SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- One of the most successful coaches in NAIA football the past decade is moving on to a Division I program.
University of Sioux Falls head coach Kalen DeBoer said Friday that he has accepted the offensive coordinator position at Southern Illinois, a Football Championship Subdivision school, after a five-year stint in which his teams had as many national titles as games lost (3).
"What I saw there, with their coaching staff and players at SIU, was kind of the same thing I see here," DeBoer said. "A group of people who are all on the same page, excited about working together, reaching a common goal -- and that's winning a championship."
DeBoer's Cougars compiled a 67-3 record in his five years at the helm and won the NAIA championship in 2006, 2008 and 2009. The 35-year-old was named NAIA coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association in each of those years.
The Baptist-affiliated, 1,600-student South Dakota school is moving up to Division II next season.
Southern Illinois last year advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, closing the season at 11-2. DeBoer said he was not actively seeking a different job but the opportunity at Southern Illinois was too good to pass up.
He talked with his players Friday and said that while the meeting was "a tough time," they were excited for him. He also said he has talked with most incoming recruits and believes they will keep their commitments to the school.
"This program has been built up to where it's bigger than me," DeBoer said.
The Cougars have won 29 straight, have a 50-game home win streak and have won 82 of their last 83 conference games.
DeBoer said he knew Southern Illinois head coach Dale Lennon through coaches conventions and through Lennon's work when he was head coach at North Dakota. Lennon's Fighting Sioux team won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2001.
Lennon said he and DeBoer have similar coaching philosophies.
"A lot of what he's doing with the Sioux Falls offense is what we were doing when I was at North Dakota," he said. "I like how diversified it is. I like the run and pass combo package that they have. I think it will fit in very well.
"It's not going to be a radical overhaul where we go into a completely different philosophical mode," Lennon said.
DeBoer, a native of Milbank, S.D., has played a role in all of USF's national title game appearances. He won as a player in 1996 and was an assistant coach on the national runner-up team in 2001. The Cougars also were runners-up in 2007 under DeBoer.
DeBoer said Cougars assistant Ryan Grubb has been named interim head coach and is a finalist to succeed him.
"[Players] have been swarming offices today, just coming up ... not only in support of coach DeBoer but the rest of the coaching staff as we prepare to move on," said Grubb, who had been promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator just last month.
DeBoer will replace Phil Longo on the Salukis staff. Longo resigned last month to take an assistant's job at Youngstown State. DeBoer begins his duties Feb. 15.