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Northern Illinois Huskies football: Wikis


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Current season Current season
First season 1899
Head coach Jerry Kill
1st year, 6–7–0  (.462)
Home stadium Huskie Stadium
Field Brigham Field
Year built 1964
Stadium capacity 24,000
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location DeKalb, Illinois
Conference Mid-American Conference
Division West
All-time record 486–445–50 (.521)
Postseason bowl record 3–6–0
Conference titles 9
Division titles 1
Current uniform
Colors Black and Red              
Fight song "Huskie Fight Song"
Website NIU Huskie Football

The Northern Illinois Huskies Football team represents Northern Illinois University in the Mid-American Conference of the NCAA's Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision.



NIU's football program was established in the late 1800s, playing its first ever game against DeKalb High School in 1899 and was led by coach John L. Keith to the team's first ever victory. NIU started out in the independent scene from 1899 through 1919 before joining the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The team became independent again in 1925. NIU returned to the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1928 and finished the season winless for the first time. In 1929 however, Red Evans took over as the head football coach and immediately twisted the downhill fate of his team as he led his squad to a 6-1-1 record. Evans led the Huskies to continuous winning seasons since his take over, and his efforts paid off in 1938 as NIU captured the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, the team's first title. He followed it up with three more championships (1941, '44, and '46) and even led the Huskies' to a back-to-back bowl game appearance in 1946 and '47 (unfortunately, both on a losing cause to Evansville first in the Turkey Bowl then in the Hoosier Bowl). NIU then left for the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1950 but, with the exception of the spotless season (9-0-0) in 1951 that earned the team a 5th conference title, failed to make a decent showing in its first few years with its new home. Howard Fletcher though had other plans as he picked up the pieces of the miserable 0-8-1 season from Robert Kahler in 1956. The Huskies' had a slow progress that picked up in the late 1950s. The team's third bowl game appearance in 1962, although a loss, was only the beginning of good things to come as in the following season, the Huskies completed their sixth undefeated season which earned them the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship, an AP College Division National championship selection, and a ticket to the Mineral Water Bowl which the team eventually won over Missouri State. The team made it a three-peat championship, adding up the 1964 and 1965 conference titles. NIU became independent from 1966 through '72 before joining the Mid-American Athletic Conference in 1973. The team claimed the MAC title in 1983 then went on to their first Bowl Game in the Division I-A, the California Bowl, which the Huskies won over Cal State-Fullerton. The team had no permanent affiliation after leaving the MAC in 1986; first became independent from 1987-92, then joined the Big West Conference from 1993 through '95, became independent again in '96, then finally was admitted back into the Mid-American Conference in 1997.

As of 2006, NIU has won 9 conference and 1 division titles, appeared in eight Division I-A and College Division Bowl Games (winning three), and has accumulated over 400 wins and an all time winning mark that is above .500.

Huskies Football enter the 2008 season having produced a 1,000 yard rusher in nine consecutive seasons from 1999 through 2007, including rushers Thomas Hammock, Michael Turner, Garrett Wolfe and Justin Anderson.


The Joe Novak Era (1996-2007)

Joe Novak took over the Huskie program in December 1995, and coached his first NIU game in September 1996. The first 3 years of Novak's tenure proved to be tumultuous, as his Huskie squads won a total of 3 games between 1996 and 1998. Despite this, Novak kept his job and turned the program around. In 1999, Northern Illinois won 5 games, and in 2000 Novak started a string of 7 consecutive winning seasons, going 6-5 in both 2000 and 2001. After a 1-3 start to the 2002 season, fans began to see the fruits of Novak's labor as the team ripped off 7 consecutive wins, and only a 33-30 loss in their final game against rival Toledo prevented a MAC Championship Game appearance.

Optimism was high to start the 2003 season, with 12 returning starters including future NFL players Michael Turner, Doug Free, Brad Cieslak, P.J. Fleck and Dan Sheldon. On opening weekend, the Huskies beat #14 Maryland 20-17 in overtime. Then, the Huskies travelled to Tuscaloosa and beat #21 Alabama 16-13. After beating Iowa State the following week, the Huskies were rolling and won their first 7 games. Following their week 5 win against Ohio, the first BCS standings were released, and by week 7 the Huskies had climbed to #10 overall. Novak and the Huskies could not keep that momentum going, as they lost in week 8 at #22 Bowling Green, which also featured the first ever ESPN GameDay appearance for a MAC football game. The Huskies would lose only one more game in 2003, to Toledo, finishing the year 10-2, unranked, and uninvited to a bowl game.

Novak's 2004 and 2006 teams both went to bowl games. The 2004 team went to the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California and was the first Huskie team to go bowling in 21 years. The Huskies fell behind early 14-0 to a Troy team that featured current NFLer DeMarcus Ware, but were able to rally behind future NFL running back Garrett Wolfe and the accurate passing of Josh Haldi to win 34-21. In 2006, Wolfe and company returned to a bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl, against TCU and lost 37-7.

Novak's final year was a tough one, winning only 2 games and finishing at the bottom of the MAC West. Overall Novak won 63 games as the Huskie's head coach. He currently is retired and resides in North Carolina.


Conference Championships

  • 1938 - Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1941 - Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Co-Champions
  • 1944 - Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1946 - Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1951 - Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1963 - Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1964 - Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Co-Champions
  • 1965 - Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions
  • 1983 - Mid-American Athletic Conference Champions

Division Championships

  • 2005 - MAC - West Division Champions

NIU Bowl History

Division I-A Bowl Games
Year Bowl Game Result Opponent Score
2009 International Bowl L South Florida Bulls 3-27
2008 Independence Bowl L Louisiana Tech 10-17
2006 Poinsettia Bowl L Texas Christian 7-37
2004 Silicon Valley Classic W Troy State 34-21
1983 California Bowl W Cal State-Fullerton 20-13
College Division/Other Bowl Games
Year Bowl Game Result Opponent Score
1965 Mineral Water Bowl L North Dakota 20-37
1963 Mineral Water Bowl W Missouri State 21-14
1962 Mineral Water Bowl L Adams State 20-23
1947 Hoosier Bowl L Evansville 0-20
1946 Turkey Bowl L Evansville 7-19

Coaches/Team Officials

  • Jerry Kill - Head Coach
  • Tracy Claeys - Defensive Coordinator
  • Matt Limegrover - Offensive Coordinator
  • Pat Poore - Assistant Coach/Quarterbacks
  • Rob Reeves - Assistant Coach/Running Backs
  • Brian Anderson - Assistant Coach/Tight Ends
  • Harold Etheridge - Assistant Coach/Offensive Line
  • P.J. Fleck - Assistant Coach/Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator
  • Tom Matukewicz - Assistant Coach/Linebackers
  • Jay Sawvel - Assistant Coach/Defensive Backs/Special Teams
  • Jeff Phelps - Assistant Coach/Defensive Line
  • Brad Brachear - Graduate Assistant/Defense
  • Nate Griffin - Graduate Assistant/Video
  • Marc Webel - Graduate Assistant/Offense
  • Adam Clark - Director of Football Operations
  • Eric Klein - Sports Performance

Notable Alumni in NFL

See also


External links


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