After a combined 22 seasons as an assistant coach at Miami, Illinois (1977-79), Northern Illinois (1980-83) and Indiana (1984-95), Novak assumed the head coaching post at Northern Illinois in 1996 and spent 12 seasons guiding the Huskie program.
Novak inherited a struggling NIU program that he guided to four MAC West Division titles (2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005) and two bowl game appearances.
The Huskies won the Silicon Valley Bowl during the 2004 season and earned a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2006. He was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2002 and tabbed Region 3 Division I-A Coach of the Year by the AFCA in 2003.
Winning the first seven games of the 2003 season, which included two of the biggest wins in program history with upsets of Nov. 15 Maryland and No. 21 Alabama, NIU was ranked as high as 12 in the AP Poll and 14 in the Coaches Poll. Members of his final signing class went on to capture the 2011 MAC Championship. Novak finished his coaching career ranked among the league’s top 10 for career wins (63) and MAC wins (47).
Novak spent 40 years on the gridiron at the high school and collegiate levels. He returned to Miami as an assistant coach from 1974-76. During that time, Miami won two MAC titles, going undefeated in MAC play in 1974 and 1975, while winning the Tangerine Bowl both of those seasons.
Prior to his time at Miami, Novak began his prep coaching career as an assistant at Warren Western Reserve High School in 1968. Elevated to head coach five years later, Novak led Western Reserve to a 12-0 record and Ohio’s large school division state title to earn 1972 Coach of the Year honors. He took Western Reserve back to the state finals a year later with an 11-1 record before joining the collegiate ranks.
A stand-out defensive end who spearheaded Miami to MAC Co-Championships in 1965 and 1966, Novak was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007-08.
The Cradle of Coaches Association was established in 1971 to acknowledge the role Miamians have played in establishing Miami University as the Cradle of Coaches. While all Miami Alumni who go on to coach or those who have coached at Miami are considered part of the Cradle of Coaches, the Cradle of Coaches Association began inducting individuals into the Association in 1992 to further recognize their accomplishments.
Novak will be inducted in the same class as Randy Ayers, Thad Matta, Sandy Pearsall and Sue Ramsey on Saturday, Sept. 22, joining such coaching legends as Weeb Eubank, Paul Brown, Ara Parseghian, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler and other esteemed Cradle of Coaches Association members such as Bill Mallory, who led NIU to its first MAC football championship in 1983 with Novak as his defensive coordinator.