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NIU defensive coordinator Kevin Kane to leave for same position at SMU

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Kane departs after one of the Huskies’ greatest defensive seasons of all time.

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Illinois Huskies just saw 19 seniors play in their final game last month and now they’re losing a huge part of their coaching staff.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Kane, who has been with the Huskies since 2011 (with the exception of 2015, when he coached linebackers at Kansas), has reportedly accepted an offer to hold the same position with the SMU Mustangs.

The news was first reported by FootballScoop.com and later confirmed by the DeKalb Daily Chronicle’s Josh Tolentino. SMU subsequently confirmed the reports on its team website.

This season, just his second at the position, saw the Huskies improve dramatically in their defensive play. The unit gave up 80 fewer yards per game while also giving up eight few points per game, dropping from an average of 30 points per game allowed to 22. NIU’s defense also ranked first in the NCAA in tackles for loss, second in sacks, 11th in third-down defense, 32nd in scoring defense, and allowed 850 less rushing yards this year than in 2016.

Kane coached linebackers at NIU until 2016, when he was assigned defensive coordinator duties.

Kane also helped shape NIU’s second everconsensus All-American in defensive end Sutton Smith. Smith, a converted running back, led the nation is sacks and tackles for a loss this season in his first full season at the position.

Kane is the second coach to leave NIU this offseason, as Jordan Lynch, the former Heisman finalist quarterback at NIU, left his running backs coach position to become the head coach of Mt. Carmel High School, his high school alma mater.

Per the Daily Chronicle, NIU head coach Rod Carey did not respond for comment regarding the move. As of publication, there are no known candidates for the newly-created vacancy.