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Mike Dunbar, a 35-year college coaching veteran whose résumé includes extensive experience as a head coach and offensive coordinator at every level of football, joined the Northern Illinois University football program in January 2012 as offensive coordinator.
Following the Iowa game on Sept. 1, Dunbar stepped down from the position in order to battle cancer. He remains involved with the program as he is able, attending meetings and serving in an advisory role with the Huskie offense.
Dunbar brings familiarity with the region and the Mid-American Conference, thanks to stints at Northwestern University (2001-06), where he served as offensive coordinator from 2002-06, and at the University of Toledo (1992-96), where he was offensive coordinator before adding assistant head coach duties in his final two years.
Most recently, Dunbar spent the 2010 season as offensive coordinator with New Mexico State. The Aggies were the fourth Football Bowl Subdivision offense Dunbar has run.
Dunbar was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Minnesota during the 2007-08 seasons. Under his guidance, the Golden Gophers averaged more than 400 yards of total offense per game in 2007 as Minnesota set a school record for pass completions (262) and had the second-most passing yards (2,949) in school history. Also that season, he mentored Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber to third-team Freshman All-America and Freshman All-Big Ten honors as the Gopher signal-caller set new school records for completions, attempts, yards and touchdown passes.
Dunbar, a Washington native, went to Minnesota from the University of California, where he was offensive coordinator in 2006 when Cal shared the Pac-10 title while scoring a league-leading 32.8 points per game. The Golden Bears ranked 12th in the nation in total offense in 2006 and were ranked among the top 35 in the country in both passing offense (17th) and rushing offense (33rd).
As offensive coordinator at Northwestern from 2002-05, Dunbar helped the Wildcats rank fourth in the country in total offense (500.3 ypg) in 2005. He tutored NU quarterback Brett Basanez, who set 30 Northwestern offensive records and ranks among the Big Ten's all-time leaders in multiple categories. Dunbar's offense set Sun Bowl records for total yards (584) and first downs (33) in 2005 against UCLA. He began his tenure at Northwestern as tight ends/H-backs coach and special teams coordinator in 2001.
Prior to Northwestern, Dunbar was the head football coach at the University of Northern Iowa from 1997-2000, compiling a 29-15 record as head coach. The Panthers were ranked in the Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 every year of Dunbar's tenure.
During Dunbar's stint as offensive coordinator at Toledo, the Rockets set 21 offensive school records and went 11-0-1 with a Las Vegas Bowl victory in 1995. UT posted a 36-18-2 record during his five seasons in Toledo.
As the head coach at Central Washington from 1987-91, Dunbar was named Columbia Football Association Coach of the Year and the Kodak Region I Coach of the Year three times. His Central Washington teams earned two No. 1 national rankings and in 1991, extended a regular-season win streak to 40 games, finishing 9-0. The Wildcats were also ranked among the NAIA Top 20 each year during his five-year stay.
Dunbar had two separate stints at Central Washington. He began his collegiate coaching career in Ellensburg, Wash. as the defensive coordinator for the Wildcats from 1980-82. He was then elevated to head coach in 1983. His overall record as a head coach at Central Washington and Northern Iowa is 83-24-1.
In between coaching stops at Central Washington, Dunbar spent three seasons at Massachusettes (1984-86). His first two years were spent as offensive coordinator before moving to linebackers coach in 1986.
Dunbar's pupils have included current NFL players Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Eric Decker (Denver) and Zach Strief (New Orleans), who played on Dunbar-coached offenses at Cal, Minnesota and Northwestern, respectively.
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