him to step down as Minnesota’s head coach, although he did a try to make a comeback as Rutgers offensive coordinator in 2017.
Now here’s one that’s beyond a long shot, and it’s just fun to toss out as a hypothetical – Jordan Lynch. He just wrapped his first year as head coach at Mount Carmel, leading the Caravan to the Class 7A semifinals. He also was running backs coach for the Huskies in 2017. And I think he had some notable accomplishments as a player when he was here. No time to look it up.
[Mary Beth Nolan]
If I’m handicapping the most likely head coach of the NIU program at the start of the 2019 season, I’m picking Carey. Then Kane, Canada and Knowles in that order. Followed by the field.
And as everybody knows, predicting these sort of things for a position that isn’t even open has no downside at all.
• Eddie Carifio is the Daily Chronicle sports editor. Email him at email@example.com.