By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren is bound to be one of the hottest coaching commodities when more jobs start opening up in the coming weeks.
In just two seasons at Northern Illinois, Doeren has a 20-4 record, including a 13-1 mark in the MAC. He led the Huskies to a 2011 MAC Championship Game victory over Ohio and a GODADDY.com bowl win over Arkansas State. This year, NIU is 9-1 and just needs a win over Toledo Wednesday night in DeKalb to clinch the school’s third straight appearance in the MAC Championship Game.
In college football, that gets you noticed by bigger schools. So would Doeren listen if other programs come calling?
Of course he would.
“I really have enjoyed the process at NIU and they gave me my first chance to be a head coach. So I’m going to do everything I can to make this the best school that I can make it,” Doeren told SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “If something comes along that I know is better for me and my family, I’m going to have to listen to it. But we’re not there yet.”
He might be there pretty soon though. Kentucky already announced that Joker Phillips will not return next season and, with only two weekends left in the regular season, there are a number of jobs that could open soon.
“If it does, it does. I’ve lived by, if you do a great job where you are and opportunities come your way, and it may not be the right one,” Doeren said. “I think that’s really important. I have a great job, my family is happy, I like the kids I coach, and they take care of me here. I’m not leaving here for something that I don’t think is better than what I have.”
A natural fit could be Purdue if the Boilermakers decide to fire Danny Hope at season’s end. Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke issued a statement Oct. 29 indicating that change could be on its way if the football team didn’t start winning. Since that statement, the Boilermakers lost a home game to Penn State 34-9 and beat Iowa 27-24 on the road. At 4-6, with two games remaining (at Illinois, vs Indiana), it’s possible Hope could still save his job if Purdue wins out to gain bowl eligibility. Still, with Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten Championship within the Leaders Divsion, the Boilermakers had high expectations this season and fell way short.
Doeren figures to be a good candidate for a Big Ten opening, mainly because he had success as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator before taking the NIU job and because he’s recruited the Midwest for a long time now. Just two years ago, former NIU head coach Jerry Kill took over at Minnesota, where he has already made the Gophers bowl eligible with a 6-4 record this season. Doeren took over for Kill and immediately took the program to even greater heights by winning last year’s MAC title.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks, Doeren figures to get some phone calls, but those phone calls will increase if the Huskies repeat as MAC Champions. NIU has a big home game Wednesday night on national television and a win would clinch another trip to Detroit.
For more college sports coverage, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.