Northern Illinois Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, who led the week-long head coaching search, made the introduction of the 39-year-old Doeren, who currently serves as defensive coordinator at the University of Wisconsin.
Doeren is completing his fifth season at Wisconsin in 2010. In January of 2008, he added defensive coordinator duties to his assignment as linebackers coach after spending his first two seasons in Madison as the Badgers’ co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. The Shawnee Mission, Kansas native has also served on successful coaching staffs at Kansas (2002-05), Montana (2000-01), USC (1998-99) and Drake (1995-97), his alma mater. He began his coaching career at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee, Kansas.
“I am thrilled to introduce Dave Doeren as the new head football coach at Northern Illinois University,” Compher said. “Dave has deep Midwest ties. He played and coached at Drake and has been at Kansas and Wisconsin. He knows Midwest recruiting and believes there is a wealth of talent in this area. His teams will bring a physical style of play that the Huskies have been known for.
“We often talk about being able to ride the bus, he’s not just riding the bus, he has driven the bus. I like the way he has moved up the coaching ranks from high school to Drake and Montana, to USC, Kansas and Wisconsin. He is an experienced coach with a wealth of knowledge who can improve on who we are and lead us on that next step to a championship. We welcome Dave, his wife Sara and their boys to the Huskie family.”
Northern Illinois University President John Peters provided his endorsement.
“We are very pleased to attract a coach of Dave’s caliber from one of best programs in America,” Peters said. “I feel confident the Huskie football program is in good hands and will build on the successes we have enjoyed this century.”
Doeren thanked Compher and Peters for the opportunity and said he is ready to help the Huskies reach the next level.
“I am extremely proud to be a part of the Huskie family,” Doeren said. “To have the opportunity to work at a program that Coach Novak and Coach Kill have built, and continue building toward excellence, is a dream come true. This is something that I‘ve thought about for the last 16 years, I can’t wait to get started. I look forward to making the former players, alumni and NIU community proud of the product they see on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”
During Doeren’s time at Wisconsin, the Badgers have posted a 49-15 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl and Capital One Bowl. This year’s 11-1 UW team will take on TCU in the 2011 Rose Bowl; the 2009 team won 10 games for just the sixth time in school history.
His UW defenses have consistently been ranked in the national top 25 in NCAA defensive categories. The 2010 Wisconsin defense ranks 22nd in the country in total defense and is in the Top 30 in both rushing and scoring defense. A year ago, Wisconsin led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in the country in rushing defense, allowing just 88.2 yards per game to record the second-best rush defense in school history. The Badgers held each of their last 10 opponents in 2009 to less than 100 yards rushing, the longest streak in school history. Wisconsin led the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2006 and was the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.
His pupils at Wisconsin have included current National Football League linebackers Jonathan Casillas of the New Orleans Saints and DeAndre Levy, the Detroit Lions’ middle linebacker. Badgers’ linebacker Chris Borland was named the 2009 Big Ten Conference Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Doeren arrived at Wisconsin after four seasons at the University of Kansas from 2002-05. He was the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator for his first three seasons before being promoted to co-defensive coordinator in the summer of 2005. The Jayhawks led the Big 12 Conference and ranked No. 3 nationally in rushing defense that year and were 11th nationally in total defense. KU linebacker Nick Reid was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Prior to his time in his home state, Doeren coached the secondary at NCAA Division I-AA power Montana for two seasons and was the Grizzlies’ recruiting coordinator for one year. Montana won the I-AA national championship in 2001 and went 28-3 with two conference titles in Doeren’s two seasons there.
Doeren’s bowl experience goes back to his days as a graduate assistant at Southern California (USC) when the Trojans played in the 1998 Sun Bowl. The Trojans led the nation in interceptions that year with 24, while the 1999 squad led the nation in turnover margin.
He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Drake from 1995-97 where he coached linebackers, adding defensive coordinator chores in 1997. A four-year letterwinner at Drake (1990-93), Doeren earned Academic All-America honors as a senior and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-medical biology and a master’s in educational leadership.
The Huskies’ new head man, who coached against Northern Illinois in games at Wisconsin in both 2007 and 2009, said he was looking forward to learning more about the team, the university and the community in the coming weeks while continuing his duties at Wisconsin through the Badgers’ bowl game.
He and his wife, Sara, have three sons, Jacob, Luke and Connor.
