With the success Dave Doeren has had at Northern Illinois the past two years, everyone knew this was possible.
That doesn't make the timing any easier to take for the Huskies and their fans.
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The day after maybe the biggest win in school history, 44-37 over Kent State in double overtime in the Mid-American Conference championship game, Doeren said Saturday he was leaving DeKalb to become the head coach at North Carolina State.
The hiring was announced on N.C. State's Web site and in a statement by Doeren, who informed NIU officials of his decision Saturday.
Doeren will not be allowed to coach the Huskies in their bowl game.
NIU associate vice president and director of athletics Jeff Compher addressed the players after Doeren.
"What Dave has done here in two seasons has been unprecedented," Compher said. "His record on the field speaks for itself, and the family atmosphere and culture of hard work he has fostered have led directly to our success. Under Dave and his staff, Northern Illinois has gone from being a great team to being a great program."
Compher said the search to replace Doeren was already underway.
"We will move quickly, as we have in the past, to get the right person to lead this program going forward," Compher said. "We are confident there is a high level of interest in Northern Illinois as the incoming staff will take over one of the best programs in the country."
NIU will learn its 2012 bowl destination Sunday night.
Two years ago, NIU lost coach Jerry Kill to the University of Minnesota immediately after the MAC championship game and assistant coaches guided the Huskies to a bowl victory over Fresno State.
In his press release, Doeren said: "I am honored and excited to join the Wolfpack. NC State has world-class facilities and fans that are second to none. I want to thank Chancellor Woodson and (athletic director) Debbie Yow for this tremendous opportunity. My family and I can't wait to get to Raleigh and become Wolfpackers.
"While I look forward to our future at State, I want to acknowledge and thank the Northern Illinois players and fans for their support the last two years, especially President Peters and Jeff Compher.
There will be a press conference on Sunday at 4 p.m. at North Carolina State to introduce Doeren.
Doeren is a finalist for the 2012 National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award, sponsored by the Maxwell Football Club.
"Coach Dave Doeren is a highly motivated overachiever who shares our goals to pursue aggressively a high level of achievement in the classroom and on the field of competition," Yow said.
Doeren's two-year record at NIU was 23-4 and 17-1 against MAC opponents. His hiring comes just six days after Tom O'Brien was fired at N.C. State.
Doeren, who turns 41 on Monday, takes over at a school that hasn't won the Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1979.
Doeren came to Northern Illinois in December 2010 after five seasons as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator. He replaced Kill and led the Huskies to an 11-win season in 2011 that was capped by a MAC title and a win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
That was followed by an even bigger finish this year. He became one of the up-and-coming names for bigger jobs as he guided NIU to a school-record 12 wins and a top-20 national ranking.
Doeren helped develop two-way threat Jordan Lynch into a possible Heisman Trophy contender -- with nearly 3,000 yards passing and 1,771 yards rushing, he ranks third nationally in total offense.
The Huskies entered the weekend ranked 19th by the Associated Press, 18th in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 21 in the BCS standings.