Football: February 2011 Archives


NIU Football.jpgIt's officially out - the 2011 NIU Football Schedule! Plan accordingly. This year's schedule features seven homes games, six in DeKalb and one in Chicago. Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune and Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald are all over it. Soldier Field Showdown II - NIU's game against Wisconsin - headlines the Trib's coverage, while the Willhite highlighted the three bowl teams the Huskies will face in his blog entry.


|'s Andrea Adelson previewed 10 non-AQ programs, including Northern Illinois. She talks about some of the issues facing the Huskies during upcoming spring practice and some things for fans to look for with a new coaching staff in place.


Spann-Chad.jpgAndrea Adelson of is counting down the Top 25 non-AQ players of 2010. Northern Illinois University tailback and 2010 Vern Smith Award winner Chad Spann comes in at No. 18 on the countdown. Spann had an incredible 2010 campaign, rushing for a league-leading 1,388 yards, his second straight 1,000-yard season, and scoring a school-record 22 touchdowns.


Football posted its team Spring Previews and 2010 Review on its site. CFN broke down NIU's 2010 season and gives its take on the 2011 Huskies including head coach Dave Doeren's first recruiting class.


| posted a series of 2011 Mid-American Conference Spring Previews. The site posted it's 2011 Early Rankings, in which the Huskies were ranked No. 1 in the MAC West; Why Teams Should be Excited; Why Should Teams Should Be Grouchy and What Teams Need to Work On.


Coach Doeren at the HASF kickoff.jpgTom Dienhart of has a great feature story on the rise of NIU head football coach Dave Doeren. He discusses how the various stops along Doeren's career have prepared him for his current post here at NIU. If you want to meet Doeren and his coaching staff, stop by Fatty's Pub and Grille in DeKalb tonight from 6-8 p.m.


Marks-Jack.jpgNorthern Illinois unofficially added senior tight end Jack Marks (Orland Park, Ill./Marist HS) to its list of 2011 football signees Monday as Huskies' Head Coach Dave Doeren announced that the former walk-on has earned a scholarship, effective immediately. 

In 2010, Marks played in every game for the Huskies as one of NIU's top two tight ends and made a pair of appearances in the starting line-up.  He finished the season with a career-high eight catches for 75 yards and averaged 9.4 yards per catch.  Five of his catches came versus Illinois, when he totaled 55 receiving yards, including a career-long 22-yard catch.  He also caught passes versus Toledo, Western Michigan and Iowa State.
"We were honored to award Jack with a scholarship after all the hard work he has put into the program here," Doeren said.  "He is a true Huskie and has earned the right to be a scholarship athlete at NIU."

In all, Marks has played in 22 games over the last two years and has nine catches for 80 yards.  Marks has continued a family football tradition at Northern Illinois as two of his uncles played football at NIU in the 1970s.
Northern Illinois coaches have long acknowledged the value walk-ons bring to the football program with Marks the latest non-scholarship player to be rewarded.  Current Huskies Jason Schepler, Sean Progar and Rashaan Melvin began their careers as walk-ons as did 2010 seniors Chad Spann, who now stands as NIU's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, and Jake Coffman, who ranks on the Huskies' list for career quarterback sacks.  Spann, Coffman, Progar and Schepler all earned All-Mid-American Conference accolades in 2010 while playing key roles for the record-setting 11-3 Humanitarian Bowl Champions.
"One of my goals as the head coach at Northern Illinois is to continue to have a very strong walk-on program," Doeren said.  "Individuals like Jack Marks who come here without a scholarship are very important to the success of our team."
Northern Illinois opens its first spring practice under Doeren on Tuesday, March 22.  Season tickets for the 2011 six-game home schedule are on sale now for just $99.  Call 815-753-1923 or go online to


Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren and Huskie Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher are in Lake Forest, Illinois today for the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony.  The annual event features a "who's who" of football on the professional, collegiate and high school level in the Chicago area.  

Doeren will introduce the keynote speaker, his former boss and on Sept. 17, 2011, coaching foe, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.   Among the honorees are former Chicago Bear Richard Dent, who will be recognized for his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and long-time Big Ten Conference referee Bill LeMonnier.   Bears' General Manager Jerry Angelo and Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald are also expected to be in attendance, and the chapter will present $18,000 in college scholarships to deserving high school seniors.   The NFF gathering also provides a chance for Doeren to meet and interact with more of the Chicago media as the event will draw coverage from across the city. 


Chad Spann 2.jpgBy now, all Huskie fans know the story of former NIU running back Chad Spann. Marc Telander summed up Spann's career in this piece on, telling the former walk-on's story to an audience in a different part of the country. Spann, who played in the game for Texas (even though he's from Indiana), started for the Lone Star State in the game Feb. 5, 2011 in the Alamodome.


