Northwestern is sticking with David Braun as its football coach.
The university announced Wednesday that it has lifted Braun's interim tag and named him the Wildcats’ full-time head coach moving forward.
Braun became interim coach back in July after longtime Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired amid a hazing scandal in the program. Braun was hired by Fitzgerald only months earlier to be the Wildcats’ new defensive coordinator after the team went 1-11 in 2022.
With Fitzgerald dismissed ahead of what would have been his 18th season as head coach, Northwestern was expected to be one of the worst teams in the country. In 2021 and 2022, Northwestern went 4-20 overall with a 2-16 record in Big Ten play. Improbably, the 38-year-old Braun now has Northwestern on the verge of a bowl berth.
The Wildcats are 5-5 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play entering the final two games of the regular season. Over the last month, Northwestern posted upsets over Maryland and Wisconsin, with the 24-10 victory over the Badgers in Madison being the team’s most recent victory.
The Wildcats will play their home finale on Saturday vs. Purdue and then close out the season at Illinois on Nov. 25. If Northwestern can win one of those games, it will become bowl eligible.
"We asked Dave to support our student-athletes this season, and he has done an exceptional job," Northwestern president Michael Schill said. "Under his guidance, Northwestern's football team has exceeded expectations on the field and excelled in the classroom. The turnaround he has led, under very difficult circumstances, is nothing short of phenomenal.
"I have had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Braun in recent months, meetings that re-affirmed what I saw on the field and heard from people close to the program — that Dave's values are Northwestern's values. I couldn't be happier that he will permanently lead our student-athletes on the gridiron."
Before arriving at Northwestern, Braun spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State, helping the Bison win FCS national titles in 2019 and 2021. In 2021, he was named the FCS Coordinator of the Year.
Before this season, Braun had never coached at the FBS level or been a head coach. Prior to his time at NDSU, Braun was a defensive assistant at Northern Iowa (FCS), UC Davis (FCS), Winona State (Division II) and Culver-Stockton (NAIA).
"I am truly honored for the opportunity to continue leading Northwestern's football program," Braun said. "Over the past five months, having the chance to lead this group has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Moving forward, my mission is to build on this positive momentum, aiming to create one of the best experiences in college football for our student-athletes."