Note: This story has been updated after Northwestern formally announced that David Braun will serve as the football program’s next full-time coach at around 5:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday.
A story that’s felt like one out of Hollywood is continuing with another script-like development.
On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Northwestern football will hire David Braun to become its next full-time head coach, dropping the interim tag. Northwestern officially made the announcement late Wednesday afternoon.
Here to Stay.— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) November 15, 2023
David Braun named Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach. pic.twitter.com/HKXsz4gXxt
“We asked Dave to support our student-athletes this season, and he has done an exceptional job,” Northwestern President Michael Schill said in a statement. “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,” Schill added. “I couldn’t be happier that he will permanently lead our student-athletes on the gridiron.”
The move comes after Northwestern shocked Wisconsin with an overpowering 24-10 road victory on Saturday, giving the Wildcats their fifth win of the season and first in Madison since 2015; it was also the team’s first road win in nearly 1,100 days. After the game, cheers and loud bumps of music weren’t the only things heard: NU players also rained down tweets of “#removethetag.” Northwestern’s leadership has seemingly listened.
“Upon his arrival at Northwestern, I quickly identified that Coach Braun embodies the values of our athletic department: respect, integrity, service and excellence,” Northwestern athletic director Derrick Gragg said in a statement. “It was the right decision to appoint him as the interim leader, and I congratulate Coach Braun on being named the head coach of our football program. He has earned this position.
“Coach Braun has rallied the team under very adverse circumstances,” Gragg continued. “He has gained the respect of the student-athletes, the staff, parents, alumni and our fans.”
In his first ever job as a head coach at any level of football, Braun has already won more games this year than the Wildcats did in 2021 and 2022 combined. He’s the first Northwestern coach to win five or more games as a newcomer since 1903, and could very well be the Big Ten Coach of the Year frontrunner.
“I am truly honored for the opportunity to continue leading Northwestern’s football program,” Coach Braun said in a release on Wednesday afternoon. “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...
“I want to express my gratitude to President Schill, Dr. Gragg and the search committee for entrusting me with the leadership of this program. And above all, a thank you to my wife, Kristin, for supporting me every step along the way.”
At 5-5, NU has two more games left in its regular season, including possibly the last ever contest at the current Ryan Field this Saturday against Purdue. As it turns out, it might be the final matchup on Central Street with this building — but also the first with Braun as the school’s next head coach.