Tom Dienhart of posted quick previews of each Mid-American Conference team's spring drills in his post today.


| blogger Adam Rittenberg highlighted the 2011 MAC-Big Ten match ups in his blog post today. Rittenberg, with the help of Andrea Adelson, broke down a handful of the 11 contests between the two conferences this season. The Northern Illinois-Wisconsin game Sept. 17 was one of the games the two discussed.

The Northern Illinois-Wisconsin game intrigues me, and the Badgers would be foolish to look past the Huskies. For starters, Northern Illinois is now coached by former Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, who knows Wisconsin's players and the staff quite well. Although NIU loses standout running back Chad Spann, star quarterback Chandler Harnish is back.

Adelson writes of NIU: "I know they have pulled the upset against the Big Ten in the last several years, but they haven't played anybody as good as Wisconsin in the last three [this team rarely gets blown out, though, so that is one thing to keep in mind]."
As many NIU fans know, the Huskies DID play a team as good as Wisconsin, facing the Badgers two years ago in Madison, falling 28-20. Not sure if Adelson meant this Wisconsin team is better than the '09 edition, that's for Wisconsin fans to debate. However, playing the Badgers at Camp Randall is a formidable task for any squad, MAC or Big Ten.

Adelson is taking Miami (OH), her pick to win the MAC next year, to defeat Minnesota the same day. Former NIU head coach Jerry Kill has a very good memory and I think he's going to want a little payback for the loss to the RedHawks in the 2010 MAC Championship game, even if he's with a different team.


It's never too early to talk football.'s Ivan Maisel took a look at the non-conference schedule of teams in the Mid-American Conference in his blog post today. His colleague, Andrea Adelson, posted this piece today listing all the MAC's non-conference schedules.

In looking at the schedules, Army is the most common MAC opponent in 2011, playing four MAC schools, including a Sept. 3 date at Huskie Stadium with Northern Illinois. Cincinnati, Michigan, Ohio State and UConn are next playing two MAC schools next year. Another game of note, former NIU head coach Jerry Kill will get another crack at Miami (OH) when the RedHawks travel to Minnesota to face the Gophers Sept. 17, the same day as NIU's game with Wisconsin at Soldier Field.


Sam Hurd.jpgFormer Huskie and current Dallas Cowboy wide receiver is the Cowboy's recipient of the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. Hurd, who overcame offseason thumb surgery, was voted special teams captain by his teammates.

The Ed Block Courage Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected children and ending the cycle of abuse.The purpose is to raise awareness and prevention of child abuse. The objective is coupled with the Foundation's commitment to celebrating players of inspiration in the NFL.


Harnish Award.jpgA pair of Huskies had a busy Super Bowl weekend. Quarterback Chandler Harnish was in Columbus, Ohio Saturday evening where he was honored by the Touchdown Club of Columbus as the 2010 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. Harnish was also named MVP of the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl and the uDrove Humanitarian Award. 

You might recall former Huskie defensive end Jake Coffman was honored by the same organization last year as its 2009 Male Athlete of the Year. It was a tremendous experience for Jake, and we're sure Chandler was just a memorable. We'll have a story on Harnish's weekend at

Just before the Touchdown Club of Columbus' annual awards banquet, one of Chandler's former teammates was in action on the gridiron. Chad Spann started for Team Texas, (yes we realize Chad is from Indiana, but due to a shortage of Texas running backs in the game, he was "traded" and we'll leave it at that) in the NFLPA Texas vs. the Nation at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.  Spann helped lead Team Texas to a 13-7 win over the Nation.


Following it's ranking of the MAC's 2011 recruiting classes, went a little more in depth into Dave Doeren's 2011 recruiting class and identified the Huskies top five recruits in this post.


Dave Doeren's first recruiting effort was so solid, it took up two spots on CollegeFootball's list, ranking the Huskies' signing class Nos. 5 and 6! There is a school missing on this list (assuming they don't correct this entry before you read it). See if you can figure it out.


|'s Andrea Adelson answered John from Glendale Heights' query about Dave Doeren's 2011 signing class in the most recent Non-AQ Mailbag entry.


Ryan Wood of the Daily Chronicle caught up with one of Dave Doeren's signees, running back Jamal Womble yesterday and filed this story on one of the newest Huskies. Wood chronicles what brought Womble, a highly recruited athlete out of high school, to Northern Illinois.



