Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published December 03 2012
Former UND assistant Carey takes helm at NIUGRAND FORKS - UND football coach Chris Mussman and former North Dakota offensive line coach Rod Carey traded text messages this weekend after rumors started that Carey might be promoted to head coach at Northern Illinois.
The two were able to finally talk about it as reality Monday morning after Carey was named head coach of the Huskies, who will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.
“I’m happy for him,” said Mussman, whose team lost to Northern Illinois 23-17 in 2010. “That’s a heck of a deal.”
Carey will be head coach in the Orange Bowl as he replaces Dave Doeren, who has been hired at North Carolina State.
Carey, a Wayzata, Minn., native, has had a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks in just a three seasons.
He joined the Huskies after three seasons as the offensive line coach at UND (2008-10).
Carey spent two years on the Northern Illinois staff and moved up from line coach to coordinator after the first game this year when Mike Dunbar left the team for health reasons.
Carey, a former offensive lineman at Indiana, doesn’t plan major changes to the program.
“When you have a program like this, it’s not about what you can change; it’s about what you can keep,” Carey said in a statement. “We’ve got great players and we want to keep this ball rolling.”
Carey came to UND through Mussman’s connection with former South Dakota head coach Ed Meierkort, who recommended Carey after the two worked together at NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Stout.
“He knocked that interview out of the park as far as X’s and O’s,” Mussman said. “He was very knowledgeable.”
Doeren, who was hired at North Carolina State on Saturday, led NIU (12-1) to Mid-American Conference championships in each of his two seasons.
The Huskies were 23-4 with a 17-1 record in conference play under him. Now, they’re turning to Carey, who will make his debut against ACC champion Florida State in the first BCS appearance by the school and a MAC team.
Northern Illinois boasts a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior Jordan Lynch, who has a single-season record for yards rushing by a major college quarterback with 1,771 and leads the nation with 4,733 yards of total offense.
“Every opportunity Rod has had to step up and make a difference in our program, he has done it,” athletic director Jeff Compher said in a statement. “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.”