“Sara and I look forward to becoming active members of the community and getting to know our fellow Huskies,” Doeren said. “The next plan of action is to get a great recruiting class and the best staff that we can as soon as possible.”
Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 13, 2010
Introduction of New NIU Head Football Coach Dave Doeren
Jeff Compher, Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics
“Ten days ago, we lost a heartbreaker in the MAC Championship game. Eight days ago, we found out that our head coach was leaving to take a Big Ten job at Minnesota. Eight days ago, we also began the process of trying to find our next head coach at NIU. The process has been swift, thorough, time consuming, invigorating and very rewarding. I actually had to introduce myself to my wife on Saturday, because she hadn’t seen much of me. I’ll be back home sometime soon. I want to say that President John Peters, who could not be with us today because of a previous commitment, has been an all-star throughout this process for me. He’s been with me every step of the way, and his steady hand has been invaluable as we moved throughout the search process. We had tremendous interest in this position because of the hard work and dedication of student-athletes and coaches who have built this program. I want to thank our former head coach Jerry Kill for coming to NIU and for developing our program to a level that will go out and beat Big Ten teams and allowed us to compete for a conference championship this year. I also want to thank the former staff, especially Tom Matukewicz and the other coaches who are coaching our team through the Humanitarian Bowl this week. We leave tomorrow and I am very impressed with the job they have done in preparing our young men to battle Fresno this Saturday.
“I had some ideas as to what we needed in our next head coach, and I wrote them down early in this process and I thought I’d share them with you. I thought we needed experience, credibility, a desire to be here at NIU, a willingness to ride the bus and by that I mean an understanding of who we are and what the MAC is, a tireless recruiter, enthusiasm, someone who can bring it and will embrace fundraising. Finally, continuity in our philosophy, the face from which we have had our program which was really built up by Coach [Joe] Novak and carried on through Coach Kill, and that was making sure that we emphasized character and academics in our football program.
“Then I asked some of the members of the football leadership council what they were looking for in a coach. They said, someone with Midwest ties, someone who understands a day like yesterday[blizzard-like weather], someone with lots of energy, someone who would take a personal interest in each and every one of them, someone who looks to build character and encourages success off the field and must care about academics, treat people fairly, but not all the same, someone who is dedicated to hard to work and being here at NIU, must exhibit a willingness to be external and help promote our team across the campus in this great community, and someone who understands how important the strength and conditioning coach is, as well as our football operations person is, to the well-being of a team. It’s a tall order for anyone who would love to, but I can tell you that we found the right coach who could fulfill those qualities. He uses terms like, ‘we will impose our will,’ ‘we will play a physical brand of football,’ and ‘we will build a great staff.’ Those kinds of things bring truth to me and the future of our program.
“I know he wanted the job, because yesterday he spent two hours digging himself out of his driveway. He didn’t give up, and actually, had a snowplow come in and finish the job. Then he drove two hours through blizzard to get here. Tried to see the town, tried to get a feel for what NIU is all about. I also know he knows what it means to ride the bus, because early in his career, not only did he ride the bus, you’ll find out that he actually drove the bus. He’s been there. He knows what it means. He knows what it’s like to be a part of a program at this level. He’s coached at the high school level, the FCS level, the BCS level. He was an Academic All-American and truly understands the value of an education. He was born in Kansas and has spent most of life in the Midwest. His 16-year career has had stops at Drake, USC, Montana, where they played for a national championship and won one while he was there, and played for another. He was at Kansas, where their staff totally turned their team around and had their defense rise to one of the best in the country, and now recently, he has been with Wisconsin for the last five years. He’s been a recruiting coordinator, has had several stops where he has been defensive coordinator and now he’s defensive coordinator for the Badgers. He’ll take them and that great defensive team to the Rose Bowl in a couple weeks. He’s excited about helping in our university’s fundraising and our efforts to partner with us and the rest of the university in building our much-needed indoor practice facility.
“However, he is first and foremost, a family man. His wife Sara and their three boys, Jacob, Luke and Connor are with us, and I know they’re looking forward to getting to know this university and our outstanding community here in DeKalb and Sycamore. I also found out from his current coach, Bret Bielema, that he’s a bit of Renaissance man. He taught himself how to play the guitar one summer, and I understand he’s quite good. Maybe he can show us his talents some time. Earlier this morning he met with the team, because I told the team that they would learn who their new coach would be before the public would know. They appreciated that. He’s coached against us, now he’s going to coach for us, and against a team that once challenged us.”
