Matt Canada, a member of the Northern Illinois coaching staff during one of the most successful eras in NIU's history, returns to NIU in 2011 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Canada spent six seasons (1998-2003) as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois under former head coach Joe Novak, working with the NIU running backs (1998-2000) and quarterbacks (2001-02) before taking over as offensive coordinator in the Huskies' landmark 2003 season. He has spent the last seven years at Indiana University, where he coached the Hoosiers' quarterbacks each season, became passing game coordinator in 2005 and 2006, and served as offensive coordinator for the past four years.
At Northern Illinois, Canada was part of the staff that revived the Huskie program, from a team that was 2-9 in his first season of 1998 to the team that upset Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State en route to a No. 12 Associated Press and No. 10 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) ranking in 2003.
Canada coached players whose names fill the Huskie record books, including current Atlanta Falcons' running back and 2003 second-team All-American (AP) Michael Turner, fellow thousand-yard rushers William Andrews and Thomas Hammock, and quarterbacks Chris Finlen and Josh Haldi, who rank among the top five quarterbacks in school history in passing and total offense. The Huskie offense under Canada also featured current Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Ryan Diem and former New York Jets and Tennessee Titans wide receiver Justin McCareins.
At Indiana, Canada's quarterbacks (Ben Chappell, Kellen Lewis and Blake Powers) over the past seven seasons hold the top three spots in single season touchdowns, yards, completions, attempts and completion percentage. In four years as IU offensive coordinator, the Hoosiers had an All-American (James Hardy), three first team All-Big Ten receivers, an all-conference left tackle and an all-league quarterback (Lewis). Chappell led the Big Ten in passing yards, completions and attempts in 2010 while setting the Indiana single-season records in all three categories. Indiana set a school record and finished 13th nationally in passing with 287.2 yards per game. The Hoosiers averaged 27.2 points per game and scored 35-plus points five times.
Lewis set the Indiana school record for career passing touchdowns and established new single-season marks for passing yards, passing touchdowns and total yards as the 2007 Hoosiers scored a school-record 412 points under Canada's direction. IU increased its scoring offense by 7.6 points per game, ran for almost 44 more yards per game and earned 58 more total yards per game in 2007 as compared to 2006. A 1993 graduate of Indiana, Canada began his coaching career as a student assistant (1992-93) and graduate assistant (1994-95) at IU. He made his full-time coaching debut in 1996 at Butler University, where he oversaw the quarterbacks and wideouts before moving up to offensive coordinator in 1997.