Roundup: Murray named NCC defensive coordinator
FROM STAFF REPORTS February 13, 2013 8:44PM
Murray named NCC defensive coordinator — North Central head football coach John Thorne has announced the hiring of Mike Murray as the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator.
A former head coach with experience as a coordinator on both offense and defense at College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin rival Illinois Wesleyan, Murray will assume responsibility for all facets of the defensive unit for the seven-time defending conference champions.
“This was the best hire we could have made for this job and for the college,” Thorne said. “Mike and I have known each other for quite a few years, even before we started coaching against each other. It was great when we saw he was interested in the opening we had, and we’re really happy we were able to bring him in.”
A 1984 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan, Murray played football and baseball for four years before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned Honorable Mention All-CCIW honors as a tight end in football in 1983 and currently ranks 25th in IWU history in career and single-season receptions. He finished his collegiate baseball career with a .330 batting average, earning All-CCIW accolades in 1983 and 1984.
Murray began his coaching career with the Titans, serving as the program’s defensive coordinator from 1987-1996, also serving as IWU’s head track and field and men’s golf coach and athletic recruiting coordinator during that time. He moved on to the University of Dubuque (Iowa) as the Spartans’ head coach from 1997-2000 before serving in the same capacity at Benedictine University during the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
He next coached with the Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2005 before returning to IWU in 2006. He spent two seasons as the Titans’ offensive coordinator before moving to defense in 2008, also taking over as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
Murray’s defense had its best year in 2009, leading the CCIW in nearly every defensive category, including total defense (250.2 yards per game), scoring defense (16.6 ppg), rushing defense (87.5 ypg) and passing defense (162.8 ypg) as the Titans shared the CCIW title with North Central and qualified for the NCAA Division III Football Championship. He left IWU following the 2010 season and took over as the Bloomington Extreme’s head coach before spending the past year as the director of the Redbird 4 Life Club at Illinois State University.
He inherits a Cardinal defense which ranked 12th nationally in total defense (272.3 ypg), 16th in rushing defense (90.3 ypg), 17th in defensive passing efficiency (101.76) and eighth in quarterback sacks (3.33 per game) in 2012 and has led the CCIW in total defense in each of the past three seasons.
The Cardinals finished the 2012 campaign ranked seventh by D3football.com and 10th by the American Football Coaches Association.
Cardinals ranked No. 4 — North Central has moved up to No. 4 in the NCAA Division III Midwest Region rankings, released by the Division III Men’s Basketball Committee Wednesday.
The Cardinals (20-3) are among four CCIW representatives in the Midwest Region rankings, joining top-ranked Illinois Wesleyan (20-3), third-ranked Wheaton College (18-5) and seventh-ranked Augustana College (16-7).
The regional rankings are one of the tools used by the Division III Men’s Basketball Committee to determine selections for the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship, which begins March 2.
The Cardinals host North Park on Saturday, with tipoff at 7 p.m.
NCC ranked No. 4 in nation — North Central is ranked No. 4 in the most recent NCAA Division III National Team Computer Rankings, released Wednesday by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Winners of the last three NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships, the Cardinals claimed a team championship for the third straight week on Saturday, topping a 20-team field in the Chicagoland Indoor Championships at Al B. Carius Track. North Central more than tripled the score of its nearest competitor and won nine of the 17 contested events.
The Cardinals have the two top-ranked pole vaulters in Division III in Peter Geraghty (17 feet-3/4 inch) and Josh Winder (16-6 3/4), though Geraghty will miss the remainder of the indoor season due to injury. Distance runner John Crain ranks second nationally in the 5,000-meter run (14:24.22) and fifth in the mile run (4:12.82), while Dionte Hackler ranks 10th in the 400-meter dash (49.51). North Central’s distance medley relay team currently sits third (10:15.56) and the Cardinals’ 4x400-meter relay team ranks sixth (3:19.05). Winder is the defending indoor national champion in the pole vault, and the Cardinals also won the 4x400 relay at last year’s Division III national meet.
Wisconsin-La Crosse takes over the No. 1 spot this week for the first time this season, receiving 184.43 points. Wisconsin-Oshkosh is second this week with 171.10 points, while Wisconsin-Whitewater is third with 132.61. North Central has 120.58 points this week, while Haverford College (Pa.) rounds out the top five with 90.00 points.
North Central hosts the Cardinal Classic on Friday, with field events starting at 4:30 p.m.