Dave Doeren, Head Coach
“Thank you Jeff. I would like to say thank you to Dr. Peters, who is not here, but had a great meeting with him last night. First of all, thanks for this opportunity. You’re getting somebody who is very, very proud to be here. It means a lot to me that Jeff and his wife spent time with me last night. Yesterday was an emotional day. I’ve been through a lot to get to this place. I had to dig the car out of the driveway, it was crazy to get here yesterday, but the kids hung in there and I’m very, very proud to be standing here in front of this group.
“I had the opportunity this morning to meet the team. The first thing I told them was that they should be very proud of what they have accomplished. I played against this team a few years ago when they weren’t so strong. I’ve seen this team as I’ve been a part of college football. I know Coach Novak, I know Coach Kill, I know what they stand for. I’m very proud to be standing here and build on what they’ve already created, and I told the players that. I’m not walking into a rebuilding job. I’m very fortunate to be walking into a place that has the pride and success and the facilities and the expectations and the academic integrity that this university has. I’ve been a part of rebuilding jobs, so I know. There’s only 120 Division I coaches. I’m very, very lucky to be at a place like this. You’re going to find that I’m going to grind. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to take great pride in backing this university and putting a product on the field that every can be proud of. We talked with the players today about embracing the tradition we have here, creating new ones, working hard, going to this bowl game and representing you, whoever has played here in the past, and every representative fan, booster, and then coming back ready to work. When this season is over, it’s over, and when my season is over, it’s over, and it’s time to create a new one. I’m very excited for that opportunity.
“I would also like to thank Christian [Spears] for what he has done in this process. I did get a chance to talk with Coach Novak and Coach Kill and I greatly appreciated what those guys had to say. They love this place and that made me feel good. I know I’m a part of family now, not that I haven’t been at other places, but I stand here in front of this podium, in front of you guys and in front of my family, awesome, awesome feeling. There are no shortcuts and that’s what I’m going to tell the guys. To get where I’ve come …I’m not going to bore you with the journey that I’ve taken, but there is no step that I’ve missed. I understand what it’s like to not have things. I understand what it’s like to be on both sides of the coin. I’m going to be very appreciative of what’s given. I promise you that I’m going to fight for everything that we don’t have. Our players will play with urgency. They will take great accountability for what they do for the emblem on their helmet and the name on the back.”
On why he has chosen to remain with Wisconsin through the Rose Bowl
“There are a couple parts to it. One, I felt like I was a part of a five-year process there to get them to that point and I want to finish that journey. I also feel that it’s great publicity for this university and for our recruiting efforts to have a Rose Bowl coach on national television. There’s going to be Kirk Herbstreit and their crew doing the game and for them to continue talking about Dave Doeren, the next head football coach at Northern Illinois on January 1, I felt was a positive for this university so those were the main two reasons.”
On his brand of football
“I believe in a physical brand of football. We’ve talked about it other places that I’ve worked. It’s a 60-minute game that’s played in short intervals. It’s not about looking pretty. It’s about playing physical and playing within the rules. At Wisconsin, we took great pride in that. We’re the lowest penalized team in the nation, but I think people that watch football know that we’re not committing penalties because we’re not physical. We truly put pride in taking our opponents down and getting them to the fourth quarter and watching them quit. That is what I want to do, and I believe that brand of football stands strong here and has been established. Regardless of the scheme, it’s a mentality that starts with me and every assistant coach that I bring here, and in the weight room, and every kid that I recruit.”
On his knowledge of Coach Matukewicz and assembling his staff
“I did know Coach Tuke, not to a great extent, but knew him from recruiting in Florida. I’ve seen him on the road a few times. He’s also a Kansas man, so I’ve heard of him through the profession. We briefly talked upstairs today before I met with the team, but haven’t had a great deal of time to sit down with him, he’s pretty busy too. I do plan on sitting down with him and any other member of the staff that would like to entertain staying, not that that’s going to happen, but I do want to talk to every one of those guys about that. As far as building a staff, that’s something that I’ve been doing over the course of the last seven days once I got the phone call that they were interested, and I knew that would be important. I’m not going to announce any of those names quite yet, but that is of the utmost importance. I’m talking to guys that were on Coach Novak’s staff, guys who have played here. I want guys that understand the culture at NIU and that are very proud of working here.”
