Nick Hill named interim head coach for SIU football


By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Director of Athletics Tommy Bell on Tuesday announced that Nick Hill, former co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will serve as interim head coach for SIU football.

“We felt like it was in the best interest of the student-athletes to make a change at this time,” Bell said.

Hill, who recently finished his second season as a coach with SIU, said the coaching staff was shocked by the news about the dismissal of former head coach Dale Lennon on Monday.


“We know it’s a business. We’re all grown men here,” he said. “Eventually if you don’t win, there’s going to be a change. We need to do a better job of winning games.”

Bell has created an advisory committee to help in his search for a permanent head coach, but he has final say in hiring.

The committee consists of former interim Athletic Director Harold Bardo, Faculty Athletic Representative Julie Partridge, former Saluki football player Joel Sambursky, former Saluki head coach Jerry Kill, and  former SIU foundation president and Saluki Athletics donor Greg Cook.

Bell said the committee was formed shortly after Lennon’s dismissal and will begin looking for a permanent coach immediately. He said two successful Football Championship Subdivision coaches have contacted him about the job, but he is considering all options.

“Every athletic director has a short-list,” Bell said. “We’ll check their availability and look to get them on campus. My phone is literally blowing up. I think every offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in Division I has my cell number right now.”

Bell would not reveal who he was looking at or who has contacted him about the job.

Hill said having Kill on the committee can’t hurt his chances of being named permanent head coach.


“He knows what I stand for … he is my number one mentor,” he said. “He’s the guy I look to for advice.”

Kill recruited Hill from Western Kentucky University, where he was playing basketball, in 2003. Hill redshirted the 2004 season before playing the next three seasons with SIU football — the last two as starting quarterback.

Last season, Hill coached quarterback Mark Iannotti to 22 touchdown passes. The mark tied for third all-time at SIU.

This season, Hill’s first as co-offensive coordinator, the Salukis posted their third-highest single season offense total all-time with 5,479 yards. This was the most since 2007 when Hill, in his senior year as quarterback, had 3,532 yards of total offense.

Hill said he was proud of the offensive season, but high-octane offenses don’t always win games.

“We’re 3-8, it’s a team game,” he said. “We need to find a way to turn those losses into wins.”

Hill was named All-Missouri Valley Football Conference his senior season after setting single-season school records with 3,175 passing yards, a 71.5 completion percentage and 28 touchdown passes.

He still holds the record for completion percentage and touchdown passes, and is second in single-season passing yards.

Hill, who said being head coach at SIU is his dream job, said he is grateful for the opportunity.

“I was honored that administration, and Tommy, asked me to be the leader of this program, even on an interim basis,” he said. “Our number one goal is to represent the program no matter what happens.”

After college, Hill spent parts of six seasons in professional football including signing free agent contracts with both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

He coached Carbondale Community High School before coming back to SIU. He was named to the Saluki Football All-Century team in 2013.

Hill said his roots are deep and southern Illinois offers what he wants in life because his favorite things to do are hunt and fish.

“I need a deer stand and a bass boat to be happy,” he said. “Sometimes whenever you have things in front of you that make you happy, then there’s nowhere else to go.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3333