It seemed like just another team meeting in the McCareins Room at the Yordon Center Saturday, August 16. Take a look at behind the scenes footage of the Huskies unveiling of their new uniforms on August 16, pranking the team before revealing them.
NIU rallied for a 30-27 victory over Iowa Saturday.
Veteran defensive coordinator Jay Niemann returns for his fifth season running the Northern Illinois University defense and coaching the safeties.
During Niemann’s time at NIU, the Huskies have won the MAC West title each season and claimed three Mid-American Conference championships while boasting one of the best defenses in the league.
The 2014 season saw the Huskie defensive unit force 24 turnovers and hold six opponents to 17 points or less. Six NIU defensive players earned All-MAC honors last season under Niemann’s guidance, including first-team selections Jason Meehan and Paris Logan.
Niemann’s top defensive pupil at NIU, safety Jimmie Ward, wrapped up a stellar collegiate career in 2013 and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The 30th overall pick, Ward led the Huskies in tackles in each of his final two years, recording 95 tackles and a career-high seven interceptions in 2013 and 104 stops with three interceptions in 2012.
In 2012, the NIU defense held five opponents to nine points or less en route to a second straight MAC title and a historic berth in the 2013 Orange Bowl. The Huskie defensive unit totaled 40 sacks in 2012, second all-time at NIU.
In all, Niemann’s defense has produced seven players who signed with NFL teams in the last four years. In addition to Ward, Rashaan Melvin, Alan Baxter, Sean Progar, Ken Bishop, Joe Windsor and Pat Schiller have signed with NFL teams since 2011. Ward, Melvin and Bishop - another 2014 draftee - saw action with the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, respectively, in 2014.
In his first season in DeKalb, Niemann oversaw the development of a young defense. By week six, the Huskies turned in their best defensive game of the season statistically and in the 2011 MAC Championship game, the NIU defense shut out Ohio in the second half en route to a 23-20 victory, the school’s first MAC football title in 28 years.
Niemann came to NIU after spending three seasons as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas. During his tenure with the Cowboys, Niemann helped turn a defense that ranked last in the nation prior to his arrival into the No. 2 unit in the American Southwest Conference in 2009. He coached free safety Matt Warnish to All-American honors in 2008 and saw three of his defensive backs earn all-conference accolades from 2009-10.
A native of Avoca, Iowa, Niemann spent much of his 26-year coaching career in his home state, with stops at Simpson (Iowa) College, the University of Northern Iowa and Drake University. Niemann compiled a 32-29 record in his six seasons as head coach at Simpson (2002-07). He led the Storm to the 2003 NCAA playoffs while also serving as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Niemann coached the secondary (1997, 2001), linebackers (1998-99) and filled the role of defensive coordinator (1999-2000) during his five seasons at Northern Iowa (1997-2001). The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the 2001 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (then Division I-AA) playoffs. One of Niemann’s UNI pupils, cornerback Ty Talton, went on to play in the NFL.
Prior to his arrival at UNI, Niemann spent eight seasons at Drake. After serving as the defensive backs coach from 1989-94, he was promoted to defensive coordinator/assistant head coach in 1995. In his final three seasons, the Bulldog defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense.
Niemann began his coaching career in 1985 at Western Washington where he coached the linebackers and special teams units while pursuing his master’s degree. He accepted the graduate assistant position at the University of Washington, working with the Husky linebackers and defensive backs from 1986-88, coaching under UW legends Don James and Jim Lambright.
A graduate of Iowa State, Niemann played football for the Cyclones from 1979-82. He earned his master’s degree from Western Washington in 1988. Niemann and his wife, Lou Ann, have two sons, Ben and Nick.