Huskies hire former coach of year from Southern Illinois

Updated: December 13, 2007, 7:09 PM ET
Associated Press

DEKALB, Ill. -- Jerry Kill is the new football coach at Northern Illinois, less than a week after he had Southern Illinois in the FCS semifinals.

"I've chased a dream and the dream came true today," Kill said Thursday at a news conference at NIU's athletic training center. "I wanted to have the opportunity to coach Division I football and I wanted to make it a place where it would be a great fit and have a chance to be successful."

Kill replaces Joe Novak, who retired last month after 12 seasons as coach of the Huskies. Novak had seven straight winning seasons and two bowl appearances, turning Northern Illinois into one of the best programs in the Mid-American Conference. They slipped to 2-10 in an injury-filled 2007 season.

"Joe's made this a great job," Kill said. "I've got big shoes to fill. I will give every single thing I have, I will work endless hours and keep going with the legacy that Coach Novak has put here."

Kill was 56-32 in seven seasons at Southern Illinois, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly I-AA. The Salukis lost 20-17 to Delaware last Friday.

Novak assisted during a selection process that took more than two weeks, said NIU athletic director Jim Phillips.

"We cast a net as wide as possible -- 1,261 bios to be exact that we went through," Phillips said. "I know coach Novak's exhausted, I'm exhausted. The goal in the end was to find the right institutional fit and I know that we did."

Kill had a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney in 2005, but said his health is now excellent.

"I'm in complete remission and I feel fantastic," he said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press