Two familiar faces will return to lead the Northern Illinois University offense and defense in 2016 as Head Coach Rod Carey announced the hiring of Mike Uremovich as the Huskies’ new offensive coordinator while Kevin Kane will take over as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Uremovich spent the last three seasons as offensive line coach at North Carolina State after serving as NIU’s running backs coach and special teams coordinator in 2012 in his second stint as a Huskie. Kane was on NIU’s staff from 2011-2014, including three seasons as linebackers coach, before leaving in 2015 to coach linebackers at his alma mater, Kansas.
A native of New Lenox, Illinois, Uremovich was a member of the NIU coaching staff that led the Huskies to the 2012 Mid-American Conference Championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl before leaving for N.C. State, where he helped lead the Wolfpack to a pair of bowl berths. He was also a part of two MAC West Championship teams at NIU as a graduate assistant on NIU Hall of Fame coach Joe Novak’s staff in 2001 and 2002.
“We’re really happy to have Mike, his wife Katie and their family back at NIU,” Carey said. “I really believe he’s one of the finest coaches in the nation and I’m excited for him to lead our offense along with the rest of our offensive staff in [assistant coaches] Joe Tripodi, Thad Ward, Craig Harmon and Kelton Copeland. I feel like we’ll have one of the finest offensive staffs in the country.
“As an Illinois native who has been at NIU previously, the recruiting aspect is a vital part of this hire. His familiarity with our current staff and current players will help make the transition seamless.”
Prior to joining the NIU staff in 2012, Uremovich served as head coach at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. for seven seasons (2005-11). In 2011, he led the Saints to their most successful season in school history as USF won a school-record 10 games and claimed their first win over an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team when they defeated Georgia State. The Saints advanced to the NAIA Playoffs for the first time in 24 years and captured their first playoff victory.
Uremovich said his return to NIU and the state “feels like coming home.”
“My family and I are really excited to come back to NIU,” he said. “I’m still familiar with a lot of players on the team and also feel really comfortable with the offensive staff. I know or have worked with everyone on that side of the ball, so it’s going to be an easy transition. I’ve spent the bulk of my coaching career in Illinois and recruiting Illinois. I can’t wait to get back and start working with the Illinois high school football coaches to get more great players to NIU.
“I’m excited to be calling plays again and to work with all of the players we have coming back on offense. We’ve got talented players that can run it, catch it and throw it. I’m looking to build on what NIU has been – a fast, physical, balanced offensive football team.”
Kane returns to the defense he helped construct from 2012-14 after spending his initial season at NIU coaching the tight ends and fullbacks in 2011. Kane also coordinated the Huskies’ special teams his final two seasons. In all, he was a part of three MAC Championship teams in DeKalb before leaving following the 2014 campaign to return to his alma mater.
Carey said bringing Kane back as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach was a “no-brainer.”
“It’s great to have Kevin, his wife Theresa and their family back as part of our Huskie family,” Carey said. “With his familiarity with our program and players after just one season away, it was a no-brainer to bring him back. I’m excited for this opportunity for him and have no doubt he’s going to be a top-notch defensive coordinator.
“Kevin brings great leadership, on and off the field, to our program and to our defense. He, along with Brett Diersen and Kelvin Sigler, give us an excellent defensive staff.”
Kane came to NIU in 2011 after working on the football staff at the University of Wisconsin from 2008-10 where he was a graduate assistant for the 2008 and 2009 seasons before serving as the Quality Control Assistant for the UW defense in 2010. A former standout linebacker for the Jayhawks, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at KU.
The Kansas City native said his familiarity with the program and opportunity to become defensive coordinator were big factors in his return.
“I’m excited to be back in DeKalb with the team I know so well that has had so much success,” he said. “Coach Niemann [former defensive coordinator] has done a great job over the past five years at NIU. I studied under him, learned under him and we want to continue the success that NIU has had.
“I can’t wait to get my foot in the door and be back in DeKalb calling the defense. One of the things I love about coming back is I know all the players there already. I get to coach the linebackers I helped bring to the school, with a defensive line and defensive backs, as well as a coaching staff, that I know. Being away, I’ve learned a lot and hope to incorporate some of the things I’ve learned and just continue the winning tradition that’s been built.”
NIU is coming off an 8-6 season that saw the Huskies win their sixth consecutive MAC West Championship and play in a bowl game for the eighth consecutive year.