It's been a heck of a season for Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey.
He started the year as the Huskies' offensive line coach before taking over play-calling duties Week 2. On Dec. 2, Carey was promoted to head coach after Dave Doeren left for North Carolina State. His promotion came the same day NIU was selected to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Prior to the Huskies' trip to Florida, Carey talked with Daily Chronicle NIU beat writer Steve Nitz about the wild ride he's had the last few weeks leading up to New Year's Day.
Nitz: You're going to be coaching your first game in the Orange Bowl. Has everything sunk in yet, or is it still kind of surreal?
Carey: I've got that question before. It hasn't sunk in, and here's why. Because, you don't get to some big stage like that without a bunch of little details. So we're in the middle of creating all the little things that we do each week. It builds up to a big thing, and then you're comfortable with it. So if you told me I had to coach it today I wouldn't be ready, but we're not there yet.
Nitz: How many coaches have you called for advice, on an estimate?
Carey: Probably a dozen.
Nitz: Any certain piece of advice that really stands out?
Carey: The biggest thing, everyone, they've said it all a different way, but the biggest thing they've said is "be yourself, do what you do."
Nitz: It was a big transition for this team, having Doeren leave. Obviously you have some assistants that are staying for the Orange Bowl but are leaving for N.C. State. How has the team handled the whole transition?
Carey: That's a credit to them, they've handled it really well. It's hard when you lose family members and that's a tough thing to go through. They also know this is about them, it's not about coaches. It's about them. And they have taken a hold of this thing, and led by the senior class, really made it special for them.
Nitz: How big of a transition will it be for you coaching on the sidelines after being up in the press box?
Carey: It'll be different. But how we operate on offense won't. The biggest thing will just be managing the whole game. But we're going to do that as a staff which we did anyways for Coach Doeren. I'll just be more involved with that than I was before.
Nitz: One last thing, are you finally ready to get out of this rain and snow and into some nice weather in south Florida?
Carey: Yeah, I think the guys are too. It'll be fun for them.