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Jerry Pettibone named football coach at Northern Illinois

DE KALB, Ill. -- Jerry Pettibone, recognized as one of the nation's top major college recruiters and assistant football coaches, was named Thursday to a four-year contract as head coach of Northern Illinois University.

Pettibone, succeeding Lee Corso who departed NIU last month after one season to coach the new Orlando Renegades of the United States Football League, promised to close the revolving door at NIU.

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'I'm ... very excited. This is a great opportunity,' said Pettibone, 45, who served the past three seasons under Jackie Sherrill at Texas A&M. 'Of course, this is my first head coaching job but I don't think I could have asked for a better opportunity than Northern Illinois.

'I certainly will have a commitment to stay at Northern Illinois four years,' he said. 'I would like the opportunity to complete the full four-year recruiting cycle. Hopefully, I can stay longer than that.'

Pettibone's appointment as NIU's 17th football coach was announced by acting NIU president John E. La Tourette. The appointment was approved by the NIU Board of Regents.

Pettibone is a veteran of 19 years as an aide to such coaches as Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer, Hayden Fry, Tom Osborne and Sherrill. During his last two seasons at Texas A&M, he was assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach.

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No salary was announced. Corso was believed to make an annual salary of about $50,000.

Before his tenure at Texas A&M, Pettibone spent three years as recruiting coordinator and split ends coach at Nebraska from 1979-81. He spent the seven previous years as the chief recruiter at Oklahoma, his alma mater, and one season at Southern Methodist University in 1971.

'Jerry Pettibone will be an outstanding head coach,' said Robert J. Brigham, NIU's special assistant to the president-athletics. 'He brings some impressive credentials into our program.

'He is recognized as an outstanding recruiter, which is a critical area for schools like us. Jerry has worked in major programs under some nationally known coaches.'

Pettibone said he was impressed by 'a lot of things' in the NIU program.

'First, the commitment that Northern Illinois has made to be a first-class football team in the Mid-American (Conference) and the desire to compete against top-flight competition outside the league,' he said.

NIU was 4-4-1 in Corso's only season. The previous year under Bill Mallory, now coach at Indiana, the Huskies were champions of the MAC with a 10-2 mark, including a victory in the California Bowl.

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