Rod Carey, who has spent the last two seasons on the coaching staff of the most successful teams ever at Northern Illinois University, was introduced to the team Sunday afternoon as the 22nd head football coach in school history.
NIU Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher announced the promotion of the 42-year old Carey, who served as NIU’s offensive coordinator during the 2012 season.
“Every opportunity Rod has had to step up and make a difference in our program, he has done it,” Compher said. “Whether developing a young, untested offensive line or stepping in as the offensive coordinator and play-caller in the second game of the season, he has responded with poise and professionalism. I’m confident he will do that again as our head coach. I’m very happy for him, his wife, Tonya and their entire family.
“What we need in our program is consistency and stability, and I believe that Rod brings that. This will allow us to stay on our current trajectory as a nationally-prominent program.”
Northern Illinois University President John Peters gave his endorsement of Carey’s hiring.
“I have full confidence that this is the right choice to keep this program moving forward and take it to the next level,” said Dr. Peters. “I believe we are in very good hands with Rod Carey.”
Carey has spent the last two seasons at Northern Illinois helping guide two of the most prolific offenses in school history as the Huskies won back-to-back MAC championships.
“Obviously I am really excited about the opportunity, and thankful to [NIU President] Dr. [John] Peters, [NIU Director of Athletics] Jeff Compher and [former NIU head coach] Dave Doeren,” Carey said.
“I want to thank Coach Doeren for everything I learned from him, and to Dr. Peters and Jeff for all the faith they are showing in me to lead this program going forward. My family and I are very excited about NIU and what is going on with the university, the athletic department and the football program.
“When you have a program like this, it’s not about what you can change; it’s about what you can keep. We’ve got great players and we want to keep this ball rolling.”
The 2012 season presented Carey, who added run game coordinator to his duties as offensive line coach at the beginning of the season, with one of the biggest challenges of his coaching career. Already faced with replacing five starters on the offensive line prior to the season, Carey assumed offensive coordinator duties after the first game of the year when Mike Dunbar left the team for health reasons.
Under Carey’s leadership, the seven-man rotation at offensive line has helped power a rushing attack that ranks ninth in the nation. Sophomore Tyler Loos earned All-MAC Second Team honors for an offensive front that does not feature a senior.
With Carey guiding the Huskie offense, Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch has gained an FBS best 4,733 yards of offense and 1,771 yards rushing, also an FBS best.
A graduate of Indiana University, Carey led a veteran offensive line unit in his first season at NIU. The Huskies’ five returning starters helped clear the way for a record-setting year by the NIU offense in 2011 and the Huskies’ first Mid-American Conference Championship in 28 years. The Huskie front five allowed just 12 sacks on the season a year ago.
Carey mentored two All-Americans and three all-conference selections in 2011. Center Scott Wedige and left tackle Trevor Olson were named All-Americans by CBSSports.com and Phil Steele’s magazine, respectively.
A three-year starter at center for Indiana during his collegiate playing days, Carey served as a team captain and won IU’s Corby Davis Outstanding Offensive Player Award as a senior, playing for former Northern Illinois head coach Bill Mallory. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Indiana in 1994.
“Rod played for me and I had the greatest respect for him,” Mallory said. “He had everything you want to see in a person and in a coach. When he decided he wanted to go into coaching I told him he would be a perfect fit.
“He is a quality person, a great character individual, a good people person and a caring individual, the qualities you like to see in a person and in a coach. He is very focused, he is a competitor, he knows his football and has an excellent coaching background. He understands Northern and I think he will do an excellent job.”
Carey joined the Huskies after three seasons coaching the offensive line at the University of North Dakota. His line paved the way for UND 1,000-yard rusher Josh Murray (1,146 yards) in 2008 and for the No. 2 running back in the Great West Conference a year later. The Fighting Sioux also passed for 2,000 yards in 2009. Five of Carey’s offensive linemen earned GWC all-conference honors in his last three seasons and one – Mitch Braegelmann – was a two-time first-team Academic All-American.
Prior to going to North Dakota, Carey spent the 2007 season as the offensive line coach at Illinois State. His Redbird offensive line featured three players that received professional football opportunities in Brandon Joyce (St. Louis Rams, 2010), Jonathan St. Pierre (Toronto Argonauts, 2010) and Isaiah Wiggins (Baltimore Ravens, 2008).
From 2000-06, Carey served on the coaching staff at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. His offensive units averaged nearly 400 yards per game during his seven seasons and set 14 records, including the all-time conference rushing record. He coached Blue Devils’ offensive lineman Ben Knepper, one of the most decorated players ever at UW-Stout, to multiple All-American and all-conference honors. In all, Carey coached 26 all-conference selections and seven All-Americans during his time at UW-Stout.
A native of Wayzata, Minn., Carey began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Minnesota (1998-99) where he helped the Gophers to their first bowl game in over a decade with a trip to the 1999 Sun Bowl.
Prior to UM, he spent four seasons in the high school ranks at his alma mater, Wayzata (Minn.) High School, from 1994-97.
Carey and his wife, Tonya, have two children, daughter, Kennedi, 8, and son Charlie, 5.