On the head coaches he’s worked with in the past
“Having Bret [Bielema] and Coach [Barry] Alvarez at Wisconsin has been great. Obviously, Coach Alvarez built Wisconsin into something that many programs dream to have. Bret became a first-year head coach under him so I’ve watched Bret grow basically from the position I’m standing here in to what he is today. I’ve had both sides. I was with Coach Mark Mangino at Kansas and he worked for Jim Tressel, worked for Bob Stoops, worked for Coach [Bill] Snyder. In four years we built the program at Kansas that had success. Learned many great lessons through him and his travels. I was with Joe Glenn at Montana who’s won three national championships.
“Each one of these guys that I’m talking to you about does things completely different from the other. I don’t think there’s any one way to say that I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this the way I’ve done everything in my life, I’m going to work. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to take pride in finding an edge and using that to our advantage. I’m going to be creative. I’m going to learn through doing. I know there’s going to be learning experiences as we go through this like there are for everyone in this room professionally. I promise you one thing, if I make a mistake, I’m going to learn from it and it won’t happen again. That’s the only thing that I can ask from my players. I’m very excited about the journey, but I’m a student of the game. I study other coaches, I study other head coaches, I study press conferences, I study everything that I can. You’re going to get someone who takes great pride in what they do.”
On what he sees his role being
“I’d say I’ll be the CEO part of it. I don’t want to be a guy who runs the defense or coaches the offense. I do want to be involved with our players’ lives. I see myself more as the motivator and cultivator of what we’re going to be doing here, teaching these guys how I want them to act, how I want them to live, what I want them stand for. The Xs and Os is going to have my brand on it, trust me, but I’m not going to be in there calling the plays on game day.”
On the process of assembling his staff
“That is the plan that we would like to see happen because of the traveling situation that NIU is undertaking here tomorrow and then me going to the Rose Bowl and coming back, a lot of this is going to be dependent on how we can do those things. There is going to be a lot of back and forth. The sooner I can get everyone here, the sooner I will. I will say this though, I’m not going to rush the process. I do believe that hiring nine guys as fast as I can is not the smartest thing to do. I do know a lot of coaches in this business. There are a lot of great ones, that doesn’t mean that they’re the right guys for this job. I’m going to take my time. There are a few guys that I have offered positions to I’m going to go out and talk with their families and we’ll see where that goes, but we’re going to have some guys here who want to be here that represent what I represent, and I’m going to take my time doing that. That’s something that I watched with Bret. Bret, a lot like me has a lot of friends in this business, but he interviewed guys for every spot to make sure that they were the right fit and I think that’s important here.”
On the timing of the hiring working to his advantage
“The one thing that is helping me is that this team is leaving to go play in a game. They’re done with school. They’re traveling. There’s not a whole lot here I can do right now, and most of the administration is going along. The window actually works out pretty good. Cell phones make everyone pretty mobile. I’m going to be able to recruit from wherever I am. Of the utmost importance right now is for this football team to go win, to play their best football and springboard us into what I hope is a great off-season, and for me to go to the Rose Bowl with my family and Wisconsin and try to help them win a game, and then move forward from there. The dead period is about to start here in recruiting. The travel is going to be cutoff for me.”
On how he expects his team to play
“Offensively, it’s going to build off of what we do here already. It’s going to be balanced. I do believe in using the personnel that you have. Everyone turns on the TV and says I wish our offense could do that, and those aren’t the players that we have. We’re going to use what we have, there’s a lot of good talent here. We’re going to be physical. We’re going to be balanced. We’re going to incorporate a lot of different shifts and motions. We’re going to make defenses defend the whole field and make them have a very tough week of preparation getting ready for our offense. I do believe in that as a defensive coach. We’re going to make guys exercise every rule when they’re preparing for us.
“Defensively, we’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to be smart. We’re going to be tough. I don’t believe that blitzing every snap is the way to win a game. We need to be sound and play with great technique, playing hard and understanding how to leverage the football and how to tackle, how to create takeaways and get our offense the football as fast and in as good a place on the field as we can. I think on both sides you’re going to find that’s going to play aggressive, and that’s something I promise that they’re going to get from me.”
