For the first time in 20 years, there’s a new name in charge of North Central College football.
After a season in which the Cardinals went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season to capture their 15th CCIW championship en route to a second consecutive appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, North Central announced Wednesday morning that assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Brad Spencer (a 2004 alumnus of the college) was promoted to be the 26th coach in program history.
“Brad is perfectly suited for the position,” said North Central athletic director Jim Miller in a statement released by the college early Wednesday. “He possesses all the important leadership and visionary qualities needed to carry on and elevate the traditions of Cardinal football. He’s been integral to establishing a winning culture in the program and setting a high standard of excellence in academics as well as athletics.”
The appointment ushers in a new era following the leadership of Jeff Thorne and his father John before him. Jeff Thorne led the Cardinals to their first ever Division III national championship in 2019 along with four conference championships and five postseason appearances in his five seasons in charge. He will join Tim Lester’s coaching staff at Western Michigan University in a capacity yet to be announced.
“I’m honored and humbled to be following in the footsteps of John Thorne and Jeff Thorne,” Spencer, who played for two years under John Thorne, said via the school’s press release. “They’ve both been such great coaching mentors for me and have built the program into what it is today.”
Spencer, a member of the North Central football family for over two decades, immediately joined the coaching staff following a career in which he became the program’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He first served as the team’s wide-receivers coach from 2004-2019 and took over offensive coordinator duties beginning in 2015.
Brad was also a prominent player on the field in his time with NCC, graduating as Cardinals’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Playing football at North Central is a family tradition for the Spencer family, as Brad’s grandfather Wes Spencer, his father Rick Spencer, and his younger brother Tyke all placed for the Cardinals.
His offenses own numerous conference records and average over 52 points per game since the beginning of 2019. For the time being, there will be no other changes to the Cardinals’ football coaching staff as all assistants will stay in their current roles, the school said.
Prior to the Thornes’ arrival, North Central football never won eight or more games in a season and only won seven games once. As big of shoes as Brad Spencer has to fill, the confidence the college and his colleagues have in him to fill them appear to be just as substantial.
“It’s difficult to find a better ambassador for North Central College or its football program than Brad Spencer,” said North Central president Dr. Troy Hammond in the release. “I’m thrilled to watch him continue to motivate, inspire and lead student athletes in this capacity.”
For Naperville News 17, Alex Campbell reporting.