In addition to introducing 22 new members of the Huskie "family" on Wednesday as he discussed the 2011 NIU football signees, new Northern Illinois Head Football Coach Dave Doeren used the National Signing Day press conference to introduce his entire coaching staff with their responsibilities and recruiting areas.  You can read the transcript of the press conference here, where Doeren also mentions his connection to many of these coaches, or watch the archived version of the press conference on Huskies All-Access.
While each coach has been written about individually since being added to the staff, we thought it might be helpful to see the complete list.  Click on the names to go to their individual online bios.

Matt Canada, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks (Last School: Indiana)
Jay Niemann, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties (Last School: Hardin-Simmons)
Rod Carey, Offensive Line (Last School: North Dakota)
Bob Cole, Wide Receivers (Last School: Western Kentucky)
Eddie Faulkner, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator (Last School: Ball State)
Kevin Kane, Tight Ends & Fullbacks (Last School: Wisconsin)
Tom Matukewicz, Linebackers/Life Skills Coordinator
Richard McNutt, Cornerbacks (Last School: Kent State)
Ryan Nielsen, Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator (Last School: Tennessee-Martin)

The four graduate assistants on the football staff last year have remained with the program, led by Joe Tripodi (offense) and Melvin Rice (defense), along with Alex Krutsch (video) and Morgan Liggett (operations). Rice and Krutsch are former Huskie players. 

The director of football operations has become one of the "go-to" guys on every football staff and NIU is no exception.  To fill that important role, whose myriad jobs include planning and coordinating all aspects of team travel, organizing recruiting weekends, managing the budget and serving as a liaison between the football staff and players and several administrative units within the athletic department, Doeren tabbed Matt Lipman.  Lipman is a Miami (Ohio) graduate who spent three years working in operations for the Cleveland Browns and was most recently the assistant director of football operations at Wisconsin.

Pete Roley, who joined the Huskies last August to work in the video area, is also still on board and is handling a variety of projects as well as working with Krutsch on video.  

With the change in the football coaching staff, Northern Illinois also has new faces on its Sports Performance staff.  A warm welcome to:

Brad Ohrt, Director of Sports Performance (Last School: Western Carolina)
Matt Jacobs, Assistant Director (Last School: Western Carolina)

They join Chad Bower, the veteran of the staff, and graduate assistants Adam Lang and Marci Hoppa to work with NIU student-athletes on all 17 sports teams.

So there, at a glance is the current line-up and some of the names and faces of the current Northern Illinois football program all wrapped up in one place.  We'll look to get to know these coaches more in the weeks leading up to the opening of spring practice on March 22.   

Doeren's Aiming For A BCS Bowl

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During the signing day press conference Wednesday, first-year head football coach Dave Doeren established that one of his goals is for NIU to reach a BCS bowl game.  He wants the Huskies to reach and maintain the same status that TCU and Boise State have achieved recently.  The Daily Chronicle's Ryan Wood caught up with Doeren on signing day to talk more about his vision for the Huskie football program.  Click here to read today's story.


As many of you know, yesterday was National Letter of Intent Day. The day when all the talented high school seniors and junior college players from around the country make their commitments to the college of their choice. This year's class was NIU head coach Dave Doeren's first. Doeren and his staff signed 22 yesterday.

Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald broke down the roster player by player in his blog and posted his evaluation of Doeren's signing class in this story in today's paper. Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune highlighted the importance of the signing of Devonte' Majors in his story in today's paper.

The Rockford Register Star's Jay Taft recapped Doeren's first two months here at NIU from getting to DeKalb, hiring his staff and NIU's recruiting class in today's paper. Rick Armstrong of the Aurora Beacon News points out the even though there's a limited number of Illinois signees, that it won't be a trend in the future in his recruiting wrap up piece.

Ryan Wood of the Daily Chronicle recapped the class and gave a quick take on each signee in this story, then John Sahly offered offered his opinion on Doeren's first class in his story today.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch filed this piece on NIU's four St. Louis-area signees in today's paper. While this story by Scott Powers of on Jamal Womble had been posted on Monday, we wanted to save it for after signing day. gave the Doeren and his staff a favorable review of their recruiting class ranking Northern Illinois's 2011 class second in the Mid-American Conference behind Toledo.


The topic of conversation the last 24 hours has been the weather. We here at NIU Athletics Media Relations want to assure our fans that even a snow storm will not slow down our coverage of National Signing Day. will be your source for all the latest Huskie signees. There will be a live blog, video highlights of each signee and a roster of Dave Doeren's first signing class on the Signing Day Central page.

Be sure to catch the live press conference at 3 p.m. CST through Huskie All-Access. Memberships start at $6.95 a month.

MAC Basketball Blog

MAC Basketball Blog