Rod Carey kept the momentum going for Northern Illinois football

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 30: Northern Illinois Huskies head coach Rod Carey holds the championship trophy aloft during the post-game trophy presentation following the Mid-American Conference championship game between the Northern Illinois Huskies and the Buffalo Bulls on November 29, 2018 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Northern Illinois defeated Buffalo 30-29. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

DEKALB – Some figured that a bigger program may someday come calling, as it did for a few of their coaches.

That phone for Rod Carey rang last week.

With Manny Diaz returning to Miami to take the head coaching position at Miami, Temple was in need of a new coach, and they looked towards DeKalb for a successful leader of their program.

This week, Carey was announced and introduced in Philadelphia as the new leader of the Owls’ football program.

As he heads to Temple, he leaves behind a successful legacy at Northern Illinois, and continues a strong run of Huskies’ football over the past two decades.

Starting with the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season in which he took over for Dave Doeren, who went to North Carolina State, Carey finished with 52 wins in six full seasons with the Huskies. That win total is second in school history behind Joe Novak’s 63 which he got from 1996-2007.

He took the team to five bowl games and was over .500 in all but one of his seasons with the Huskies. Four times the team won the Mid-American Conference West Division title and twice won the conference championship game in Detroit.

Carey’s first overall title came in 2014 with the last coming in his final season, when Northern Illinois rallied from a 19-point third quarter deficit to beat Buffalo 30-29 at Ford Field. Even with a loss in the Boca Raton Bowl, Carey’s .634 winning percentage is the highest of any coach in program history with more than two years on the job.

His efforts continue a strong stretch of football for the Huskies since the turn of the century, as the program has enjoyed 19 years of unprecedented success. Since the 2000 season, Northern Illinois has only had three seasons below .500, with 11 seasons featuring eight or more victories.

Twelve of those teams have gone to bowl games thanks to the added success and more opportunities for MAC schools to take part in the postseason. That includes a bid to the Orange Bowl after the 2012 season in which the Huskies finished 12-1, with their only regular season defeat coming to Big Ten opponent Iowa by a point at Soldier Field.

Carey kept that going for the next six years, adding to the resume of a MAC power, leaving the program in a good place for the next man to lead the Huskies’ program.