Northern Illinois has hired Steve Crutchley as its wide receivers coach, the program announced Tuesday.
The majority of Crutchley’s collegiate coaching experience came in the Land of Lincoln; he was the running backs coach at Southern Illinois from 2008-12 and an assistant at Western Illinois from 2013-15. He spent the 2016 season as the head coach at Eau Claire Memorial High School in Wisconsin.
“I’m really excited about bringing Steve to NIU as part of our coaching staff,” NIU head coach Rod Carey said in a statement. “I’ve known him for 17 years. I respected him as a player first and have watched his coaching career closely. I know he’s going to bring a lot to us – from knowledge about the state of Illinois from his time at Southern Illinois and Western Illinois, to on-field coaching and recruiting. As a person, he’s as good as they come; he’s a quality individual who will relate to our players and to recruits really well.”
Crutchley arrives at a crucial time for the Carey and the Huskies. A program that ascended to the Orange Bowl upon Carey’s promotion to head coach has dipped from 12-2 in 2013, to 11-3 in ’14, to 8-6 in ’15 and finally to 5-7 last fall.
“NIU Football has been a great program, it has great tradition and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Crutchley said. “It’s a program I’ve followed throughout my coaching career. I’ve known Coach Carey for a long time from his days at Wisconsin-Stout when I was at Eau Claire. I’m a Midwest guy, and this is close to home in Wisconsin so it’s a good fit for me and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Northern Illinois finished 73rd nationally in passing last season, averaging 224 yards per game through the air. Christian Blake, a rising senior, stands as the team’s leading returning wideout with 34 grabs for 457 yards and two touchdowns.