Somewhat lost in the hoopla of Northern Illinois getting its first bid to a BCS Bowl on Sunday was the fact the Huskies named a new head coach.
Offensive coordinator Rod Carey was promoted to replace Dave Doeren, who left on Saturday to become head coach at North Carolina State.
Carey will make his coaching debut New Year's Day under the glare of the spotlights in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.
"Every opportunity Rod has had to step up and make a difference in our program, he has done it," said NIU athletic director Jeff Compher. "Whether developing a young, untested offensive line or stepping in as the offensive coordinator and playcaller in the second game of the season, he has responded with poise and professionalism.
"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."
Carey, who has long roots in the Midwest, agreed to a five-year contract.
"I don't have any reason today to sit here and say that I want to go somewhere else," Carey said. "Listen, I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and I went to high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Former NIU head coach) Joe Novak was the defensive coordinator at Indiana when I played there, so my ties and my knowing about NIU have gone back a long time. And I have wanted to be at this place for a lot of different times in my career. And I finally got here and now this has happened. I don't know why I would want to go anywhere else."
It's likely that a few from Carey's staff will leave to join Doeren at N.C. State following the Orange Bowl.
"I don't know how it will all play out," Carey said. "It's the finest staff I've worked with so I would love to coach with all of these guys for a long time."
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 Mid-American Conference championships.
"When you have a program like this, it's not about what you can change; it's about what you can keep," Carey said. "We've got great players and we want to keep this ball rolling."
The 2012 season presented Carey with a huge challenge of rebuilding the offensive line. Faced with replacing five starters this season, Carey then 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 Huskies' offense, quarterback Jordan Lynch has gained an FBS best 4,733 yards of offense and 1,771 yards rushing, also an FBS best.
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 Bill Mallory, a former Northern Illinois head coach.
"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," Mallory said. "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."
Free ticket for students:
NIU is offering one free Orange Bowl ticket per student for the Jan. 1 game in Miami. Students can reserve their free ticket at the NIU Convocation Center ticket office but must pick it up at Will Call in Miami the day of the game. Proper identification will be required.