Heisman Trophy finalist and Huskie great Jordan Lynch has joined the Northern Illinois University football coaching staff, NIU head coach Rod Carey announced today.
“Obviously, with Jordan, the name speaks for itself,” he said. “The Heisman Trophy finalist got us to the Orange Bowl, got us to the cusp of a Fiesta Bowl and set all sorts of records. He’s probably one of the most beloved players that have come through here in recent history. When you are talking about the greats of Huskie football, our tradition, you can’t do that without saying the name Jordan Lynch.”
“I think he’s going to be a great football coach. In his time in the CFL, he really grew in the way he viewed the game,” Carey said. “He was starting to see it through a coach’s lens and I really think he’s ready for this. If I didn’t think he was ready, I wouldn’t have hired him.”
Lynch, who finished third in the 2013 Heisman Trophy voting, the highest finish by a player from the Mid-American Conference, will coach the Huskie running backs.
“I always knew when I got done playing football, I wanted to get into coaching,” Lynch said. “I just love being around the players and being back at NIU. When [Coach Carey] started talking to me about the possibility of a position opening up here, I took some time and thought about it. I felt it was a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t pass it up. Some of my best memories of playing football have been here at Northern. To come back and help get the program back to where it was appealed to me.”
While working with Lynch during his tenure at NIU, Carey didn’t necessarily see the All-American as a coach. Now with the passage of time, he looks back on coaching Lynch and one thing stands out.
“I only had to tell Jordan something once,” Carey said. “When we were putting in a new play, a new scheme, or developing the game plan and I was going over it with him, it was once and he got it. If he was wrong, you corrected him once and it was done. That was his gift and that ability to have what I call ‘the one-effect’ makes a great coach.”
The former Huskie quarterback returns to NIU after a two-year career with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Lynch threw for 48 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-9 passing, while rushing for 228 yards and five touchdowns on 53 carries in 36 games with the Eskimos. In the 2015 Grey Cup, he plunged in from one yard out on third and goal to score the game-winning touchdown. Lynch feels that his two years in the CFL will serve him well as an assistant coach.
“Being a quarterback, we were always in the film room early and always seeing the coaches put together game plans,” he said. “I picked up a lot of things from them and I feel that will help me as a coach here.”
However, it was at NIU where Lynch made an indelible mark on Huskie history and college football.
One of the most decorated football players in Huskie history, Lynch was a first-team All-America selection at the all-purpose position by the Associated Press, Phil Steele and Lindy’s and earned second-team honors from USA Today and CBSSports.com following a 2013 season where he led the Huskies to a 12-0 regular season.
He rushed for an NCAA QB-record 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns, while throwing for 2,892 yards and 24 touchdowns on 253-of-404 passing. The quarterback rushing mark is one of five NCAA records set by the Chicago native in 2013. He also set the single-game quarterback rushing mark twice. On Oct. 19, he rushed for 316 yards against Central Michigan and then broke his own record with 321 yards on Nov. 26 against Western Michigan.
A two-time Vern Smith Leadership Award recipient, Lynch led NIU to victory in the 2012 MAC championship game in his first season as the starting quarterback. With NIU’s 44-37 overtime victory over Kent State, Lynch and the Huskies earned a berth to the 2013 Orange Bowl, the first Mid-American Conference school to participate in a Bowl Championship Series bowl.
Lynch is the third NIU graduate to join the NIU coaching staff and fourth former Huskie player. He joins cornerbacks coach Melvin Rice (2005-2008), Cameron Stingily (2010, 2013-2014), who was added as a graduate assistant in January, and Craig Harmon, who played quarterback at NIU from 1998 until 2000. Offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Mike Uremovich was a graduate assistant coach under NIU Athletics Hall of Fame coach Joe Novak from 2001 until 2003.
“I think we have the entire Novak through Jerry [Kill] through Dave [Doeren] through me eras covered on our staff,” Carey said. “When you have that type of connection, I think that speaks to a program. I think that speaks to what I’m trying to do – keep the program moving forward in the consistent phase it has been through the course of time. I think that’s not only a testament to what we’re doing, but what has been done here.”
Lynch is very excited to continue the Huskie heritage on the coaching staff and is looking forward to instilling Huskie pride in the current players.
“Anytime you can keep alumni around here to talk about the old days when they were here and what’s different and what’s changed, I think it’s important,” Lynch said. “To those guys, this program means everything to them. No one cares more about this program than the guys that played here. To keep those guys around, it’s awesome. It’s great to be back with those guys.”
Season tickets for all six 2017 NIU home games are now on sale online or call 815-753-PACK (7225). Season tickets are an even greater value in 2017 with the addition of the new $199 Family Pack, which features four tickets in sections A or G and a new lowered $60 price for season tickets on the east side with general admission seating. Reserved seats in sections A, B, F and G are now just $115 for the season, a cost of less than $20 per game.
Season ticket renewal packets featuring both season ticket and Huskie Athletic Fund information, have been mailed to all 2016 season ticket members and Huskie Athletic Fund donors. The renewal deadline is set for April 22, 2017, the date of the Huskie Bowl, the annual spring football game, which will be played at Huskie Stadium at 2 p.m. The Huskies open the 2017 season Sept. 1, when NIU plays host to Boston College in Huskie Stadium, becoming the first Atlantic Coach Conference opponent to play at NIU since 2003.