Created:Friday, March 18, 2011 12:09 a.m.CDT
Updated:Friday, March 18, 2011 8:42 a.m.CDT

Meet the assistants: Tom Matukewicz

NIU linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz led the Huskies to a 40-17 Humanitarian Bowl win in December. (Chronicle file photo)

Editor's Note: Leading up to the start of Northern Illinois spring football practice on March 22, the Daily Chronicle will be presenting readers with stories on each of the new assistant coaches. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the Daily Chronicle to clip out our special card of each assistant.

NAME: Tom MatukewiczPOSITION: Northern Illinois linebackers coachRECRUITING AREA: Florida, also in charge of junior college transfers and is the life skills director

DeKALB – You know who he is. You've seen the clip. The one of him entering Bronco Stadium, arms locked with Northern Illinois players. The one that circulated on ESPN for days. The one that came before the Huskies' 40-17 Humanitarian Bowl win.

You know Tom Matukewicz.

"Tuke is Tuke. Everyone here knows Tuke," NIU defensive coordinator Jay Niemann said. "He's a rock-solid guy, just a real stable kind of guy. Every day you're going to get the same guy, and that's a fine product I want to say. He's a tremendous person and a great football coach. For me, he's just a joy to be around."

What Matukewicz did for NIU is no secret to anyone around the program. The Huskies' linebackers coach served as a bridge of stability between coach Dave Doeren and former coach Jerry Kill.

It took Matukewicz one game to find a permanent place in Huskie history. The job he did as an interim head coach leading NIU to a bowl victory was good reason for Doeren to keep him on staff. But Doeren is quick to point out he retained Matukewicz before the Humanitarian Bowl, even though he didn't think it would be a possibility initially.

"When I came from my press conference, I didn't have anticipation of keeping any of [Kill's assistants]," Doeren told the Daily Chronicle in January. "Jerry, in the past, had taken people with him, so I assumed that wouldn't be an option with those guys leaving to a Big Ten school with more money.

"I flat-out asked, 'Why wouldn't you want to go to the Big Ten and make more money?' He said, 'It's not about that for me. It's about getting better and growing as a person and a coach.' That showed me a lot about his values."

Matukewicz's fellow coaches on NIU's defensive staff have used him as a source to quickly become acclimated to the program. Because people around the DeKalb area do know 'Tuke,' but chances are the friendly, extrovert Matukewicz knows them too.

"Him being here and already understanding the culture of NIU football helps," NIU cornerbacks coach Richard McNutt said. "He understands and has been here when these guys have been successful. He knows these kids, so I'm leaning on him to learn a lot more about these players."

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