Huskies hire former coach of year from Southern Illinois

DEKALB, Ill. -- Jerry Kill is the new football coach at
Northern Illinois, less than a week after he had Southern Illinois
in the FCS semifinals.

"I've chased a dream and the dream came true today," Kill said
Thursday at a news conference at NIU's athletic training center.
"I wanted to have the opportunity to coach Division I football and
I wanted to make it a place where it would be a great fit and have
a chance to be successful."

Kill replaces Joe Novak, who retired last month after 12 seasons
as coach of the Huskies. Novak had seven straight winning seasons
and two bowl appearances, turning Northern Illinois into one of the
best programs in the Mid-American Conference. They slipped to 2-10
in an injury-filled 2007 season.

"Joe's made this a great job," Kill said. "I've got big shoes
to fill. I will give every single thing I have, I will work endless
hours and keep going with the legacy that Coach Novak has put

Kill was 56-32 in seven seasons at Southern Illinois, which
plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly I-AA. The
Salukis lost 20-17 to Delaware last Friday.

Novak assisted during a selection process that took more than
two weeks, said NIU athletic director Jim Phillips.

"We cast a net as wide as possible -- 1,261 bios to be exact
that we went through," Phillips said. "I know coach Novak's
exhausted, I'm exhausted. The goal in the end was to find the right
institutional fit and I know that we did."

Kill had a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney in 2005, but
said his health is now excellent.

"I'm in complete remission and I feel fantastic," he said.