Created:Wednesday, December 8, 2010 11:05 p.m.CST
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VIEWS: Matukewicz auditions for big office

By JOHN SAHLY - jsahly@daily-chronicle.com
Tom Matukewicz leads the Northern Illinois football team onto the field at the Mid-American Conference title game on Dec. 3 at Ford Field. (Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@daily-chronicle.com)

Tom Matukewicz doesn't plan on moving inside the football offices of the Yordon Center at Northern Illinois. At least, not yet.

"I like my office," the NIU interim head coach said Tuesday. "That office down there, it'll stay vacant until (NIU athletic director) Jeff (Compher) fills it."

At this point, where Matukewicz sits is the least of his worries.

That he even has time to sit while he prepares the Huskies for the Humanitarian Bowl against Fresno St. without the benefit of departed head coach Jerry Kill and possibly without offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys is remarkable.

He's been through major portions of a week without Kill on two occasions, most recently in September when Kill missed four days after complications that stemmed from gallbladder surgery. But Limegrover and Claeys were there each time to co-handle head coaching duties.

Now, in a matter of three days, those duties have all fallen to him.

"For me, the coaches and the players, it's been an unbelievable ride, man," Matukewicz said. "You lose Friday, you lose your coach on Sunday. On Monday, no one knows what's going to happen. [Tuesday] I'm the interim head coach and I'm looking at 100 people and telling them our plans."

It's hard not to like Matukewicz's attitude. He wants to earn the big office, not walk into it while the last guy is still packing boxes.

Matukewicz talked about how being a head coach is his dream and something he's worked for, how the coaches have told recruits not to panic, that signing day is a long ways off and there will be some sort of stability in DeKalb. He talked about how he looks at the next two weeks as his interview.

"Fresno, their motto is 'Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.' They were kind of the Boise (State) early on," Matukewicz said. "That's a name program. If we want to be a national program, we've got to start with Fresno. If you beat them (in the bowl), you come on a national scene."

A win in the bowl would be a huge testament to Matukewicz and the NIU players for defeating a tough Bulldogs team that ended its season with a win against an Illinois team that beat the Huskies earlier this year. But only Compher knows how much a victory actually would affect the chances of removing the interim tag from Matukewicz's job title, or even if the coaching search lasts that long.

"I told [Compher], 'Hey, if you want to bring in some guys to interview and want to know what I would ask them, let me know,' " Matukewicz said. "Believe me, if he decides to bring in someone, we all need to get around it because he is doing everything he can to try and find the right fit."

Matukewicz only hopes it's Compher who can see him as the right fit in that big office.

• John Sahly is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at jsahly@daily-chronicle.com.

Does NIU coach Rod Carey get enough credit for NIU's season?
Yes
No