Although the season ended with a thud in a bowl game, Northern Illinois has awarded head coach Rod Carey a performance-based on-year contract extension. NIU announced the contract extension to Carey, which now keeps him under contract through June 2023, on Thursday.
“I would like to congratulate Coach Carey, the NIU football staff, and the entire NIU football program on a championship season.” NIU Associate Vice-President Sean Frazier said in a released statement. “We are excited that Coach Carey has accepted the additional year to remain at NIU and continue to build on our football championship successes. Our football program, has embraced The Hard Way mentality, and our student-athletes do things the right way – compete to win championships, graduate student-athletes and serve the community. This is, in large part, due to Coach Carey’s leadership and vision for the football program.”
Carey took over as head coach of the program prior to the Orange Bowl in 2012 after head coach Dave Doeren had left to accept a coaching job at NC State. Carey has coached NIU to a record of 52-30 that is highlighted by two MAC championships in 2014 and 2018 but anchored by a bowl record of 0-6 including this week’s loss in the Boca Raton Bowl against Conference USA champion UAB.
Carey previously had his contract at NIU extended after the 2013 season, which fell shy of a chance to play in a BCS bowl game. At the time, his contract was extended to run through the middle of 2019. Earlier this season, in early November, NIU quietly extended Carey’s contract through the 2021 season (expiring in summer 2022).
A day after signing day, Northern Illinois put the finishing touches on its Class of 2016 with the addition of Oregon State transfer quarterback Seth Collins.
“We’re really happy to have Seth, he’s a quality, quality young man,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey in a released statement. “He’s obviously a fantastic football player and a great quarterback, and he comes from a great family who we have gotten to know during this process. We look forward to having him on campus with the rest of the class this summer and to 2017 when he will be eligible to suit up and play for us.”
As noted by Carey, Collins will not be eligible to play for the Huskies until the 2017 season. NCAA transfer rules mean Collins will have to sit out the 2016 season, but he can join the team in all other activities other than playing games.
Collins left Oregon State as speculation grew he was possibly going to be moved to wide receiver. At NIU it looks as though he will be locked into playing quarterback for the MAC squad. Collins started seven games for the Beavers in 2015 before being sidelined with a knee injury.
WHO: Northern Illinois (11-2) vs. Marshall (12-1)
WHAT: The inaugural Boca Raton Bowl
WHERE: FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
WHEN: 6:00 p.m. ET Dec. 23 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The brand new Boca Raton Bowl has quite the match-up of non-power conference champions. The champions of Conference USA (Marshall) and the MAC (Northern Illinois) should provide for a good, quality game. For Marshall, it may be one last attempt to prove itself to be the top non-power conference champion after passed over by Boise State for a spot in the New Years Six line-up. Marshall and NIU combined for a record of 23-3 this season.
Marshall’s offense centers around the veteran quarterback Rakeem Cato. Cato should be able to find his targets — Tommy Shuler and Davonte Allen are his top two receivers — against NIU’s secondary, which ranks 64th in the nation in pass defense. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet though, as NIU should be expected to bring pressure in the backfield. NIU recorded 30 sacks this season, but they go up against a Marshall offensive line that has done well in protecting their quarterback. Cato may have to extend some plays with his feet at times. Fortunately for the Conference USA champions and head coach Doc Holliday, this is something Cato does well. Cato has rushed for 457 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Marshall went 3-0 against the MAC this season with wins against Miami, Ohio and Akron, but NIU will be the biggest test for the Thundering Herd. NIU started the season off a little bit on a slow note as they looked to replace Jordan Lynch, but the Huskies ended the season hitting their stride at a very good time. Drew Hare has come along as a dual-threat player under center, but the running game is powered mostly by Cameron Stingily, a tough and physical back with the ability to wear down Marshall’s defense.
Marshall has won three straight bowl games dating back to 2009. The Huskies of NIU are looking to snap a two-game losing streak in postseason bowl action. Head coach Rod Carey is 0-2 in bowl games, including one Orange Bowl loss to Florida State in an interim role at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren left the Huskies for NC State.
THE PREDICTION: NIU 34, Marshall 31
Northern Illinois wide receiver Tommylee Lewis will be out for the remainder of the 2014 season due to a lower-body injury suffered in the game. Head coach Rod Carey confirmed the injury report via a statement issued by Northern Illinois athletics Tuesday evening.
Lewis played wide receiver for the Huskies but also played a role on special teams. His versatility was recognized by the Paul Hornung Award committee after playing in the first two weeks of the season before being sidelined. Northern Illinois says the school will apply for a medical redshirt for the senior through the MAC, supposing that is what Lewis will wish to do. Lewis has never redshirted but because he has already played this season he would lose the normal redshirt option.
Lewis has accounted for 3,617 all-purpose yards for Northern Illinois in 39 career games.
Northern Illinois flirted with a second straight BCS bowl game appearance in 2013, and although the Huskies stumbled late and missed out on the big money bowls the future looks bright with head coach Rod Carey in charge. On Friday NIU announced a contract extension for Carey that will have him lined up to lead the program through June 30, 2019.
Carey will also receive a bump in pay in 2014. According to a database of coaching salaries in 2013 compiled by USA Today, Carey was paid a total of $376,000 last season. According to a statement by the school, Carey will be among the top half of the highest paid coaches in the MAC. Going off of last season’s coaching salary numbers, that would mean Carey will be paid between $400,000 and $513,000 in 2014.
“This new agreement is something we’ve been working on for several months and we’re excited to be able to announce the extension for Rod [Carey] at this time,” NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier said. “We are looking forward to seeing him on the NIU sidelines for years to come and to the continued success of our football program.”
As a first year head coach, Carey was the fourth lowest paid head coach in the MAC. Under Carey, Northern Illinois completed a 12-0 regular season but lost their final two games of the season with a loss to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game and to Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Carey also served as interim head coach for the 2013 Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren left to accept a job offer at North Carolina State.
“I am really happy and excited about where NIU football is and where it’s going,” he said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of it. It takes a community and it’s more about the players and my staff than it is about me. Sean [Frazier]’s leadership along with President Baker is unbelievable. I feel lucky to be working with them and couldn’t think of better partners in this journey that NIU football is taking.”
Carey will now have some work cut out for him in 2014 as the Huskies embark on the post-Jordan Lynch era. Northern Illinois has always seemed to succeed around the play of one key offensive player, so now Carey must find the next name to work around. As far as the MAC goes, the Huskies should be able to remain one of the top threats in the conference in 2014 and beyond. Carey must continue to keep the program chugging forward and building off the momentum of the past two years. Perhaps the program hit their ceiling, but Carey has to avoid hitting the floor. That is not likely to be the case any time too soon.