New NIU coach Rod Carey front-and-center before Orange Bowl

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New NIU coach Rod Carey front-and-center before Orange Bowl

A day before the 2013 Orange Bowl, Northern Illinois' Rod Carey, a man who had never been on center stage before, took to it.

Carey was named the Huskies head coach 30 days ago, and he admitted this past week that everything has been going at "Mach 10" since that point.

Now, a day before the game, Carey said that he has come to grips with the speed.

Such was apparent Monday, as the personality and comfortability that Carey had only exuded in close groups was on display for the world to see.

But despite the calmer demeanor in the spotlight, Carey didn't follow the script read by seemingly all other BCS coaches. The gist: say a lot without saying a lot.

No, that wouldn't be Rod Carey he's a bit more literal, and playful, than that.

When asked if he was aware of the magnitude of his first game, Carey's response was simple:

"Sure."

When asked about if he's going to move the Huskies to a new hotel the night before the game:

"Yep."

Is it necessary?

"Yep."

Was it decided before he came to Miami?

"Yep."

World, meet Rod Carey. Oh, and never mind the TV cameras, Rod, they're just here to hear you talk.

You'll have to excuse Carey if he isn't yet versed in coach speak, but don't mistake his inexperience for ignorance or naivety. He just doesn't doesn't much care for the ruckus that comes with the BCS.

"I'm happy to do it for NIU and for our football program," Carey said. "But other than that...Listen, I'm more comfortable with a whistle around my neck and coaching than I am with a mic in front of me in a suit, I can tell you that. My wife likes it when I dress up in a suit. I hate it."

No, Carey much prefers his sweat-stained and sun-bleached NIU hat, the same one he wore when he was the offensive line coach.

Carey's steadfastness which can come across as stubbornness to some has allowed him to manage the rapid changes of his career and keep track of the players and responsibilities that have come with them. Two seasons ago, Carey was the offensive line coach for a three-win North Dakota team. Until Dec. 3, you couldn't find him on Wikipedia.

Now Carey is the head of a football program that is one win away from becoming next-level.

Given the pressures and temptations the trip has provided, Carey said Monday that he has been impressed with the restraint his players have displayed in a situation that is less-than-ideal for a first-time head coach.

"You know, you come down to South Beach with a bunch of 18 to 22 year olds, we were all 18 to 22 at one point, can remember what that was like," Carey said. "We haven't had one single incident with bad decision making. I give them all the credit for that. Yeah, we helped them, but you know, kids can always find a way if they really want to. These guys did, and I'm proud of them."

Carey's players have in turn, have been impressed in Carey, who has prepared for his first game as a head coach not as if it's the most important game in NIU and MAC history, but as if it was just another game at North Dakota.

"We don't look at the big picture a whole lot, football is about the little things and about the details," Carey said. "That's what we've been focusing on. But when you talk about those two things, we're excited for NIU and excited for the MAC."

What Carey does want to focus on is the game plan it's nice to have the pen last, he said Monday and getting the details ingrained in his players before they take the field Tuesday night.

But in the end, Carey said, it's just one game.

"Isn't that good that way?" Carey said. "Can't screw it up too much, right?"

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

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AP

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

DePaul hoops received a huge boost this week as five-star recruit Tyger Campbell committed to the university.

The elite point guard recruit out of La Lumiere, will join the Class of 2018, choosing DePaul over schools like Michigan State, Illinois and Memphis.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy.

"Mainly what I like about the school is I want to help bring it back. I love Chicago; it's a great city. I want to bring the city a college back to cheer for."

Campbell also said the Blue Demons' new Wintrust Arena at McCormick Place Event Center, which is slated to open this fall, is a big draw for him.

The Blue Demons are a combined 18-45 the last two seasons and hasven't had a winning season since 2006-07 when they went 20-14 and made the NIT Quarterfinals.

The program last made the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04 during Leitao's first stint as the team's head coach.

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

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USA TODAY

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

Northern Illinois University added it's fourth known verbal commitment today in its growing Class of 2018.

Maine South junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) added an offer from the Huskies on Tuesday after making a spring practice visit, and today he gave head coach Rod Carey his verbal commitment.

"I chose NIU because it's been a school that I've liked for awhile now," Kokosioulis said moments ago. "I like the facilities at NIU, the stadium and everything else they have to offer. I also really like all the coaches at NIU. I felt that even if I got more offers I would've still chose NIU over other schools. I know that there are bigger school and programs but I feel that I just fit in well at NIU, so I committed."

Kokosioulis, who was an All-State performer for the Class 8A state champion Maine South Hawks in 2016, is now the fourth known in-state verbal commitment for Rod Carey and the Huskies and the fifth known commitment overall. Kokosioulis joins Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Plainfield East defensive end Jack Sullivan and Danville tight end Julian Pearl in the NIU Huskies in-state Class of 2018.