“I’m going to be on the phone. I’ve already been given the list of recruits that are committed here, and we’re going to honor those commitments. I’m going to rely a little bit on some of the guys that I’m talking to that I think we’re going to get on this staff. I’m going to rely on Coach Kill’s staff. There’s a lot of players that came to Wisconsin’s camp last year who didn’t get offered and are out there being looked at by MAC schools right now, so those are the guys that I’m going to be looking at. I’m going to take my time with it as well. I think it’s very important to understand, it doesn’t matter how many stars a recruiting service puts on a player. That is not the sign of a good player. J.J. Watt won the Lott Award last night on national television in California. Ronnie Lott has a national award. He [Watt] was our defensive end at Wisconsin and he won the award last night.
“J.J. was a tight end that we didn’t recruit at Wisconsin that went to Central Michigan as a tight end. He didn’t like it, transferred back to Wisconsin and walked on and now is the number one defensive end in the nation. I think there are a lot of stories like that, some of your best players are not necessarily your highest recruited guys, it’s about how to go out and find the right fit. We talked about the running back [Chad] Spann. Spann was a walk-on, was the last guy taken in that class and he’s one of the best players on your team right now. Understand it’s not how fast you get the commitments, it’s that we get the right ones. I will not take guys, just to take a guy to fill a class. If we need to hold five scholarships so that we have a year to research into the class for next year, we’ll do that. We’re going to make sure that we have the right guys for the program.”
On playing at Soldier Field
“I think it means a lot in a lot of ways. Obviously, I assume the Bears are big around here. I know with over 50 players on our roster from Illinois, there’s probably quite a few Bears fans. For those kids to be in the same locker room as Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher is a pretty neat deal to them. I know in recruiting obviously it’s a big deal to say that we’re playing in Soldier Field, and obviously, playing against a team that I have a great respect and passion for, that’s going to be special to me. Coach Bielema and I last night laughed about that. We can’t believe we’re playing each other in the third game. It’s going to be a great game.”
Quotes from NIU Players
Chandler Harnish, RS-Jr. Quarterback
On first impressions of coach Doeren…
“Coach Doeren seems like a great guy, a lot of energy and very passionate about the game. He’s bringing the same type of mentality that we’ve had here: tough, hard-nosed football.”
On the team being the first to know…
“It means everything. The last things we want to do is read on the blogs or on a website that NIU hired a new coach. They called us in really early, and I think that shows the amount of respect the administration has for the players and vice-versa. We’re very, very happy about that.”
On schematic continuity…
“I haven’t really gotten to sit down and talk with him specifically about anything. He’s coming into a good situation. We have a lot of good guys returning and we do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. The least amount that we change is probably for the better, but it’s his team and his mentality. I’m sure he’s got a great plan and that our guys will conform to it.”
Tommy Davis, RS-So., Defensive Back
On knowing who the head coach will be…
“It’s nice to have some clarity, with so many uncertainties going on after (former head coach Jerry) Kill left, it can be rough. I think we’ve handled it well, but it is nice to have some clarity.”
About the future of the program…
“I’m definitely excited about the future. The program is on the rise. We’ve got a great group of guys, a great team, really a family… Sometimes change can be exciting and I think this is an exciting change.”
Trevor Olson, RS-Jr., Offensive Tackle
On initial impressions of coach Doeren…
“He seems like a very nice guy. He comes from Wisconsin, so that’s nice that they play the same style of football. That won’t be too much of a change. He seems like a very intense guy like (former head) coach (Jerry) Kill was.”
On physical brand of football Doeren brings from Wisconsin…
“I like it as an offensive lineman. It gives us a chance to get our hand on the ground, get our pads down and just knock some people around. It’s hard-nosed, tough, working kids that are going to play every play as hard as they can.”
Jason Schepler, Jr., Tight End
On Doeren’s message to the team…
“I like the message he brought today that he has had to work for everything he’s had. Everyone on the team, that’s been here, that is here, has had to work to get to where they are at now.”
On what kind of program NIU will be under Doeren…
“We talked about not taking short cuts. We do everything the hard way. He talked about being a team that out-physicals opponents, and I think we are going to continue to be a team like that.”
“Firstly, we’re going to be a physical team, and secondly we are going to do things the right way. We are not going to take any shortcuts. (Coach Doeren) talks about playing the game the right way, hustling around and playing physical.”