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

New NIU coach Rod Carey front-and-center before Orange Bowl
January 1, 2013, 1:08 am
Share This Post

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?"