Former NIU coach Joe Novak to be inducted to MAC Hall of Fame - – Rockford’s News Leader

Former NIU coach Joe Novak to be inducted to MAC Hall of Fame


Former Northern Illinois University Football Coach Joe
Novak will be inducted into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame in
May, the league office announced Friday, becoming the first
NIU-nominated representative in the MAC Hall of Fame.
Novak is part of a seven-member class that includes the late Charlie
Coles (Miami/Central Michigan, men's basketball), Judy Devine (Kent
State, administration), Harry Houska (Ohio, wrestling), Jim Lessig
(MAC/Bowling Green, administration), Caroline Mullen-Kearney (Western
Michigan, women's track and cross country) and Sally Northcroft (Ball
State, field hockey).  See the MAC's complete release with bios on all
2014 inductees at
"It's obviously quite an honor," said Novak, who was inducted
into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in October in his first year of
eligibility and is also in the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame and that
university's Cradle of Coaches.  "You look at the people that have
gone through the conference as players and coaches, and you see the list
of people who are in the Hall of Fame and it's an impressive list.  To
join a group that includes Thurman Munson, Don James, Bill Mallory and
Don Nehlen is an honor."
A year ago, former Huskie head football coach Bill Mallory was inducted
into the first class to be added to the MAC Hall of Fame since it was
revived in May 2012 as he went in under the banners of both Miami (Ohio)
University and NIU as a former head coach of both schools. Novak, who
remains close to Mallory, attended that event and came away impressed.
"I was there for Bill Mallory last year and got a chance to see and
hear about the people that were in the MAC Hall of Fame, never
anticipating I would get the call," he said.  "It was a surprise."
Novak, served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at NIU
under Mallory from 1980-83, with the Huskies claiming their first league
title in 1983, before returning as head coach of the Huskies from
1996-2007. He is credited with resurrecting the Huskie program and
instilling a "blue collar" culture built on toughness, hard work and
team-first mentality which exists to this day.  After his first three
teams went 3-30, Novak went on to lead NIU to four MAC West titles, the
Huskies' first appearance in the MAC Championship game (2005), and two
bowl games, the first for NIU since 1983. 
Between 1999 and 2007, Novak's Huskies compiled a 60-46 record. In
2002, he was named the MAC Coach of the Year after leading NIU to an 8-4
record with wins over Wake Forest and No. 20 Bowling Green. The next
season, NIU opened the year by upsetting No. 15 Maryland in overtime at
Huskie Stadium, 20-13. Three weeks later, the Huskies earned a landmark
19-16 victory at Alabama before returning home to defeat Iowa State.
NIU rose to a ranking of No. 12 in the country that year and won 10
games, earning Novak AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year.
He retired from coaching following the 2007 season but has remained
close to the Huskie program as multiple player from his final recruiting
class were among the group that led NIU to the 2012 MAC Championship. He
and his wife, Carole, relocated to North Carolina, but have attended
almost every NIU bowl game since his retirement, and return to campus
for Homecoming and other special events. He also comes back to DeKalb
every summer for the Brigham-Novak Golf Tournament which raises funds
for the Huskie Football program.
"We are so pleased to see Joe Novak receive this very deserving
honor," said NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics
Sean T. Frazier. "He left a legacy and a culture of success for NIU
football that continues to this day.  He is more than worthy to be
honored with the best players and coaches ever in this conference."

Novak's affiliation with the MAC dates back to his playing days at
Miami University for Head Coach Bo Schembechler.  Including his stints
as an assistant coach at Miami and NIU, he was a part of five MAC
Championship football teams. 

"It is only appropriate for our Conference to honor and celebrate the
accomplishments of our former student-athletes, coaches and
administrators, specifically these seven individuals, and their
achievements during their time competing in the Mid-American
Conference," said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC Commissioner. "We are
honored to welcome them to the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame."

The MAC Hall of Fame was approved by the MAC Council of Presidents in
1987.  The charter class was inducted in 1988 and subsequent classes
were added in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. After six induction
classes, the MAC Hall of Fame maintained 52 members until it was
reinstated in May of 2012.  This year's class brings the number of MAC
Hall of Fame inductees to 72 individuals from nine classes. 

Tickets are available for the MAC Honor's Dinner on Tuesday, May 13 at
6:00 pm ET at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.  Individual tickets ($100
each) and a table of ten ($950) are available for purchase. Contact
Julie Kachner at the Mid-American Conference office at 216-566-4622.

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